Jane Monheit, "The Heart of the Matter" (Emarcy/Decca)
Jane Monheit sometimes seemed detached from the material on her earlier albums as she overemphasized her jazz chops to try to live up to the hype surrounding her.
On her 11th release, "The Heart of the Matter," a more mature Monheit harnesses her impressive vocal technique to emphasize the lyrical content and deliver heartfelt interpretations of songs such as a Beatles' medley "Golden Slumbers/Long and Winding Road" and Randy Newman's "When She Loved Me."
Monheit is now comfortable with her own genre-crossing musical persona that enables her to swing and scat like a jazz singer or belt out a song like a Broadway star. She feels liberated enough to choose an eclectic mix of songs, including the jazz ballad "I Get Along Without You Very Well," two songs by Brazilian Ivan Lins sung in the original Portuguese, and her own song "Night Night Stars," a gentle lullaby for her son.
The album is enhanced by Gil Goldstein's distinctive arrangements. Buffy Sainte-Marie's '60s love song "Until It's Time For You To Go" sounds like a French cabaret song as Monheit stretches out the notes, and the Sesame Street song "Sing" gets a bossa nova treatment.