This local folkie has spent the past few years sifting through the ample riches of the Great American Songbook, first on 2006’s excellent Sing You Sinners, then on Lafayette, a spirited follow-up taped live at Joe’s Pub in New York. Hundreds of Lions marks her return to original material, but it’s clear that the time she spent doing songs by yesterday’s greats inspired her: this is her smartest, slyest set yet, with shapelier melodies, wittier wordplay, and more-adventurous arrangements.
“Love can be fun if you don’t put in the work,” she sings over a sneaky Gypsy-cabaret groove in “The Foxes” — “stick with the honey, stay as long as it’s worth.” Later, in the swinging Glenn Miller miniature “The Rascal,” she unveils some kind of new-school truism: “Sugar tit, sugar tit, you better think twice/What looks like cake don’t taste so nice.”
McKeown’s singing might not knock your socks off; her voice can get a little thin and a little insistent. But she always goes for it, even when she maybe shouldn’t. That’s a class act.