Luxury Goods

Taking a chance on Jane Monheit.

With the holiday shopping season upon us, it's time once again for those tastefully art-designed jewel cases bearing tastefully arranged jazz-pop engineered to loosen American consumers' grips on their well-worn plastic. You know the kind: Diana Krall, Jamie Cullum, Norah Jones, Harry Connick Jr.—any singer likely to appear on a CD sold at the sales desk at Banana Republic or to compete with the sound of the hissing espresso machine at Starbucks. Most people need to be encouraged to buy luxury goods, to be convinced that it's in their best interest to blow their paycheck on another black merino pullover, as opposed to, I dunno, salad for their kids; this music does the heavy lifting, convincing the shopper that the world supporting that decision is already his or hers, if only for the moment. After all, poor people don't listen to Michael Bublé; they're more about Kid Rock.

Taking a Chance on Love (Sony Classical), 26-year-old Jane Monheit's fourth album, is another fine contribution to the credit-card canon: There are lush, string-swaddled arrangements and swinging bass solos and cannily selected songs and velvet-rope production and high-gloss photographs depicting Monheit in a frilly Angel Sanchez dress draped over high-end leather furniture. Monheit's singing hews closer to Barbra Streisand's pinched emotionalism than Krall's icy poise, which gives "In the Still of the Night" and "Embraceable You," here both built around Brazilian acoustic-guitar grooves, a warm fireside glow that suggests Monheit may have life in her beyond the bustling byways of the free market. Tree-lighting ceremonies, perhaps?

Jane Monheit plays Dimitriou's Jazz Alley at 7:30 p.m. Tues., Dec. 7–Wed., Dec. 8; 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Thurs., Dec. 9–Sat., Dec. 11; and 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Sun., Dec. 12. $20.50–$24.50.

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