When I heard that Nellie McKay was making a record paying tribute to Doris Day, I thought, "Perfect." I spent some time with McKay here at NPR, as she wrote and produced an original tune for our series Project Song, and I can honestly say that she's from another time. Doris Day and the '50s seems just about right.
Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day is an album free of cynicism, full of heart and more elegant than a mere nostalgia trip. McKay chose from more than 600 of Day's recordings for her tribute. Many of these songs are part of The Great American Songbook: "Sentimental Journey," "I Remember You," "The Very Thought of You" and so on. Songs by George and Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, Burt Bacharach and Les Brown, as well as an original — a small curtsy to Doris Day, written by McKay, called "If I Ever Had a Dream."
What surprised me over and over again, hearing this record for the first time, was how fresh it sounded; how the spare and creative arrangements kept these songs from turning into background music. What didn't surprise me is how beautifully rich McKay's voice sounds as she fills these tunes with the sun and warmth they deserve.