Michael Bolton gets assistance from his actress girlfriend Nicollette Sheridan on his upcoming album, "Bolton Swings Sinatra." Due May 23 via Passion Music Co./Concord, the set features Sheridan's vocals on Sinatra's 1963 hit "The Second Time Around." Elsewhere, Bolton takes on Sinatra-popularized tunes like "That's Life," "My Funny Valentine," "Fly Me to the Moon," "New York, New York" and "Night and Day." The project was engineered by longtime Sinatra collaborator Al Schmitt. Sinatra sang with such power and such vulnerability," Bolton says. "He was a great storyteller. I just tried to tell some of these stories in my own way.
Rod Stewart greased the wheels, and now everybody's lining up for a ride. Bolton Swings Sinatra,
like Barry Manilow's The Greatest Songs of the Fifties
before it, is an obvious bid to snare some of the spotlight Stewart's expertly executed Great American Songbook
series generated. A recap for those who have yet to crack the time capsule: The mood of these discs is forcibly retro (nobody shows up for a CD cover shoot without a suit jacket), the pulse romantic. So if the big-belting Bolton is not exactly a natural fit--here's an artist you wouldn't go out of your way to call suave, a major prerequisite for marching along in this recycled hit parade--he's not wholly out of his element, either. Bolton can
swing Sinatra, sort of. Classics like "Fly Me To the Moon," "Summer Wind," and "I've Got You Under my Skin" sneak up on the listener and reveal a quiet reverance for the departed chairman of the board; only on "My Funny Valentine" does Bolton-esque over-singing threaten to spoil the brew. "The Second Time Around," a duet with Nicollette Sheridan, also doesn't overreach, landing on the ears like an open love letter. And the arrangements work consistently. Still, there are those who will roll their eyes and call this project too ambitious, too cheeky, and they may have a point. What next, they might reasonably ask: Richard Marx Rocks Elvis
? Chris Botti Scales the Brill Building
? --Tammy La Gorce