The Hot Club of Cowtown

Austin’s Hot Club of Cowtown plays acoustic swing as if it never went away. New bassist Jake Erwin, studio pianist Joe Kerr and clean production from Gorf Morlix make this, HCC’s fourth CD, its most accomplished release; gone are any lingering vestiges of campiness. Elana Fremerman’s melodic gems float on her violin shadings and gentle vocals like a butterfly on a late summer breeze. “Forget-me-Nots” and “Secret of Mine” stand out, as do her terrific cover of Rodgers and Hart’s “You Took Advantage of Me.” Whit Smith’s songs are harder-edged lyrically: “Sleep” ponders depression, and “It Stops With Me” combines a nice Django rhythm with Cole Porter cleverness to portray a manipulative woman. Smith makes Richard Saga’s “Chip Away the Stone” into his own; its love-weariness recalls early Tom Waits. HCC proves that songs can be written and performed in a 1930s-1940s swing-jazz style and still swing just fine.