Recording information: Avatar Studios (2012-11-09&2012-11-10&2012-).
Photographer: Timothy Saccenti.
Arranger: Gil Goldstein.
A technically proficient singer with a distinctive style that straddles the line between Ella Fitzgerald's extroverted, loosely swinging approach and Linda Eder's more restrained Broadway and cabaret style, Jane Monheit is a virtuoso. One minute she's dazzling you with her resonant bebop-ready chops and the next she's making you cry with a single verse of a ballad. On her ninth studio album, 2013's Heart of the Matter, Monheit brings all of her gifts to bear on a set of mature, heartfelt songs that rank among her best. The album also works as a companion piece to 2009's The Lovers, the Dreamers and Me. With that album, Monheit celebrated such milestones as the birth of her son Jack and turning 30. She then followed up with 2010's equally as compelling if more swinging and straight-ahead jazz-sounding Home. Heart of the Matter, with its ruminations on motherhood and fidelity, returns Monheit to the more intimate, contemporary pop sound of The Lovers, the Dreamers and Me. Working with producer/arranger Gil Goldstein (who also adds his lyrical accordion sound to several tracks) and her usual rhythm section of drummer Rick Montalbano (her husband), pianist Michael Kanan, and bassist Neal Miner, Monheit has crafted a sumptuous, immaculately arranged album that once again shines a light on her immense vocal talent. Whether she's framed by a lush orchestral backing on the bossa nova "Depende de Nós" or a spare electric piano and flute arrangement on "Two Lonely People," Heart of the Matter finds Monheit nestled deep into the pocket of her own cross-genre sound, and it's a warm place to be. ~ Matt Collar
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