As American Idol veterans go, Season 10 finalist Haley Reinhart has proven among the most compelling. First, she established a retro-pop groove with her stellar 2012 debut LP, Listen Up!, as standout single “Free” demonstrated mightily. Next, Reinhart collaborated with Postmodern Jukebox for a string of sultry, jazzed-up covers (like the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” and Radiohead’s “Creep”), her performances oozing old-school charisma and vivacious sass.
Now she’s got her sophomore album, Better, with its exuberant title track picking up where her debut left off while infusing select influences (from R&B to torch-song bravado) she’s embraced since then. Reinhart deserves bona fide accolades at this point, not just for delivering on the promise she displayed on Idol but for challenging herself with decidedly wild-card projects along the way. Put simply, she was good to begin with, and now she’s—yep—better.