Sound Advice… Pomranz

by Rob Lester

We have two male singers: Craig Pomranz and Steven Pasquale, both singing in especially sweet, lyrical voices and both including composers Gershwin, Rodgers, Berlin, and Strouse.

Craig Pomranz – MORE THAN A SEASONAL THING [Previs Productions]

“To everything, there is a season …”: For balladeer Craig Pomranz, what is always in season is a very, very sweet sound because of his high, honeyed tenor. He lays on that honey pretty thick throughout his CD filled with songs about different kinds of weather and whether love is in the wind or not. “Legato” is his motto, it appears, and the long, oh-so-gorgeous vocal lines are a treat for the ears. The lyric may be mirthful or mournful, reveling in romance or dripping with drama, but it’s more about the voice. Despite the topic of changes in climate (meteorological or emotional), this CD with some stylized singing is almost always warm, warm, warm…

In More Than a Seasonal Thing, ’tis the season to be jolly, if gently jolly, and the timing of the release gives a jump start for anyone looking for new versions of those tunes we will be inundated with shortly. There are no religious Christmas songs, but there are the evergreens adrift in white flakes: “Winter Wonderland” and “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”—because Pomranz plows through the snow sagas with his gearshift still set on “gentle glide,” neither becomes overly peppy/perky. More intriguing is a medley of two songs introduced by Judy Garland: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” with its wary and weary moods brought out by being blended with John Meyer’s heartbreaking leave-taking “After the Holidays.”

Another nicely done way of doing double duty to take a holiday in: Holiday Inn, the Irving Berlin movie score, is represented by its song about January first: “Let’s Start the New Year Right.” Right at the beginning of the CD it’s heard with plenty of optimism and innocence and then, later on the album, it’s combined with “Auld Lang Syne.” There’s another dose of Berlin with his “Heat Wave” as the big, very rollicking energy blast, set up by—or, rather, interrupting—a sublime idea exquisitely performed: Carousel’s “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over” taken at a slow, luxurious tempo. In another Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, “It Might As Well Be Spring,” that “restless” feeling and “melancholy way” the lyric dwells on is glossed over here, although it gives way to another excellent song about a kind of seasonal affective disorder. That is the reflective “Blackberry Winter” (Alec Wilder/ Loonis McGlohon). And speaking of thoughtful, artful pieces about disquieting moments, also welcome is “Night Song.” It’s lovely to hear this too-rarely done piece by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, written for the score of Golden Boy. The listening is easy, as he sings to soothe with the smooth Porgy and Bess lullaby, “Summertime.”