Erin McKeown

Sing You Sinners (Nettwerk)

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After four albums of exceptional, introspective folk-pop musings, it's something of a shock to find Erin McKeown turning her attention to jazz gems of the '30s, '40s and '50s. Still, she does a credible job of capturing the spirit of those songs with a wink and a nudge of irreverence and enticement. Though an able frontwoman, she doesn't ooze the simmering sensuality that ought to accompany the material's smoke-ringed sensibilities. However, when she hands the musical reins to her small but assured backup band, she literally gets in the groove via sheer exhilaration. Opening track "Get Happy," one of the set's better-known entries, starts out as gospel shoutout only to suddenly detour into jazz and jive. Likewise, "Paper Moon" becomes all but unrecognizable under the influence of its samba-like sway, while other songs are fast-paced performances propelled by kinetic drumming and brassy embellishment. McKeown's shift in direction may be unexpected, but if this is the work of a sinner, there's no reason to repent.

 
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