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Nancy Marano: Sure Thing

In hindsight, June Christy’s bewitching Ballads for Night People can be perceived as vaguely prescient of Nancy Marano’s most recent endeavor, Sure Thing (Blue Port J007; 63:00). Stylistically, Christy and Marano are worlds apart. Yet like the misty Miss C., Marano is a singer best appreciated within the quiet folds of evening. On this cozy collection her voice is infused with the seductive dim of twilight. Apart from a pair of her own compositions, the lovely “Very Close to Love” (crafted with help from Tom Harrell and Duncan Lamont) and the less inspired “Easier to Say Goodbye,” Marano focuses on familiar standards in less than familiar settings. Cole Porter’s “So in Love,” so often approached like a slippery alp that must be conquered, is instead treated as a leisurely stroll through the magical world of new romance. On “The Man I Love” she effectively underscores the lyric’s intrinsic yearning with a subtle yet fervent hint of sexual frustration. Hidden among the fine old chestnuts is a superbly gentle version of Alan Broadbent and Dave Frishberg’s underappreciated “Heart’s Desire.” Saving the best for last, Marano closes with a medley of “Never Let Me Go” and “Goodbye” that brilliantly counterbalances the before and after of romantic desperation. The listener is left with a shadowy image of a woman who, having fortified herself with something cool, will not go gently into that good night.

Originally Published