Recording information: Avatar Studios; Eg White's Studio, Kensaltown, London; RubyRed Productions, LA; Taxidermy Studios, Nashville.
Photographers: Leann Mueller; Palma Kolansky; Gavin Alder.
That Would Be Me is something of an ironic title for this 2015 album, considering how it's a relatively radical overhaul of Harry Connick, Jr.'s sound. Squalls of New Orleans horns can be felt (if not always heard); there are hints of R&B and gospel; his piano is seductive enough to flirt with the louche and, as always, Connick has a way with a ballad, easing into the slower tempos without ever seeming lazy. In this respect, That Would Be Me is recognizably a Harry Connick, Jr. record. Thing is, there's the production -- an unapologetically brash pop blast, orchestrated separately by Butch Walker and Eg White. Both producers have recorded with P!nk, and Walker, like Connick, has a background in music reality TV -- Walker got there before Connick, working on the legendary 2006 series Rock Star: Supernova -- but White's modern pop is a better touchstone for Connick's album than Walker's rock. Connick largely skirts the tastefulness of Adele and Will Young, however, allowing himself to indulge in both cheerfully robust rockers ("[I Like It When You] Smile") and cornball soft rock ("Songwriter"). Sometimes the slick textures and electric pianos evoke the golden age of Yacht Rock, but Connick is up to something clever, letting the rhythms hit with the force (if not the precise style) of hip-hop-infused R&B, and glossing the whole proceedings in a crisp, reflective sheen so it winds up reinforcing either his sly pop classicism or modern wit, depending on the listener's point of view. This savvy swing is the key to the success of That Would Be Me, because Connick winds up expanding his horizons without selling out his musical aesthetic. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine