In the case of jazz vocalist Alysa Haas, a voice does carry, especially on her new album, Spasm. Performing covers of pop standards requires not only genuine singing talent but style and grace as well. Thankfully, Haas has no difficulties in fulfilling such requirements. Haas captures the emotional weight and film-noir sexiness to spring these classics back to life. No stranger to the stage, Haas fuels these songs with a vibrant, larger-than-life personality that is completely irresistible.
The title track is all sugar and spice as Haas echoes the jubilant piano with her own unbridled joy. However, her finest moments are on “Slap That Bass/Hit Me With a Hot Note.” The naughty innuendo in the lyrics is tailor made for the sultry playfulness of Haas’ singing, and she simply shines. Haas is clearly having fun, and her high spirits are infectious. “I Can Cook, Too” is sexy as well but Haas’ appeal has a retro feel, more Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday” than any of today’s envelope-pushing pop stars.
The musicianship is stellar and tight throughout. The shuffling rhythms of “Make You Feel My Love” engage the ears with knife-sharp hooks, and the piano playing on “I Can Cook, Too” is as inviting as Haas’ lovely singing.
Spasm captures a bright talent at the peak of her powers.