Look At Me Now is a gorgeous album of standards from Parisian chanteuse Laika Fatien. Her tone is graceful and clear, yet nonetheless sultry. She is accompanied quite ably here by a jazz quintet highlighted by the fine tenor saxophonist David el Malek. The disc's thirteen songs range from such chestnuts as "Eleanor Rigby" and "Inchworm" to settings by the singer of such adventurous fare as Wayne Shorter's "This is For Albert Ayler" to her own original lyrics.
The mood of the album is very intimate, with pianist Pierre de Bethman, drummer Dre Pallemaerts bassist Jules Bikoko Bin'Jami, acoustic guitarist Alban Sautour, and el Malek laying down some smoky sounding cabaret jazz. Laika's voice is rich, but never overpowering. She renders the onomatopoeia of Nicholas Payton's "Zigaboogaloo" with aplomb, but never tries to bamboozle you with scat or vocalese.
Though the songs are familiar, the arrangements are all pretty fresh. On "The Best Is Yet To Come," for instance, the group sidesteps any comparison to Bennett or Sinatra with a uniquely syncopated rendering. Pierre de Bethman doesn't so much re-arrange "Eleanor Rigby" as reimagine it as a languid ballad. Released two years ago in Europe, Look At Me Now is finally hitting our shores; what a welcome import it is.