Soldier of Love, the new album from pop singer Sade, is perfect. Soft, soothing melodies fill this 10-song collection, available from Sony Music, with strings, horns, piano, and, of course, Sade’s clear vocals, which sound slightly more weathered than when she began her impeccable career during the 1980s. With the driving, irresistible title track, which grows on you, as the sole departure from her signature style, and a minor divergence at that, everything here is in order. Less sultry than her smash, Love Deluxe, but with more nuances, too, Soldier of Love is another meticulous, accessible recording from artist Sade Adu (who co-wrote the album). Sade’s unhurried delivery and gentle rhythm wraps around a tune every time. Dim the lights, loosen up, and enjoy.
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Susan Boyle’s new album, I Dreamed a Dream, is just right; not overblown (thanks to producer Steve Mac) and happily focused on her vocal performance with an interesting selection of cover tunes ranging from the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses” to Madonna’s “You’ll See”, the weakest choice for re-recording. Her “Daydream Believer” is a fresh rendition and one of the best tracks but every song here, including “Cry Me a River,” which has been recorded too many times, is exceptional given the muck of today’s popular music. Miss Boyle, who broke out with a memorable appearance on British television and became a huge hit in America thanks to YouTube, sticks to her craft. Among the 12 tunes: the abridged title track from the musical Les Miserables, which she famously performed on TV, “Amazing Grace”, “Silent Night”, “How Great Thou Art”, “Proud” and a rousing original song written for the songstress, “Who I Was Born to Be”. Thankfully, there are no surprises and every entry is an understated display of her talent. I Dreamed a Dream is a wonderful new work of fine, previously released pop music. The CD includes her notes on why she chose to record each song.
The 13 songs on Michael Buble’s latest album, Crazy Love, do not match let alone exceed the quality of his previous efforts. The majority of tunes, including the title track’s cover of Van Morrison’s original, are produced by David Foster. That doesn’t appear to be the problem. No single song is a disaster among this collection of ballads and uptempo numbers, yet the overall approach is unfocused and slightly manic. Buble doesn’t play to his strengths and his bombastic version of “Cry Me a River” is a mistake. On an album in which one of the most memorable tunes is a remake of a mid-range rocker by the Eagles, “Heartache Tonight,” you know it’s not Buble’s finest moment.
Available through iTunes and on compact disc (CD), I Look to You, which I reviewed on CD, is neither terrible nor terrific and it is definitely worth a listen. The troubled singer’s previous work includes a multitude of inspirational songs, such as “The Greatest Love of All” (her bestselling cover of the song from the biographical film, The Greatest, about boxer Muhammad Ali) and other megahits. This 11-song collection, with mid-range ballads, light rhythm and blues and a softer, less manic vocal style, is a realistic start. She sounds like a damaged pop star who is learning to crawl all over again. I am cheering for her success.
Welcome back, Whitney.
Tribute Film Classics (TFC)—composed of John Morgan, Anna Bonn, and William Stromberg—is proof that not everyone in Tinseltown chooses to ‘go Hollywood’. These diligent musicians recently released another exquisite recording, the complete Erich Wolfgang Korngold score to the 1937 Errol Flynn classic adaptation of the 1882 Mark Twain novel, The Prince and the Pauper (available from this vendor).
Here’s what I wrote in an online column about TFC when they started up last year:
“One need not be a fan of the literary-themed pictures to enjoy the first two recordings … definitive compact disc editions of composer Bernard Herrmann’s scores for Mysterious Island and Fahrenheit 451. The CDs alone are impressive.
“Besides the score for Francois Truffaut’s 1966 adaptation of a novel about a totalitarian regime that bans books, Universal’s Fahrenheit 451, TFC offers the complete 61-track score for Mysterious Island. The release includes entire cue cuts, with notes by TFC principal William Stromberg, who conducted the Moscow Symphony Orchestra’s performance, and TFC co-founders Anna (Mrs. Stromberg) Bonn and John Morgan. Their approach is admirably meticulous.
“The 1961 adventure classic, Mysterious Island (Columbia Pictures), based on the novel by French writer Jules Verne, features two Union prisoners of war (POWs) who escape in a hot-air balloon during the American Civil War. They drift to the titular fantasy isle, encountering giant creatures, a volcano, an earthquake, a honeycomb and another famous Verne character, Captain Nemo (Mr. Verne’s Mysterious Island is a sequel to his 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea).
“Mr. Herrmann’s memorable music accentuates the movie’s thrills and the accompanying 32-page booklet is more intelligent and informative than most books, with time stamps and notes on chords, instruments and scenes. That doesn’t really do this labor of love, which must be seen to be appreciated, justice. The same caliber of top production values is present on TFC’s booklet for Mr. Herrmann’s complete Fahrenheit 451 score, which includes notes from author Ray Bradbury. Both CDs are a rare accomplishment in today’s movie-related products: they take motion pictures—their artists, scores and history—seriously.”
So does The Prince and the Pauper, recorded in Moscow, Russia. It is another outstanding accomplishment.
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