By Will Hermes
Updated January 22, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

With a vocal persona flickering between latter-day Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole, this jazz androgyne can transform any tune into anemotional topography. Forsaking his usual standards for rock-era pop by Elvis Costello, John Lennon, Prince, and others, Jimmy Scott occasionally tips into melodrama while the producers nod. But when the magic happens on Holding Back the Years, that voice ushers you into a secret sitting room of the heart, and you won’t think of saying no. B