During a career that's stretched for more than 40 years, James Darren has touched many of the bases in the entertainment game. He started in the 1950s when he was a teenage idol of the big screen, and then moved on to appearances on any number of TV shows over the ensuing years. One of the more notable of these appearances was his portrayal of a swinging 1960s Rat Pack crooner on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This wasn't one of those too-often-seen instances of miscasting: The man can sing, and this, his latest album, is telling evidence of his gift. Coincidentally, ironically, or whatever, Darren comes across a bit like another singer who began his career in the 1950s: the similarly surnamed Bobby Darin. And like his near namesake, Darren suffers from unfair and unnecessary comparisons to Frank Sinatra. It probably doesn't help matters that several songs on the album are strongly associated with Sinatra, including "All the Way," "Come Fly With Me," "Night and Day," and "I've Got You Under My Skin." If any singer with a style like Darren's were forced to limit his selections to songs not already done by Sinatra, the vocal pickings would be slim indeed. Darren has something to say with each of these tunes, and he says it well. That he is blessed with outstanding arrangements by some of the best in the business, like Alan Broadbent, Sammy Nestico, Tom Ranier, and the late Marty Paich, contributes mightily to making this session an enjoyable listening experience. The instrumental accompaniment includes appearances by some of the finest jazz musicians extant. On a midtempo "I've Got the World on a String," Darren is backed by a strong tenor saxophone solo by Pete Christlieb. "Sophisticated Lady" features Ranier's piano and the graceful, floating figures of Warren Luening on a Sweets Edison-like muted trumpet. Luening makes a similar contribution on "I'll Be Seeing You." Darren's rendering of one of Duke Ellington's most popular tunes stands up well with most interpretations. Darren is accompanied by a big band, with strings attached, on eight of the cuts. This group provides the background for very lush renditions of such standards as Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields' hauntingly beautiful "The Way You Look Tonight" (on which Luening's flügelhorn is prominent). For the remaining nine tunes, Darren is backed by a small group of fine musicians, including Luening, Ranier, Christlieb, Chuck Berghoffer, Gregg Field, and Ron Escheté. Darren offers a legitimate option to the hip male singers of the day. His is a crooning, swinging style that reached its zenith with Bing Crosby, Sinatra, and Darin, and was carried on by the inestimable Tony Bennett and Darren himself. This One's From the Heart is an amiable 52 minutes of great music, excellently arranged and performed by a good singer backed by fine musicians.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan