Claire Martin: Take My Heart

Although not necessarily projecting herself on this album as a jazz artist, per se, the beautiful British singer Claire Martin does emerge as perhaps the most classy interpreter of tasteful contemporary pop material extant. With a smoky timbre alternately suggestive of Peggy Lee, Anita O’Day, and June Christy, the hauntingly blue-eyed, short-cropped blonde here offers personalized versions of latter day ballads of quality, inclusive of “Only the Lonely,” “Riverman,” “Take My Heart,” “Queen Bee,” “Brilliant Trees,” Paul Simon’s “Jonah,” Lennon and McCartney’s “Help!,” her own “Inner City Girl” and “Pleading Guilty,” “I Scare Myself,” and Elvis Costello’s “Baby Plays Around.” Primarily because of Martin’s bland and uninspiring string-laden accompanying groups, Take My Heart cannot be recommended as a jazz album, but as an introduction to her singing style it should not be completely overlooked.