Karen Oberlin has expressed her admiration of Doris Day in two different settings. Oberlin portrayed the '40s/'50s star in her New York play, Secret Love: A Tribute to the True Doris Day, and she provides a studio tribute to her on her second album, Secret Love: The Music of Doris Day. Oberlin is a suitable person for a Day tribute because, like Day, she knows how to be sweetly vulnerable -- however, she is far from a clone and never goes out of her way to emulate the singer's phrasing on this 2002 release. Day was essentially a jazz-influenced traditional pop singer; Oberlin is a jazz-influenced traditional pop singer, but she is also a jazz singer and a cabaret singer. And on Secret Love, Oberlin does all of those things equally well. Embracing songs that Day performed in the '40s and '50s, Oberlin salutes her on her own terms -- and those terms can involve jazz, traditional pop, or cabaret (depending on what she feels is appropriate). Oberlin doesn't let you forget that she is her own person; her individuality comes through whether she is turning her attention to "It's Magic," "Little Girl Blue," or "Sentimental Journey" (one of the major hits that Day sang with Les Brown's orchestra in the '40s). At times, Oberlin acknowledges Day's more cutesy side; her performance of "I'd Rather Be With You," for example, becomes too cute and precious for its own good. But Oberlin, much to her credit, often reminds you that Day was quite capable of depth and substance -- Day recorded her share of fluff, but when she had first-rate material to work with, she had no problem excelling. Secret Love isn't perfect, but all things considered, it is a thoughtful, interesting, and well-rounded tribute to the pop icon.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson