Harry Connick Jr., That Would Be Me (Columbia)

The big news and big difference in That Would Be Me is that Harry Connick Jr. used two producers/songwriters with whom he previously hadn’t worked.

In other words, the Grammy-winning vocalist and keyboardist stepped back a bit, giving over a lot of control to London’s Francis “Eg” White (Florence and the Machine, Adele) and Nashville’s Butch Walker (Taylor Swift, Pink) who are best recognized in the pop world.

Pop is not exactly a new stomping ground for Connick, though he first gained fame as a New Orleans jazz pianist, bandleader and eventually a noted crooner. This time out, however, he jumps fully into the world where overdubs and electronics often replace a band of musicians. On the first cut, Connick’s and White’s “(I Like It When) You Smile,” only two artists perform with Harry on piano, vocals, trumpet and French horn and White on drums, synthesizers and guitar, plus backup vocalists. It’s definitely a lively number and a happy way to kick off the disc. Connick is in excellent voice here and throughout the album and even does a spirited kind of pop/rap/scat.

The music then heads to Nashville for “(I Do) Like We Do,” written by Connick, New Orleans native Jim McCormick and Jay Knowles. Produced by Walker, whose contributions tend to include more instrumentation, including horns, it naturally boasts a modern country flavor. The backbeat, provided by New Orleans’ own, drummer Raymond Weber, also suggests a reggae rhythm. Connick sits behind an organ for this cut—a treat—with Walker taking over keyboard duties.

Gone for now are any real musical references to Connick’s beloved hometown or a glimmer of the Frank Sinatra vocal stylings from his past. He does remain a romantic, particularly on “Every Time I Fall in Love,” the only tune on which he takes a piano solo.

That Would Be Me finds expansive music production and orchestration meeting singer/songwriter sensibilities. It’s a new destination for Harry Connick Jr., whose loyal fan base will gladly follow him to this new dig.