Album: Paul Carracka, Different Hat (Absolute/Carrack-UK)

A Different Hat is that rarity, an album featuring the singer live in the studio with a full orchestra, in the manner once commonplace for an earlier era of crooners.

These days, there are precious few singers capable of surviving such naked exposure, but David Cullen's vivid arrangements have been kept in suitable keys, which enables Paul Carrack to inhabit the material comfortably. Randy Newman's "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" is a clear standout: Carrack's understated delivery captures the song's core of ennui, while Cullen's orchestration evokes the warmer, nobler aspirations lurking beneath. Peggy Lee's "I Don't Know Enough about You" is another winner, the languid jazz arrangement including Carrack's own piano break in the style of George Shearing. A commendable success.

DOWNLOAD THIS I Think It's Going to Rain Today; I Don't Know Enough about You; I Live on a Battlefield