I Thought About You
Jan Cronin is a versatile vocalist who has performed in several genres, found success in pop/rock and blues, but has long desired to sing a collection of the Great American Songbook which she does here on the beyond intimate I Thought About You. Cronin’s album is deeply personal as each song she selected has a special meaning to her. She’s absorbed the jazz vocabulary and feeling by spending lots of time in DC clubs as well as those in NYC and has built a true, by now, intuitive understanding that enables her to convey these songs in a special way. You may know many of these tunes but feel that you’ve discovered something new in them listening to Cronin, framed by only swinging guitarist Andy Reiss and bassist Jim Ferguson, who are never intrusive but mostly caress their sounds around Cronin’s delivery. Sometimes it feels as if Cronin is in the same room singing to you. Focus in on the relatable aspects of these songs and find that quiet spot and time to listen, preferably with someone you can cuddle up to, as few albums are as cozy as this one.
Gershwin’s “S’ wonderful” commences the program, with Cronin singing warmly and expressively, eschewing any overt showmanship or exaggerated romanticism in favor of emphasizing what she feels is the heart of the song – “That you still care for me.” Ferguson’s walking bassline is simply right on the mark here. She imparts a deep romantic quality however, to “The Shadow of Your Smile,” making one wish for that favorite bottle of wine to be shared on the porch, balcony, or better yet, by the fireplace. She carries this same mood into “The Night We Called It a Day,” at a pace where the listener hangs on every word, eventually realizing how sad the story is. She brings a freshness to the title track, putting it into perspective how our mind moves to the missing person, and the instinctive things we do – “When I pulled down the shade, I really felt blue/ I peeked through the cracks, I looked at the tracks/The ones going back to you/And what did I do/I thought about you.” Haven’t we all been in this state of mind before?
There’s a bluesy tinge and terrific guitar in the one original, the Cronin/Madill penned “The Scent of Breakfast and You,” where she plies similar ground as in the title track lyrically but in a more intimate delivery. She and her accompanists take “My Foolish Heart” at a deliberate pace, the epitome of that aforementioned instrumental caressing until Ferguson unleashes a most lyrical pizzicato turn. You may blink or even inch back in your seat as Cronin whispers “your lips are too close to mine.” She finds a balance between allure and disdain in her take on “Peel Me a Grape” while those hints of disdain turn up a few notches to revenge in “Cry Me a River.” On the other hand, she exudes genuine bliss in “Lullaby of Birdland,” another swinger for her able accompanists. Yet, Cronin is mostly in a yearning state throughout these tunes, appropriately closing with deeply felt regret in “Some Other Time.”
It takes so much courage to deliver an album of Great American Songbook fare given that its’ been done countless times, yet Cronin does not shrink from this challenge, knowing that she brings a special intimacy, personality, and above all, and element of surprise to these well-worn tunes. As familiar as you may be with these tunes, chances are that you’ll feel you’ve made a new discovery.