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Karrin Allyson: Wild for You

An album likely to turn up on Grammy ballots is Wild for You (Concord), Karrin Allyson’s heartfelt salute to the singer-songwriters of the 1970s who, she says, “opened up a whole new world” of musical possibilities to her when she was a prepubescent Nebraskan. Wrapping that gorgeous rasp of hers around the words of Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, Elton John, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Carole King and a half-dozen others, Allyson shakes up their folk-era earnestness by infusing each with a tart, postmillennial sagacity.

Her take on Elton’s “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word,” is less clingingly wounded and more genuinely desperate. Similarly, King’s “It’s Too Late,” originally a study in whining disappointment, is here shot through with the self-assurance of hard-won wisdom. King’s heroine was a victim; Allyson’s is a savvy survivor. Elsewhere, Simon’s “The Right Thing to Do” and Roberta Flack’s “Feel Like Makin’ Love” (written by Eugene McDaniels) are freed of their shrill urgency, the silky sexiness of Melissa Manchester’s “I Got Eyes” is cradled in a gentle samba and Stevens’ “Wild World” is reinvented as a lilting waltz.

“I love these songs,” Allyson enthuses. “I have a history with them. They are why I sing today.” In doing so she adds another vibrant chapter to her luminous history while providing us with a superb reminder that jazz-worthy standards don’t begin and end with Cole Porter.

Originally Published