The Blue Dahlia

The Blue Dahlia were a major departure for Athan Maroulis, who is best known for his lead vocals with the industrial/darkwave band Spahn Ranch. Sounding nothing at all like Spahn Ranch or any of the other alternative outfits who Maroulis had performed with -- which include goth rockers Fahrenheit 451 and the industrial-oriented Tubalcain -- the Blue Dahlia are a throwback to the vocal jazz and jazz-influenced pre-rock pop of the '40s. As the Blue Dahlia's lead singer, Maroulis is cast as a smooth, romantic crooner along the lines of Billy Eckstine, Nat King Cole, and early Frank Sinatra. In fact, the Blue Dahlia take their name from Raymond Chandler's classic 1946 film noir thriller, which starred Alan Ladd as a World War II veteran who was falsely accused of his wife's murder and blonde bombshell Veronica Lake as the one of the people who believed in his innocence. Maroulis' companion/collaborator in the Blue Dahlia is producer/arranger Skip Heller, who was well aware of the singer's work with Spahn Ranch but knew that he was also a major fan of jazz and pre-rock pop. Maroulis and Heller started making plans for an album in 1999, and in 2000 the Blue Dahlia's self-titled debut album was released on Cleopatra's Stardust label. In 2001, the Blue Dahlia followed up with the similar A Tribute to Frank Sinatra, which paid homage to the pop icon's '40s work. ~ Alex Henderson

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