Chris Lee with Nadine, Summer Hymns and Will Johnson 

Friday, July 25; Off Broadway

There's a hell of a lot to be said for short-and-sweet-in-the-key-of-C-major. It's nearly impossible to divine how many timeless hits have been penned in this secret chord that so pleased the Lord, but Chris Lee has known that simplicity spreading outward from the piano's centermost lever has thrilled the ear since moments immemorial. With the release of his eponymous full-length in 2000, the perfection of Lee's raspberry crooning seemed to hearken the dawning of a post-Buckley era of blue-eyed soul that no one could have foretold, and it's been euphony in C major ever since.

Fortunately, the NYC-based songster has picked his mentors well: From the start, no other than Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley has drummed on and produced Lee's simple stabs at Motown sweetness. On his most recent full-length, Cool Rock, Lee seems to be shooting for an amalgam of his previous two releases while introducing us to a Style Council-esque mode to bolster our trust in his pop intelligence. It's a smart direction to take if he's not gonna change keys. Let's just hope he brings that horn section with him.

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