K.J. Denhert

No. 9

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This is definitely an album of nines for singer/songwriter/guitarist K.J. Denhert: nine songs, nine musicians, and recorded over a nine-month time span. With omens like that it promises to be good, and it delivers. There are plenty of covers here, including her expressive voice doing justice to standards like "The Shadow of Your Smile" and "Pennies from Heaven." But things do take interesting turns, as with the "accidental" bonus recording of "Shadow of Your Smile," which features some scintillating piano work and scat singing. Equally fascinating are her takes on "Smoke on the Water," which she reinvents as a jazz piece, taking a rock classic to a new place that surprisingly works, and the Beatles' "Help!" This is slowed down and given a sympathetic string arrangement, bringing real freshness to the song and opening it up beautifully. Her three originals are good, including the lush reggae of "Choose Your Weapon," but it's the sweetly twisted covers that take the prize here.

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