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Luba Mason: Collage

Luba Mason is neither as young as Winehouse nor as startling. Instead, the classically trained singer-actress, backed by several seasons of Broadway experience and blessed with a voice as big and rich as a star-filled night sky, suggests an earthier, harder-won maturity throughout her powerfully impressive debut, Collage (PS Classics). Mixing folk, pop and theatrical influences (hints of such disparate pros as Olivia Newton-John, Audra McDonald, Carly Simon and Linda Ronstadt are clearly evident), Mason takes her crystalline soprano to soaring heights as she assembles an intriguing songbook that extends from traditional English folk (“The Riddle Song”) to Neil Diamond (“Cherry, Cherry”) and Lou Reed (a gorgeously heartfelt “The Calm Before the Storm.”) Re-pairing with her pal Ruben Blades (Mason’s “Danny Boy” was a highlight of Blades’ Grammy-winning Mundo) she shapes an exhilarating “I Can See Clearly Now,” then gleefully camps it up on the Sherman brothers’ “Don’t Shoot the Hooey to Me, Louie.” Reinterpreting Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles” with an invigorating robustness, investigating the delicate folds of Bacharach and David’s “Look of Love” in Blades-adapted Spanish, and wrapping things up with a nod to her Slovakian roots with the majestic “Materinska Moja Rec [Motherland],” Mason proves as marvelously dexterous as she is delightful.

Originally Published