During a recent appearance on “American Idol,” Harry Connick Jr. tried to impress upon the contestants that sometimes a singer singing a great song is enough to move people and that showy vocal acrobatics could actually be a distraction. On his latest release, the New Orleans native puts his money where his mouth is, writing and singing some of his most thoughtful and personal songs to date. The moods vary from playful to rueful. The instrumentation goes as far as bossa nova in one direction (the wistful “I Love Her”) to country flourishes, including pedal steel (“Greatest Love Story”) in another. There is a sultry ballad (“One Fine Thing”) some lively Southern soul (“Friend [Goin’ Home”]]), and a jazzy, NOLA foot-stomper (“S’pposed to Be”). Kim Burrell enlivens that last track, and other friends lending a hand include Wynton and Branford Marsalis. The album closes masterfully with “Time to Go,” a look at an older musician and the indignities he’s facing as an opening act far from his peak. It is one of several tracks making this an album that every Harry Connick Jr. fan should own. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Time to Go”
Harry Connick Jr. plays Symphony Hall June 21 and 23.