If a member of a jazz vocal group records a solo album and the artist hasn't been doing a lot of recording on his/her own, the question inevitably becomes: will the solo project closely resemble the group's output, or will it be an opportunity for him/her to try something different? In the case of Lauren Kinhan, the latter is definitely applicable. Kinhan is best known for her work with the adventurous New York Voices, which she joined in 1992 (replacing Sara Krieger) and was still a member of 18 years later in mid-2010, but her second solo album, Avalon, doesn't follow in New York Voices' jazz-oriented footsteps. Avalon is jazz-influenced, certainly, but it isn't really jazz-oriented; instead, Kinhan the solo artist generally favors what is probably best described as jazzy adult alternative along the lines of Norah Jones or Julia Fordham. Of course, jazz snobs -- being the very predictable and knee-jerk individuals that they are -- will no doubt denounce Avalon as Kinhan's sell-out album. But then, Kinhan (who wrote or co-wrote everything on this 49-minute CD) never claimed to be a jazz purist; her previous solo album, 2000's Hardly Blinking, was produced by none other than Phil Ramone -- not Orrin Keepnews, not Todd Barkan, or even Creed Taylor, but Phil Ramone. Kinhan obviously needed to express more of her pop/rock side, and she does so with enjoyably satisfying results on introspective solo items such as "Hide the Moon and Stars," "Here After," and "There Alone Go I." Besides, it isn't as though New York Voices have been violently opposed to pop/rock material; one of their most interesting albums is a jazz tribute to Paul Simon. But Avalon isn't about jazz interpretations of pop/rock tunes; this is mostly an album of pop/rock/adult alternative with jazz overtones, and listeners who are broad-minded rather than doctrinaire in their thinking will find Avalon to be a likable solo effort from the long-time New York Voices member.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson