Kurt Elling celebrates the Brill building's pop-song heyday with a beautifully crafted, razor-edged mix of bittersweet ballads, reconfigured doo-wop and upgraded soul.
Elling has a lovely voice and the charm, passion and hip phrasing to fill the most straightforward lyric with emotional ambiguity. Laurence Hobgood's arrangements are equally nuanced, full of subtle beats, tweaked harmonies and purposeful instrumental breaks.
"You Send Me" is a sharp, contemporary highlight, "A House is Not Home" laden with pathos and "Pleasant Valley Sunday" a dystopian bad dream.
Four stars: * * * *