Clarinetist Dave Bennett’s Mack Avenue debut, 2013’s Don’t Be That Way, showcased an artist capably tackling and updating music associated with Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman and Pete Fountain. In essence, it positioned him as a next-gen swing king with a penchant for taking playful strolls. This follow-up, while retaining that image and ideal in select places, is something of a toned-down story.
Five of the album’s 11 tracks are Bennett originals, written collaboratively with pianist Shelly Berger, and most present with muted lyricism. Half of the covers that make up the balance fall in line with those gentle numbers, furthering the aesthetic of the ruminating artist. The introductory triptych—“Blood Moon,” “A Long Goodbye” and “Falling Sky”—typifies Bennett’s newfound wistfulness, as do the appropriately sedate takes on Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman” that immediately follow.