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Dayna Kurtz/Beautiful Yesterday

Kismit Records

There's no logical reason why singer-songwriter Dayna Kurtz is not a full-blown star. Problem is, where does this New Jersey native fit in terms of genre? She doesn't even seem to know. "I'm not of the jazz, blues, folk, R&B, rock, or pop worlds enough to belong to any of them, but all of those things are in there," she says in her press bio. But Kurtz is the kind of singer you could hear for the first time on the radio and swear you know that sepia-toned voice. It will remind some of a throaty Diana Krall or maybe even Cassandra Wilson, with whom she shares a spry sense of eccentricity. "Beautiful Yesterday," her third album, is an elaborate affair full of brooding jazz and blues and the occasional folk tune and R&B slow-burner. She's a master of manipulating the listener's mood, as she demonstrates on "Everybody Knows." The song begins as sinister and slinky, then unexpectedly evolves into a sunny, gospel-tinged chorus. The centerpiece, though, is her duet with Norah Jones on "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)," with each singer trading her best he-done-me-wrong lament. One listen to Kurtz's vocal pyrotechnics here, and it's clear she will amass a following soon enough and send her star on the ascent. JAMES REED

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