"A Gift of Love"

33rd Street

There's something about Tuck & Patti's "A Gift of Love" that smacks of re-gifting.

Originally released in Europe and Asia, where apparently there are still lots of folks who can't get their fill of American Top 40 hits -- or even cover versions thereof -- this collection of mostly boomer favorites has washed up on our shores following its overseas success. But it's hard to imagine that singer Patti Cathcart and guitarist Tuck Andress would have chosen the same heavily rotated radio staples if the album weren't intended for foreign markets. Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love," Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time," Minnie Riperton's "Lovin' You," Leon Russell's "Song for You," the Carpenters' "Close to You" -- one overworked tune follows another until familiarity breeds discontent.

Granted, some of the interpretations are appealing, even inventive. Andress's solo guitar arrangement of Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are," the album's sole instrumental, boasts a shimmering charm. A bigger treat is hearing Cathcart follow in the footsteps of Manhattan Transfer on "Hold Me Tight and Don't Let Go," or spinning her own fanciful scat-laced rendition of Riperton's signature song. The duo's remarkably close-knit sound is occasionally augmented by cello and keyboard -- a strategy that produces, among others things, a chamber-pop version of "Up on the Roof." Trouble is, the longer you listen to this disc, the more you become convinced that the dull song choices were inspired by a visit to a karaoke bar.

-- Mike Joyce

Appearing Friday through Sunday at Blues Alley. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Tuck & Patti, call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8109. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)