The British duo Everything but the Girl has toured alone and with an orchestra in the past, but Thursday night at Gaston Hall it found a rather happy medium. A five-piece fusion jazz band featuring saxophonist Kirk Whalum supplemented Ben Watt's keyboards and guitars and helped frame Tracey Thorn's dark and insinuating alto voice for most of the 20-song set.
Whalum's presence was the first clue that the duo was going to emphasize the pop-jazz flavor of its new album, "The Language of Life," rather than some of its older and more intimately arranged material. Even so, an acoustic interlude of duets that ended with a lovely version of "Apron Strings" provided some welcome variety amid the lushly synthesized and horn-embellished arrangements that distinguished most of the music, including Thorn's cool but nonetheless expressive renditions of "Letting Love Go" and "Meet Me in the Morning" and Watt's unabashedly sentimental "The Road" -- by far, the best use of his dreamy tenor voice. What's more, despite the duo's British reserve and middle-of-the-road pop instincts of late, Whalum uncorked a hot tenor sax solo on "Me and Bobby D."