Composer Ricky Ian Gordon's songs have been widely recorded, but Bright Eyed Joy is the first disc devoted entirely to his music—spare, piano-driven works that blur the line between opera and a

Composer Ricky Ian Gordon's songs have been widely recorded, but Bright Eyed Joy is the first disc devoted entirely to his music—spare, piano-driven works that blur the line between opera and art songs, peppered with jazz-flavored dissonant chords. Here, Gordon sets verse by such writers as Langston Hughes, Dorothy Parker, and Edna St. Vincent Millay to music, deftly using his arrangements to augment the poems' emotional impact rather than compete with the texts. Gordon's musical influences are evident: The sultry arrangement for Hughes' "Love Song for Lucinda"—performed by Audra McDonald and Darius deHaas—is reminiscent of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, while a wry interpretation of Parker's "Résumé" echoes Sondheim's flair for comic timing, which singers Judy Blazer and Chris Trakas exploit. Gordon is already esteemed by prominent performers, several of whom lend their voices to this disc; Bright Eyed Joy should make him a favorite with listeners, too.—WH