Secret Canon Vol. 1
It makes sense that Dayna Kurtz would release a disc of hidden gems. It’s a description that fits her perfectly, as well. Interpreting mostly obscure tracks from the early- and mid-20th century, Kurtz demonstrates that she’s a vocalist unafraid to take roads less traveled.
Kurtz’s full-bodied alto is immediately winning. There’s a healthy dose of sultriness and a lot of power in her instrument — think Diana Krall with a big voice. But it’s the subtleties that make her a compelling singer, particularly the light vibrato she delivers at the end of held notes.
Kurtz’s ability to belt out a tune makes her especially effective on blues pieces such as “Your Fool Again” and “Not the Only Fool In Town,” the lone original song among the 10 tracks. In her hands, even a kitschy piece like the The Blenders’ 1950s doo-wop number “Don’t Fuck Around With Love” is transformed into a sincerely delivered warning. Still, she’s gentle enough to bring a sense of after-midnight heartache to material like “If Yesterday Could Only Be Tomorrow” and “I’ll Close My Eyes.”
Kurtz has been at it for quite a while — her first record was released in 1997. Like the material she tackles here, she’s due for a discovery of her own. Perhaps the most promising aspect of this disc is that it’s titled Vol. 1.
—John Frederick Moore