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RELATED ARTISTS V
I  II  III  IV  V

NOTE: Here's where we begin to drive toward the 21st Century, with artists who grabbed onto Sinatra's coat-tails and hung on for dear life.  Some of these artists knew the Chairman of the Board, while others learned of him through his music and became converts to the cause of the Great American Songbook, with varying degrees of success.  From brash upstarts to ardent devotees, you'll find who's who in carrying the torch in these latter days.


Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme': We Got Us/Steve & Eydie Sing the Golden Hits Jasmine Music 600 [CD];
Released August 6, 1996

 

1. We Got Us
2. Side by Side
3. No Two People
4. Darn It, Baby, That's Love
5. Together (Wherever We Go)
6. Flattery
7. This Could Be the Start of Something Big
8. I Remember It Well
9. Baby, It's Cold Outside
10. Two Lost Souls
11. Harmony
12. Cheek to Cheek
13. I've Heard That Song Before
14. I'll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time
15. Green Eyes
16. I Hear a Rhapsody
17. And the Angels Sing
18. Who Wouldn't Love You?
19. Bei Mir Bist Du Schön
20. Marie
21. I Don't Want to Walk Without You
22. (I've Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo
23. White Christmas
24. Sentimental Journey

REVIEW:  
Before they devolved into lounge-lizard heaven (and there is a line that must be crossed), Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme' were the Donny and Marie of pop music in the 1950s.  And while not generally associated with jazz stylings, these two albums from the late fifties are given an extra punch by arranger Don Costa, who would later mix it up with Sinatra.  Eydie Gorme' has a bright, brassy voice here, something which Doris Day would commandeer during the 1960s, while Steve Lawrence has an eminently cheerful baritone which mixes perfectly with Gorme's chipper stylings.  It's all so CUTE as they bounce off each other in prototypical duets like "No Two People," "We Got Us," "Side By Side" and "Together (Wherever We Go)" that you may need to lay off the ding-dongs and check your doctor for diabetes warnings; but their pairing is undeniably winning, and breathes a warm cuddliness which reeled me right in.  Life was all springtime and flowers when these two were singing, and all was right with the world.  Don Costa's arrangments are penny-bright, with tempos which are right in the pocket, brassy when the tempos begin to swing, and filled with technicolor strings on softer sentiments.  Steve Lawrence has a real talent to mimic Sinatra's line readings, with a lazy ease to his singing which is as precise as a stopwatch, and Eydie is with him note for note, sliding sinuously on "I'll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time" while Steve waxes rhapsodic on 'Green Eyes."  The album occasionally sinks into goofiness, as on the barely tolerable "Harmony" or the torpid romaticism of "I Hear a Rhapsody."  But overall this is an extremely genial pair of albums, filled with an innately cheery nature which most pop fans will count as a happy find. 
Check out more albums from this pairsome as well - lots of hidden gems.


Bobby Darin: Swingin' The Standards
Varese Sarabande 6004 [CD];
Released May 11, 1999

 

1. Don't Rain on My Parade
2. Breaking Point
3. It's Today
4. After You've Gone
5. Shadow of Your Smile
6. Other Half of Me
7. It's Only a Paper Moon
8. Talk to the Animals
9. I Believe in You
10. Lover, Come Back to Me
11. Liza (All the Clouds'll Roll Away)
12. Silver Dollar
13. Everybody Has the Right to Be Wrong
14. Try to Remember
15. I Will Wait for You
16. After Today
17. Cute
18. Mame

REVIEW:  Of all the people who might be fingered as sons of Sinatra (in the musical sense), few would've guessed that Bobby Darin, teen idol and singer of such pop singles "Splish Splash" and "Dream Lover" would become an heir to the Rat Pack's finger-snapping cadre.  But Darin's chameleonistic tendencies surprised many - and strangely, for all his shufflings between genres (which included folk, rock, pop, swing and country), it's for his Sinatra-leanings that he's most celebrated today.  This album, a collection of cuts from various projects, is an ideal way to hear how adept Darin was as putting on a tuxedo and stepping in front of a swing band.  He has a true talent for bending notes and hitting hard with syncopation which other wanna-be's would ache to achieve.  Listen to the intense urgency of "Breaking Point," with it's harsh, insistent rhythms, or the lounge-lizard emerge into the spotlight for "Shadow of Your Smile," and you'll be impressed.  The album has a nice selection of both uptempo and ballad numbers, but throughout each track, there is a keen sense of style - this isn't just a suit that Darin's putting on for the public, he's very knowing about these performances; he's got the knack to push these numbers out across the spotlights which is much more than just a pose - he's that good, and to hear him on "I Believe In You" (taken from the Broadway show How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying) or the frenetic jazz of "Lover Come Back To Me" is to hear an artist at the height of his powers.  Not that every number here works: the cover of "If I Could  Talk To The Animals" does little to raise it above the level of triteness, and "Liza" sounds too chewed up by Darin's excessive mannerisms to be taken seriously.  But he almost channels Frank on "Try to Remember" and throughout he's totally committed and totally convincing, especially on my favorite track here, a bossa-nova take on "I Will Wait for You" which is excellent.  If you like this, (which I think you will),
check out more of his well-represented discography.

Harry Connick Jr.: We Are In Love
Sony Records 46146 [CD];
Released June 15, 1990

 
1. We Are In Love
2. Only 'Cause I Don't Have You
3. Recipe For Love
4. Drifting 
5. Forever, For Now
6. A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square 
7. Heavenly
8. Just A Boy
9. I've Got A Great Idea
10. I'll Dream Of You Again
11. It's Alright With Me
12. Buried In Blue

REVIEW:  Herladed in the early 1990s as the second coming of Frank Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr. was seen as something of a child prodigy in his early years, showing a remarkable ability at jazz piano stylings, and then later revealing a distinctively flavored singing voice which was often compared to Frank.  But whereas Frank moved from strength to strength, Connick has struggled to remain revelant, showing flashes of brilliance on one album, only to fizzle out on another.  Connick has moved between New Orleans funk, jazz, pop and big band on all his albums, but it's on this one which he adheres most closely to Sinatra's model, blending time-worn classics with new compositions which sound as if they could have been pulled from Cole Porter's songbook.  Recorded when Connick was just 22 years old, this is a smart album, alternating between big-band arrangements and smoke-filled room small combos, the album has a knowing wink in each of the songs, which never quite allows the listener to believe that he's listening to something from the 1940s.  The bounce and bam of "Recipe for Love" or the honey-hued lullabye of "Drifting" are all hampered a bit by Connick's voice (his biggest liability), which is both too nasal and too affected with a "New Yawk" accent to be completely winning.  But still, it's hard not to be charmed by such street-corner doo-wop exercises as "Heavenly" or be swept up in the Ravel-flavored "Just A Boy," or enjoy the slow shuffle of "I've Got A Great Idea" or groove to the modern scat arrangements of "It's Alright With Me."  But I have a hard time giving my whole heart to Connick; the music all feels a bit "put on" and affected, rather than a true soul-deep love of the genre he's steeped himself in.  Other good choices from this artist include: When My Heart Finds Christmas and Blue Light Red Light.


Michael Buble: It's Time
Warner Brothers/Reprise 48946 [CD];
Released February 8, 2005

 
1. Feeling Good
2. A Foggy Day (In London Town)
3. You Don't Know Me 
4. Quando, Quando, Quando - duet featuring Nelly Furtado
5. Home
6. Can't Buy Me Love
7. The More I See You
8. Save the Last Dance For Me
9. Try A Little Tenderness
10. How Sweet It Is
11. Song For You - featuring Chris Botti
12. I've Got You Under My Skin
13. You And I

REVIEW:  The most promising artist of the early 21st Century might very well be Michael Buble (pronounced boo-BLAY), whose self-declared affection for the music of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Elvis Presley has created an intriguing blend of the three's styles; a hybrid that, to me, is far more grounded than Harry Connick Jr's similar breakout in the early 90s.  On It's Time, Buble's sophmore platter, the artist sounds ever more sure of himself as a performer, no doubt helped by the touring and promotion of his
debut album, and the songs and arrangements, while similar to his previous album, are here even slicker and more assured.  Recording on Sinatra's old label Reprise, the album blasts out of its gate with the down and dirty "Feelin Good" which takes a hefty slab of New Orleans blues and ties it with a confident vocal.  The album has more than a few nods to Frank, especially on the ultra-swingers "In Foggy London Town" and the Riddle-take off "I've Got You Under My Skin," which, if anything, is a little too close to Frank's version for its own good.  But it's not where Buble apes Frank where he succeeds; it's in striking out his own territory, as on the silky duet "Quando Quando Quando" or even on the straight-ahead pop terrain of "Home."   He's at his most revelatory on "Can't Buy Me Love" which takes the Beatles' chestnut and swings it hard; or the buzz-saw bass that riffs on "The More I See You."  Buble has the ability to sound comfortable on each song, whether it's the carribean swirl of "Save The Last Dance For Me" and the be-bop arrangement of "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" - this is a confident, mature platter, and Mr. Buble shows himself to be a formidable song-stylist who has the potential to go far, he lacks only the mature world-weariness that comes with age, but for a beginner, this album is startlingly fun and assured.  A first pick for Sinatra contender of the decade.  Also, check out his other albums , all of which show him to be growing and maturing as an artist.


Peter Cincotti: Are You The One? 
Concord Records [CD];
Released March 11, 2003

 

1. I Changed The Rules
2. Comes Love
3. Are You The One?
4. Sway
5. Miss Brown
6. Lovers, Secrets, Lies
7. Fool On the Hill/Nature Boy=20
8. Ain't Misbehavin'
9. Come Live Your Life With Me
10. Spinning Wheel
11. You Stepped Out of A Dream
12. Rainbow Connection

REVIEW:  Of the slew of hot young cabaret singers which have been popping up in the early part of the 21st Century, Peter Cincotti is the underdog; a nineteen-year-old sophmore at Columbia University, his heavily-influenced jazz stylings, piano playing, and limited vocals seem to be the second coming of Harry Connick Jr.  But on this, his debut disc, the minimilist approach to the arrangements (consisting mostly of bass, drums, and piano) and his thin, raspy voice, which reminds me most of a young Tony Bennett (without the operatic power Bennett posesses), sound anemic compared to more blatantly commercial outings by his peers.  The album showcases both his piano playing (most prominently on the skittish, dispeptic cover of "Spinning Wheel") and his voice, which seems to be an afterthought.  The songs all have a distinct east-coast flavor, and from beginning to end, the album has a unity of sound and style which unfortunately ends up feeling flat.  There are times this approach works well, as on the bleak, wintery "Come Live Your Life With Me," which does exactly what it's supposed to do: turn what should be a cheery sentiment upside down, creating depth and meaning in what otherwise would be a one-note recitation of love; or on the hiccuping lead-off track "I Changed The Rules" which sounds like something Frank could have chewed on with glee.  But other tracks fall far short, due mostly to clunky lyrics which stand out like the proverbial sore thumb (it can't help that he wrote a couple of songs with his mother) - most painfully on "Sway" which lurches from ill-thought rhyme to ill-thought rhyme like a drunken sailor.  My hope for Cincotti is that he'll find a producer who'll wean him away from his bare-bones charts and lead him to a respectable voice teacher to gather some power and flexibility into his vocal instrument.


Tony DeSare: Want You
Telarc 83620 [CD];
Released May 24, 2005

  

1. Baby, Dream Your Dream 
2. Just In Time 
3. Want You 
4. Two For The Road 
5. I Wish You Love 
6. How I Will Say I Love You 
7. Another Chance For My Heart 
8. We've Got A World That Swings 
9. Something's Gotta Give 
10. (I'd Have It All) If I Had Drew - (from "My Date With Drew") 
11. Marry Me 
12. Movin' On 
13. Five Foot Two

REVIEW:  You've heard the saying, "it never rains, but it pours"?  Well, according to the forecast, apparently the American public is due for continuing showers of young jazz vocalists whose colors all hue to the Sinatra side of town.  Tony DeSare is more of a jazz baby than some of the others, and his voice, while unpolished, has a whispery quality that hearkens to Mel Torme's, but DeSare is no mere vocalist - he's also a composer and accomplished pianist, a la' Nat King Cole, albeit an Italian one.  The arrangements on this national debut disc are spare, usually with just Tony and his piano, or occasionally with a tasteful jazz trio backing him up, which is just as well, as DeSare's voice doesn't contain much power - he's far better at creating a smoky barroom flavor, or scatting both vocally and instrumentally in deft jams.  Still, there are moments when he's got Frank in his veins, such as the nice 'n easy lead off track "Baby, Dream Your Dream," and I could easily hear Frank tackle the original track "Want You" with relish.  He sounds most like Torme, or a wounded Sinatra, on the dark blue "Two For The Road" which sounds like it could be tailor made for Frank (how I would have loved to hear Frank's take on these same songs - they're that good.)  Occasionally DeSare gets away from jazz and blues, and takes on straight pop ballads, as on "How Will I Say I Love You" and "If I Had Drew," but even these are low-key and piano-driven, and songs like "We've Got A World That Swings" and "I Wish You Love" are top-notch.  The album only sags a bit with the more questionable covers: "Something's Gotta Give" and "Just In Time" are more novelty numbers than great choices from America's Songbook, and while they're capably performed, the effect is more average than eye-opening.  Tony DeSare is an artist worth keeping an eye on, and I suspect that if he continues in this genre, his voice will strengthen, and his compositions will only grow more assured. 


Matt Dusk: Two Shots
Decca Records 260002 [CD];
Released June 15, 2004


 

1. Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad
2. Miracle
3. Cold as Ice
4. Lonely Road
5. Theme From Loaded Gun
6. Don't Go Looking
7. Fly Me to the Moon
8. Please Please Me [Ash Howes Mix]
9. Precious Years
10. Always
11. Every Mother's Son
12. Five
13. Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad [Hot Nugget Remix] [*]

REVIEW:  Of all the hot young studs who are aching to jump on the Buble bandwagon, fellow Canadian Matt Dusk easily has the best exposure, due to his recurring appearances on the network television series Casino.  I mean, having national media exposure on a weekly basis didn't hurt The Monkees, did it?  Of course whenever you have a stubble-chinned adonis making a record album, the thought immediately appears: "should be modelling underwear, not singing" - but happily, Mr. Dusk has the courage of his convictions and a modicum of talent in the vocal department, and he appears highly at ease in singing this kind of smoky bar-room material.  I also like that much of the material is original, rather than simply covers - I mean, the Great American Songbook is great, but can't we produce any more?  Dusk impressively co-authors two of the songs here: "Always" and "Five," and the album has a nicely modern sensibility in it's arrangements which eschew the "Big Band" approach, but unfortunately use too much synthesizer, which has the effect of dating the sound - in a couple of years, (if not months) this production will reek of the early 2000s.  Some of the songs are very fine, such as "Lonely Road" and the wonderfully titled "Two Shots of Happy (One of Sad)" - I also get a kick out of the James Bond vibe found on "Theme From Loaded Gun."  The weakest links in the entire album stems from the hip-hop vibe which intrudes on some arrangements, especially the mis-thought "Fly Me To The Moon" and from Dusk's voice, which sounds too reedy and flat - it lacks the raw punch of emotion which these songs need to really sell them.  Still, there is much of interest here, and his soap-opera good looks and romantic bent will appeal to his prodominently female fan base.


John Stevens: Red

Maverick 48937 [CD];
Released June 28, 2005
 

 

1. Come Fly With Me
2. My Blue Heaven
3. Someone to Watch Over Me
4. Here, There and Everywhere
5. All of Me
6. This Love
7. I Only Have Eyes for You
8. Let's Fall in Love - Erika Christensen
9. It Had to Be You
10. Shadow of Your Smile
11. Don't Get Around Much Anymore

REVIEW:  John Stevens is a spawn of that vilifiable phenomenon American Idol, which gave him the national exposure he needed to be signed to Madonna's Maverick label and put out this platter.  But whereas most of the fodder who appear on TV are shrieking divas, John Stevens is a child of Sinatra and Co., which made him immediately anachronistic on Idol, but conversely made him a darling of mothers everywhere, who took to his fresh-faced young redhead and his old-school approach to music.  This album, titled Red (after his hair color) is a fantastic debut - richly melodic, sung with great sensitivity, (depsite his 17 years of age), and the songs, consisting entirely of covers, is remarkably savvy in its selection.  John Stevens has a lovely baritone voice, a butterscotch swirl of Mel Torme and Steve Lawrence, and despite his youth, his phrasing is very easy and smooth.  He struggles most in his lower register, lacking power, which will come in time, as on "Come Fly With Me."  The arrangments, by Bob Mann are mostly unobtrusive to the point of forgetfulness; John will need someone more talented in this area to make his songs really shine; Sinatra always chose the best arrangers for himself, knowing their power to make or break a song, Stevens needs to gather the same for himself.  But the album is filled with lovely moments, from the surprisingly successful re-molding of The Beatles' "Here There And Everywhere" into a solo ballad, to the inclusion of Maroon 5's "This Love" - this album really doesn't make a bad step in it's choice, although having Erika Christensen duet with John brings nothing to "Let's Fall In Love", since her voice is so thin and undistinguished as to bring the number down a notch.  I'm afraid that so promising a talent will be lost without some punchier, more imaginative charts to break it into the crossover market, but for now, this is an excellent debut - here's hoping that Red will be the start of a long and prosperous career. 


Peter Grant: New Vintage
Globe Records/Universal Music 9877257 [CD]; 
Released May 25, 2006

    1. Joanna
2. Walk Away
3. Best Is Yet To Come
4. Windmills Of Your Mind
5. Spooky
6. Fool On The Hill
7. Girl From Ipanema
8. We've Only Just Begun
9. I Saw Her Standing There
10. More I See You
11. You're The First, The Last, My Everything
12. Didn't We
13. On Days Like These
14. All The Way

REVIEW:  Out of Great Britain comes the newest crooner who has decided to take his cue from Sinatra and Co.  Peter Grant has both the singing chops and the charisma to pull off the hat trick of sounding, well, if not exactly Frank Sinatra, then a really good imitation of Matt Munro.  According to Peter's website, he's been singing in bars since the age of 13, and in the five years since, has developed a canny repartee with old-school swing and smoky ballads.  His debut album, New Vintage, is a smart mix of new and old, but all of it is arranged in classy homages to the sound of the 1950s with small flourishes of horns and strings tied sweetly together with discreet modern touches to bring the entire package into the 21st Century.  I can easily imagine Frank's voice resting comfortably within these grooves, which manage to capture not just the flavor, but something of the essence of those times as well.  Grant's voice is a powerfully honeyed baritone, which can belt out the high notes of "You're The First, The Last, My Everything" or stir echoes of dim-lit saloons on "The Windmills Of My Mind."  From beginning to end this album manages to hit spot on the tone of timeless reverence for fine songcraft, and even though the songs are from decades apart (everything from The Beatles and Jobim to The Carpenters and more), each song feels right at home with Peter's rich vocals pinning them down.  This is powerful stuff.  Although I felt some trepidation after seeing songs like "Spooky" and "I Saw Her Standing There" on the tracklist, but no worries - even these seeming anachronistic songs get cut into the whole cloth of the production, and sound renewed.  Peter could easily be Britain's answer to Michael Buble, and if his debut is any indication, the best is yet to come.  Available only as a British import, this artist is nevertheless worth checking out.



Frank Sinatra Jr.:  That Face
Rhino/WEA 70017 [CD];
Released June 6, 2006


    
1. That Face
2. (I'm Afraid) The Masquerade Is Over   
3. Feeling Good
4. I Was A Fool (To Let You Go)
5. Spice
6. Girl Talk -- Duet With Steve Tyrell
7. Cry Me A River
8. What A Difference A Day Made
9. You'll Never Know
10. Softly As In a Morning Sunrise
11. Trouble With Hello Is Goodbye
12. Walking Happy
13. The People That You Never Get To Love

REVIEW:  Although Frank Jr. has been getting good reviews for this, his first album in many years, to my ears, it's something of a moot point.  Unlike sister Nancy, Frank Sinatra Jr. never really had a career that was far divorced from his father's; and on That Face!, Junior completes the transition from hanging onto the coattails of his dad into a full-fledged tribute artist, with the songs, charts, and attitude ripped right out of the lounge-lizard mould of the 1960s.  He even looks like Frank Sr. on the cover, and it's not until you give the album a good hard listen that you hear that this Sinatra is only an echo, not the real deal.  But that's not to say that this album is embarrassing, or devoid of nice moments; Frank Jr. has developed a nice easy phrasing to his delivery which, if not a match for his father's, is at least as accomplished as any other of the numbers of similar artists.  But vocally, Frank is struggling at bit.  Unlike his father, whose vocals seemed to deepen and gain more power as he got older, Sinatra Jr. sounds thinner, and at 62, the flexibility and range of his voice is starting to ebb.  On some of the songs, like "Feeling Good" his straining to hit the high notes is shrill and painful, and later, on "Spice" he goes noticably out of tune on one of the decending lines.  On the smarmy "Girl Talk" - a duet with another Sinatra wanna-be, Steve Tyrell - the two decend into the roles of leering old men, but sugared with a chummy camraderie that feels stale.  The charts are brassy and fine, with a swell intimacy that fits Frank's vocals to a "t", but after listening to this album, with its pale, somewhat bloodless singing, I wanted to hear the depth of pathos and pain that Sinatra Sr. could bring to a song.  Older fans may enjoy this tangible link to the original Frank, but for my tastes, That Face! feels a bit like leftovers.


Russell Watson: The Voice Russell Watson - That's Life
Univsersal Classics 4758517
[CD]; 
Released March 8, 2007
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1. That's Life
2. Strangers in the Night
3. When I Fall in Love
4. You Don't Know Me
5. You Make Me Feel So Young
6. Born Free
7. I Left My Heart in San Francisco
8. Summer Wind
9. Let There Be Love
10. Smile
11. It Was a Very Good Year
12. To All the Girls I've Loved Before

REVIEW:  Yet another tribute - or perhaps 'homage' artist from the other side of the pond, Russell Watson' s debut ranges more widely than some other Sinatra wanna-be's, dipping his toes into Tony Bennett's catalog, as well as Julio Iglesias.  But the bulk of the album is taken from Frank's catalog, and if you can get over the appalling use of Frank's Capitol-era signature "The Voice" on the album's front, you may find some things here to enjoy.  Russell's phrasing is certainly more accomplished than some other debuts, something which can be attributed to his having a few more years under his belt than his contemporaries.  But it still feels way too early for him to be tackling an anthem like "That's Life" or even "Strangers In The Night" - both of which call for far more life-experience than Mr. Watson can claim to have earned.  But his take on "When I Fall In Love" is marvellous, with immaculate phrasing, and a soft burr brought to his voice that fits the smoky mood of the song perfectly.  This smoothness continues on "You Don't Know Me" - and it's clear that despite his shortcomings on the big, declarative songs that pepper the album, Russell clearly has the chops to sell a romantic ballad with more than the usual dose of youthful earnestness.  But his acquittal on these songs, only brings out his shortcomings on other songs - when he tries to go 'older' such as on "You Make Me Feel So Young" - well, he IS young, so it makes the song a tad ridiculous - plus, Russell's voice tends to spread a bit on the swingers, with a noticeable vibrato and British accent jarring to my ears.  Still, he swings well, unlike other youthful singers, he's able to inject a bit of depth into the songs.  Since I wasn't familiar with him before this album, I was surprised to learn that Mr. Watson is a classicly trained singer, whose previous albums are different animals entirely - but having heard him dip his toe into the Great American Songbook, I look forward to a return visit.  But please, let the world-weary songs keep for another decade, at least, before tackling them again.

Ray Quinn: Ray Quinn
BMG International
88697068192 [CD]; 
Released March 15, 2007
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Amazon.co.uk: Ray Quinn
1. Ain't That a Kick in the Head
2. Fly Me to the Moon
3. My Way
4. That's Life
5. Mack the Knife
6. Smile
7. Way You Look Tonight
8. Summer Wind
9. What a Wonderful World
10. Mr. Bojangles
11. New York, New York

REVIEW:  The British version of an American Idol winner - and signed by the same acid-tongued Simon Crowell - I expected both more - and less - than the second coming of Michael Buble'.  Unfortunately, Ray Quinn's debut is something notably less than other steller debuts.  Despite his self-proclaimed affinity for all things Rat Pack, this album, which is a carbon-copied blueprint of Frank's Reprise-era recordings, shows all the immaturity and weightless heft that Quinn can muster.  Don't get me wrong - he's got a fine tenor voice, light and sincere, but the big problem with the album is the songs he's chosen to cover - with his featherweight voice, he'd have been wise to lift songs from early in Frank's career; the soothing ballads and swing-free elements found in the Columbia Years catalog. Instead, Quinn has loaded his debut with songs from a world-weary later-years Sinatra that the singer simply can't deliver on.  He sounds faintly ludicrous singing jaded anthems such as "My Way", "That's Life" and "Ain't That A Kick in the Head" with all the gravitas of a pious choir boy.  And despite his affection for swing music, he hasn't developed the hard, cynical touch it takes to swing hard on tracks like "Fly Me To The Moon" and "Mack The Knife" - he, like Frank, needed several more years of seasoning and heartbreak before he is able to inject these songs with the hard-biting experience they require to be transformed into something more than youthful pablum.  He does somewhat better on an interior trio: "Smile," "The Way You Look Tonight" and "Summer Wind" are all more attuned to his relative youth, but even on these songs, he sounds more like a boy-band crooner than a romantic swain.  The songs are stripped of passion, which Frank brought to his songs with a capitol "P" and the listener is left with the cold skimmings of what should've been rich cream, considering the craft of the songs and the deft arrangments we're given.  In short, Quinn may have won popular acclaim, but he's clearly out of his depth.



Peter Grant: Traditional
Globe Records/Universal
[CD];
Released September 17, 2007
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Traditional
Amazon.co.uk: Traditional
1. Traditional
2. Let the Good Times Roll.
3. That's Life
4. Until You Come Back To Me.
5. On The Beach
6. You're Worth it
7. This Guy's In Love
8. You Don't Know
9. On and On
10. Never Too Far Away From A Song
11. Edge Of Blue
12. September Song
13. Happy Together
14. Traditional - Chuck Norman Remix (Bonus Track)

REVIEW:  I loved Peter Grant's first album - it was a extraordinarily confident and polished debut for the very young singer, who sounded as if he carried an old soul inside him.  On his sophomore effort, Traditional, his voice is still a powerhouse combine of expressiveness and control, but he's veered away from songbook classics into hybrid neo-jazz, with hints of everything from Spanish rhythms to Elvis Presley-style southern gospel thrown into the mix, and to be honest, it doesn't sound nearly as effortless and compelling as his debut.  The album starts off very strongly, with a rough-and-ready attitude that might have been ripped off from Sinatra's Ring-a-Ding-Ding album; (and don't be confused, the "That's Life" that's included here isn't Frank's version, it's an entirely new song, with a vocal riff that's instantly memorable and with great interplay between the singer and the band).  But the album begins to veer off course right about the same time that the cover versions of other artists' songs appear.  Burt Bacharach's "This Guy's In Love" misses the trembling insecurity of the original entirely, substituting the aching earnestness with a smarmy lounge-lizard croon that is vocally smart, but emotionally empty.  And the inclusion of The Turtles' "Happy Together" sounds near to campiness with his throaty baritone trying to scale the shiny-pop of this hit single.  But that's not even the worst here - some brilliant exec thought it might be a good idea to include the 70s staple "On and On" with a big-band swing arrangement, and the results are an odd hybrid of two worlds that are circling in different orbits.  There are many good moments here; "September Song" is gorgeous - simple and clean, as is the ultra-romantic "On The Beach" which is a perfect mood-setter.  And "Never Too Far Away From A Song" is classic, even referencing Frank in the lyrics.  And the opening trio of songs are surprising and different - melding old-school sounds with neat modern touches that successfully update the sound into the new century; but the inclusion of too many uncomfortably-fitting cover songs make Peter's second outing a mixed bag.  Still worth checking out - if anything, his talent proves that despite missteps, Peter is still one of the best new young artists out there.

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