Setting poetry to music is no mean feat, and things get even riskier when the music is breezy dance pop and the poetry is erotic free verse. Undertaken with the participation of Erica Jong, who provides a languorous reading of her poem “Smoke,” Vanessa Daou’s Zipless–as in fuck, natch–(released last year by Daou and her husband-arranger-producer Peter Daou on their Lotus label and recently rereleased by MCA) manages to overcome these odds. Gently placing Jong’s poetry amid slinky rhythms and coolly coaxed melodies, Daou delivers the poetry with natural grace, accenting its inherent musicality while giving it an airy, sensual tunefulness. Peter Daou’s arrangements–an urbane house/hip-hop/jazz/pop hybrid–limns Vanessa’s musical shadows without obscuring them. The careful beauty with which Jong’s poetry conveys hunger and reverie only becomes more palpable drifting out of Daou’s mouth; her vocals clearly evoke the breathy gentility of Brazilian chanteuse Astrud Gilberto. It’s no musical masterpiece, but it is a strikingly successful artistic appropriation. She opens for Guru’s Jazzmatazz. Saturday, 11:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Halsband.