One of the blessings of today’s cabaret-jazz rooms is spotting new talent on the rise. In a world filled with mediocre frauds who get more attention than they deserve, one wonders where the torchbearers are for true cabaret and jazz classics. In the case of Jonathan Karrant, look no further. He’s got the goods. Karrant is a fairly new face on the cabaret/jazz scene on both coasts. And, he is making waves. But not without comparisons. Occasionally, he echoes Harry Connick, Jr.’s early work fused with the influence of Tony Bennett’s mature phrasing. Not bad. His shows at the Metropolitan Room and, more recently, at 54 Below, proved he’s on the way to serious attention with a fan base that is growing. His supple baritone is warm and mellow on the ballad-laden CD. Too, he shows he can also swing with the best of them on the likes of a fun “Doodlin’.”
A particularly warm delivery on “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” sets him apart from the norm. Unlike the overrated Michael Bublé, who leans toward a finger-snapping loungy style too often, Karrant embraces his phrasing slowly with the passion of a soft wind on a warm night. He offers gentle readings that can’t help but pull the listener in as he invests this commitment to every song. On “Please Send Me Someone to Love,” he eschews melodrama and gently asks rather than pleas for an end to his emptiness. It is like a humble request. This shows greatness from one so new. Such qualities embody this new jazz guy who is sure to make noise as his career progresses.
On this debut album, he displays first-rate musicianship throughout that serves to complement each song as he segues from a moody guy (à la Sinatra) to a gentle man yearning for better days. This is particularly evident on an achingly restrained “May I Come In?,” followed by a swinging “Nobody But Me.” They exemplify what this album conveys: romantic musings from a young guy with an old soul. Karrant has many qualities that are rock solid, starting with the ability to skip from deep emotion, without being maudlin, to a dollop of happiness with the album’s title cut. It takes a certain maturity to throw these sentiments around with the flair of a seasoned pro. His interpretation of “Drinkin’ Again,” one of the highlights, sets a scene in a smoky gin mill at closing time. Saloon songs like this can’t help but recall the Sinatra-esque style that first brought Connick attention early on (minus his New Orleans jazz touch). Karrant has a lilting voice that is so inviting it compels the listener to hit the repeat button often. The more you listen, the more you want to hear. Each cut is as close to perfection as you’ll get.
The entire CD is a truth-telling, romantic effort with feelings so deep they are best measured in leagues. From the beautiful title track, that tells how all one needs is love, to the last wistful cut, he fills the void left by those greats from another era. More proof comes when he enriches “In My Life” and a beautiful “This Is Always,” both given riveting readings that are trenchant and flawless. Not enough can be said about the great arrangements, impeccably rich and enveloping instrumentations and musicians on every cut of this disc. For now, treat yourself to this album.
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