Thursday, 29 October 2009

Michael Bublé - Crazy Love Album Review (2009)

For The Music Magazine...

Crazy Love is the fourth album from Canadian crooner Michael Bublé. As you might expect, it is packed with predictable cover versions, more brass than a Mark Ronson wet-dream and plenty of Bublés sleek vocal swagger. Collaborations are kept to a minimum with Sharon Jones and Ron Sexsmith; a smart and credible move, and the swing formula is rarely diluted, in spite of Bublé's attempt to add his own unique charm. Why expect anything else from a singer who continues to show everyone else how it is done?

Crazy Love gets off to an unsteady and explosive start before settling down for a fantastic and thoroughly enjoyable second half. The first couple of songs sound like they are taken from a bad Bond theme tribute album. The dramatic take on Cry Me a River is way too over the top at times and All Of Me goes from intimate bar room to noisy orchestra in a way that would make Dean Martin cringe. Even Georgia On My Mind features a few bars of Monty Norman's classic theme within the more sedate arrangement. The title track is given a more respectful and soulful treatment with sweet backing vocals and cool guitar. It does Van's original justice. But things are still a bit shaky with the first of the two self-penned songs, Haven't Met You Yet. It is ominous perky-pop and features the oddest trumpet solo. And so ends the messy first half.

Thankfully, Crazy Love shows why Bublé is both relevant and unique. All I Do Is Dream Of You is an classic old-school big band number that adds elements of Martin, Ella Fitzgerald and Perry Como. The second original song Hold On is instantly brilliant and filled with huge epic strings. The first real surprise is Heartache Tonight, a take on the Eagles 70's rock anthem given the full brass treatment. It works superbly. Dean is back for You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Love You and is more proper swing (Robbie, Jamie and Leon take note) and a perfect rendition. Ok it does nothing particularly new but it is polished and the vocal timing is exquisite. Baby (You've Got What It Takes) with Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings moves unsteadily into dangerous 60's R&B only to emerge unscathed.

Into the final trio, At This Moment is an odd choice and fairly anonymous. Bublé lets his voice get away from him. But the cheesy tones of Stardust, although nowhere near as good as the late, great Mel Tormé, is another solid move away from 'typical' copycat covers. The Ron Sexsmith duet and new version of Whatever It Takes is a sublime closer and completes a fine fourth collection from a musician who is truly untouchable. It's just a shame that Crazy Love doesn't start with the poise and control shown in the second half.

With only two original songs on the album (and both are co-written) it would be easy to dismiss Crazy Love as just another collection of the usual fare repackaged conveniently for the Christmas market. This is the sort of thing you would expect from fading musicians lacking inspiration, or reality TV stars trying to market a quick debut or salvage a thin career when their management has 'moved on to this year's winner'. All cynicism put aside for a moment, Bublé is none of these things. He has a genuine passion for breathing new life into timeless classics and is keeping them alive for generations to come. And he adds personality, depth and quality to everything he does.

-- CS (for The Music Magazine)

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