By Noah Tree
Haunted opens with such a tripwire offering. Marcus Simeone, gifted with a gorgeous instrument that begs to wrench your gut, always keeps it in control just this side of sanity. The eponymous title tune, penned with Tracy Stark (the CD’s musical director—and pianist on this cut) sets the stage for the rest of the album which offers other personal assists: John Bucchino ac-companies with piano on his own ”If I Ever Say I’m Over You” and the multi-talented, lovely Heather Sullivan does the same—with an umbra of additional vocal—for “Somewhere Lies the Moon.”
Otherwise, with new maturity, heft and breadth, Marcus has effortlessly woven 15 songs into a cohesive and conversational soliloquy: a comfortable cuddle of works freshly hewn. The turnabout balladizing of “If I Only Had a Heart” (Harburg/Arlen)—which unexpectedly surprises—appreciates the lyric of what has usually passed as archetypic patter. An almost haiku rendition of the Rodgers and Hart “Nobody’s Heart” proves less is more. Holland/Dozier/Holland’s ”Where Did Our Love Go” from Motown is whipped up as spicey salsa. Mercer/Arlen’s “Come Rain or Come Shine” is a passionately contagious purifying rhythm.
The bold spirit of Marcus Simeone abounds, his inner voice surfaces and resounds, making this a deservedly vaunted, undaunted, Haunted.