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Erin Dickins: Nice Girls

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When Tim Hauser and Gene Pistilli originally formed the Manhattan Transfer in 1969, it featured five voices. The lineup survived just one album, 1971’s Jukin’, before Hauser took sole control and repopulated the group as a foursome.

Now, four decades later, one of the original five, Erin Dickins, is back with her solo debut. Dickins must be at least 60, yet sounds decades younger, with a pert freshness that is eminently appealing. In her phrasing and intonation there are obvious shades of Linda Ronstadt-but with legit jazz cred. The title derives from Julie London’s saucy “Nice Girls Don’t Stay for Breakfast,” which Dickins, who smolders less than London, lends a delectable insouciance. Her invasion of the sex-kitten catalogue continues with Eartha Kitt’s “Je Cherche un Homme,” here handled with schoolgirl purity. And she can still swing with aplomb, as vibrantly demonstrated across “I Just Found Out About Love,” “T’Ain’t What You Do” and “Loads of Love.”

But it is the less familiar material that proves most compelling, including two tunes by producer Jesse Frederick (the breezy “Walkin’ With My Barefeet On” and wistful “Long Ago and Far Away”-not to be confused with the Kern/Gershwin classic) and two from Pistilli (the sultry “Take Your Time” and Nice Girls‘ standout track, the cute and clever “Stayin’ Is the Only Way to Go”).

Originally Published