Picks and Pans Review: There's a Small Hotel
Here's a quick way to determine if you're in the presence of a singing sensation: icy fingers running up and down your spine. That's the feeling Haran creates on this debut album recorded live at Manhattan's Algonquin Hotel. With her cashmere-smooth alto, pop-jazz inflections, superb phrasing and witty introductions, Haran stands up to repeated listening—and merits the warm applause she has been receiving. "Thank you, Wild Kingdom fans, everywhere," she comments after impishly dredging every bit of suggestiveness from Poster's ode to animal instincts, "Let's Do It."
Haran follows up with a fetching rendition of the album's title song. It is a showcase for both her infectious charm and a lower-register control that bears favorable comparison with Ella Fitzgerald's. Without gushing—considering the delicious way Haran skewers Dick Cavett and "Gallic letch" Maurice Chevalier, among other cultural icons, one can only imagine how she'd react to gushing—it's difficult to decide what to recommend most highly. Is it the haunting "Waters of March," Antonio Carlos Jobim's paean to renewal, that Haran seems to sing in one glorious breath? Is it the little known "Remind Me," one of the quartet of songs in Haran's tribute to lyricist Dorothy Fields, here imbued with a wistful sweetness: "Remind me not to find you so attractive/ Remind me that the world is full of men/ When I start to miss you, to touch your hand, to kiss you/ Remind me to count to 10."
Or is it her version of "The Way You Look Tonight," which Haran anoints as her favorite song. Listen to this beautifully modulated rendition, sung as if in the first throes of a fine romance, and it may become your favorite as well. (Columbia)