Ever since Clay Aiken ran over, got out of his car, checked the body and drove over it in reverse singing Mack the Knife on American Idol -- I have been dying for him to do a standards set. He always had an excellent way with phrasing. And that is what separates someone from just bulldozing through a song and making it truly live and breathe. There has to be a connection that goes beyond vocal ability and also, there has to be a great band. Thankfully this CD has both, naturally. The songs are allowed to simmer and build and stray just far enough from their more well known arrangements to sound familiar but also adventurous. "Suspicious Minds" keeps its jaunty juxtaposition of rhythm vs. lyrics. And What he does to an old war horse as "Misty" is just grand, he stretches and plays with those vowels like a cat with string. "Moon River," is simply flawless, ranking up there with Raul Malo's wonderful take.
I would love to see Aiken tackle more material in this genre, his voice has grown to this lovely smokey quality that still has a killer upper register. It is more than adept at carrying the weight of these lyrical gems. It would be amazing, say about 15 or so years from now, to have a library from him that is in its infancy and be able to sit next to those that have mastered the American songbook.