My Favorite Color

My Favorite Color

Here on her first studio album in seven years and 10th overall, Chicago-based singer Jackie Allen returns with a winner. The excellent and subtle “Blame It on My Youth” (backed by acoustic guitar and piano) stands out, as does lightly swinging “Sleepin’ Bee.” She goes beyond jazz and standards work to dig into Jimi Hendrix’s “Manic Depression,” with her vocals (particularly during the break) adding spooky turmoil that’s entirely appropriate. Later she sticks with a dark, noirish vibe on the standard “Born to Be Blue.” More fun are the ‘70s FM staple “Stuck in the Middle with You” and the jazz classic “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” where her low-key delivery is more conversational as the band with a horn section churns out snaky R&B. Elsewhere, she lights up her more formal torch-singing persona for a great take on Burt Bacharach’s “A House Is Not a Home.” Allen also wrote two tunes here (“Call Me Winter” and “Diana”) that sit comfortably next to the other material. It's a welcome return from one of the smarter singers working today.

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