Intentionally or not, the opening track of Somewhere is a bit of misdirection. Sounding like a suave supper-club crooner, Peter Eldridge eases into Cindy Walker’s “You Don’t Know Me” buoyed by pianist Kenny Werner’s pillowy string arrangement. Eldridge sounds resigned rather than devastated at his anonymity, and he doesn’t come close to prying the song away from Ray Charles. (Who could?) But rather than introducing an easy-listening program of standards, the tune is an anomaly on a ballad-centric project that brims with exceptional originals.
Eldridge and Werner co-wrote a single song, the sumptuous seasonal ode “Autumn in Three,” but one or the other is credited on just about every other piece. Eldridge wrote the words and music for the graceful, exacting portrait of a romance on the rocks, “Difficult,” a song in search of a Sondheim musical. Werner is solely responsible for the dreamy “Untitled Lament,” which also features his most elaborate arrangement. And what arrangements! Understated and blithely sophisticated, his string charts sound utterly integral to the music and expertly tailored to Eldridge’s pleasingly rounded baritone and his own scintillating piano work.