Park Avenue Music

Jeannette Faith sings with a cool detachment that hangs in the air like smoke from a Gauloise. Songwriter Burt Bacharach explored the milieu, which favored circular finesse over linear thrust, in the ’60s with his preferred chanteuse, Dionne Warwick, as did her Brazilian analogue, Astrud Gilberto. Its emphasis on lyrical melodies underscored by tracks that rely more on texture than dynamics has inspired the works of such trip-hop ensembles as Portishead and Esthero, as well as singers like Julia Fordham and Julee Cruise; include Park Avenue Music in that company, too. Here, Faith sings beautifully; when she connects, as she does on “Crash,” this album’s best song, the results are magical and quite dreamy. Her collaborator, Wes Steed, provides a static-drenched, dub-influenced backdrop to Faith’s synth washes and electric-piano caresses, with varying appropriateness. Still, a rather fine debut.