Allegra Levy: Looking at the Moon (SteepleChase)

Review of the vocalist's lunar-themed album

Cover of Allegra Levy album Looking at the Moon
Cover of Allegra Levy album Looking at the Moon

Albums crafted around moon-related tunes aren’t anything new. Mel Tormé delivered his terrific Swingin’ on the Moon in 1960. Six years later, Frank Sinatra shaped the more somber Moonlight Sinatra. While the concept may lack originality, vocalist Allegra Levy beautifully explores the lunar theme with this soft-hued assemblage. And, following Levy’s two previous releases, Lonely City and Cities Between Us, both focused on original compositions, it’s intriguing, and mightily satisfying, to hear her navigate 13 covers.

Working in an intimate, drummer-less trio setting—pianist Carmen Staaf (the sole holdover from City and Cities), guitarist Alex Goodman, and bassist Tim Norton—she opens with a dreamy “Moon River” and maintains a hushed, late-night-boîte mood through “Moonglow,” “Moonlight In Vermont,” “Polka Dots and Moonbeams,” “No Moon At All,” and the closing “I’ll Be Seeing You” (its wistful lyric providing the album’s title). Even “I Got the Sun in the Morning,” typically interpreted with brassy boisterousness, comes cashmere-wrapped. Levy adds a cleverly furtive take on Artie Shaw’s “Moon Ray,” an imaginatively angular “Blue Moon,” and a bouncy, mid-tempo “It’s Only a Paper Moon.”

More contemporary moon musings round out the playlist, including a gorgeous Goodman-propelled reading of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” a “Moonshadow” even more gently ruminative than the Cat Stevens original, and a translucent rendering of Nick Drake’s hauntingly ominous “Pink Moon.” Throughout, Levy’s distinctive warm-cool vibe—equal parts Julie London and Chris Connor—and flawless articulation shine brilliantly through.

Buy or download Looking at the Moon on Amazon!