I’ve been a huge fan of New Orleans crooner Harry Connick Jr. for more than a quarter of a century. The still- boyish Connick is 48 years old now and has more than 30 albums to his credit. And while I remain a fan, I have to confess that he hasn’t delivered a record that’s blown me away since 2007’s hometown homage (and Hurricane Katrina fundraiser) “Oh, My Nola.” In fact, his two 2013 offerings — “Smokey Mary” and “Every Man Should Know” — are decidedly ho-hum.
Newest platter “That Would Be Me,” while not a Connick classic, represents a fine return to form. For the first time in his career, Connick worked with a pair of producers (Eg White, Butch Walker) and it seems to have rejuvenated him.
“For the most part, nobody’s ever made musical decisions for me before,” Connick allows. “This is brand new territory. I’m used to jumping in head-first, but all of a sudden I found myself not in full control of the wheel anymore.”
Things get off to a first-rate start with “(I Like It When You) Smile,” “(I Do) Like We Do” and “Tryin’ to Matter,” and Connick later soars on “Do You Really Need Her,” “You Don’t Need a Man,” “(I Think I) Love You a Little Bit” and “Every Time I Fall in Love.” Welcome back, Harry. (Jeffrey Sisk)