Tift Merritt has become unexpectedly (and thankfully) prolific since she signed with Fantasy Records in 2008, after going four years without releasing a record. See You on the Moon is her third album in as many years, and from the first track, the gentle and soul-infused love song "Mixtape," she demonstrates that she can maintain solid quality control at this pace and does so with ease. See You on the Moon is a more spare and intimate-sounding set than 2008's Another Country, as if she learned a bit about the value of concision with her 2009 solo acoustic live set Buckingham Solo, but Merritt clearly works well with others (the backing musicians are uniformly great, and Jim James of My Morning Jacket contributes some solid harmonies on "Feel of the World"), and while the arrangements wisely avoid cluttering the clean landscapes of her melodies, producer and engineer Tucker Martine gives the recordings a full-bodied sound even when the performances are purposefully simple. As on Merritt's other albums, the real key to See You on the Moon lies in her songs and her voice, and both are in splendid form here.
You have to admire New York Voices' diversity – this is a jazz vocal group that has embraced everything from modal post-bop and Brazilian jazz to Stevie Wonder pearls. And how many artists have devoted an entire album to jazz interpretations of Paul Simon tunes? Not everything the Voices have recorded is great, but more often than not, their sense of adventure and open-mindedness have served them well. After paying tribute to pop-rocker Simon in 1997, the Voices make big band music the main focus of Sing, Sing, Sing. This time, they are backed by a big band and turn their attention to gems associated with swing icons like Benny Goodman ("Sing, Sing, Sing," "Don't Be That Way"), Duke Ellington ("In A Mellow Tone"), Woody Herman ("Early Autumn"), and Artie Shaw ("Stardust"). Although many of these classics came out of the Swing Era, Sing, Sing, Sing also has its share of post-World War II gems. Ralph Burns' lovely "Early Autumn" is a gem that Herman recorded in 1948, when he was exploring bop with his Second Herd and the Four Brothers. And "Orange Colored Sky," which was a major hit for Nat "King" Cole in 1950, is quite relevant to the CD's big band theme because Cole recorded it with the Stan Kenton Orchestra.