Adams is a striking anomaly in these Top 40 dog days of painted ladies and video dolls. Two and a half years ago, the singer-songwriter from Kansas City turned heads by soaring up the charts without squeezing into spandex and fishnet. Equal parts jazz chanteuse and choir belter, she sits at the piano, pouring the contents of her lovestruck heart into her songs.
On her second album, Adams revives the rich blend of jazz, R&B and gospel that propelled her platinum debut disc, Circle of One. Here she continues to prove herself an astute songwriter (half of Evolution’s 12 songs are her own), while further unwrapping her interpretive gifts. Adams enlivens Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” with jazz and gospel touches, makes James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” fit for Billie Holliday and transforms the global commentary of the title song (written by Brazilian musician Ivan Lins and pop songwriter Brock Walsh) into both optimistic fantasy and mournful prayer. Listen and you just might forget MTV ever existed. (Fontana/Mercury)