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A fun, retro - and sentimental - musical trip through the year!
on January 29, 2013
Emmy Rossum's second CD, Sentimental Journey, features 12 songs, each one an American classic, corresponding at least loosely to a month of the year. The songs date from the 1920s through mid-1960s. To capture an authentic early 20th century sound, the album was recorded with a live band in just three days, using vintage mics and mastered to tape.
And, it works. You could actually almost mistake this album for one raided from your grandma's collection of 78s and LPs; the production, arrangements and vocals are all very retro.
Rossum performs the songs with her own personal interpretations, though in most cases not straying too far from the way they were originally performed. The result is that they're renewed, giving us a really fresh, fun listening experience.
Rossum dreamily performs the title track, Sentimental Journey, kicking off an album full of romantic, nostalgic songs.
"The Object of My Affection" is sung in enthusiastic 1920s style, and its romanticism is perfect for Valentine's day. (The brief spoken-word exchange between Rossum & a male before the final verse is really cute, but maybe a little much.)
Another 1920s song, "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover," is an obvious - but fun - song in honor of St. Patrick's Day, even though it's actually a love song. It's performed in grand style, with a big chorus, sounding as if it came from a big Broadway production or old-style Hollywood musical.
April brings "These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)," which has been recorded by everyone from Billie Holiday to Frank Sinatra to Michael Buble. A sexy, swingy number featuring jazz piano and horns, Rossum sings it with sweet, wistful longing for an absent lover.
May's track, is a slow and romantic version of "I'll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time," which Rossum says her mother sang her to sleep with as a child, and was a big hit for The Andrews Sisters back in 1941.
Next up is "Summer Wind," a breezy remembrance of a fleeting summer romance. Rossum believably sings in in something approximating Rat Pack style, backed by a sophisticated, horn-filled band.
The upbeat "Many Tears Ago" written circa 1960, is a classic old-school country-style kiss-off song to a former lover.
Next up is a 1930s big-band song, "All I Do Is Dream Of You," an upbeat, happy love song which Rossum sings with conviction, backed by her talented band in high style.
September brings "Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out," which was written in 1923. It's been recorded by dozens of artists, including Bessie Smith, Janis Joplin, and Eric Clapton. Rossum energetically & believably delivers this sad tune of a formerly rich and popular woman, now penniless and alone.
The next track, "Autumn Leaves (Les Feuilles Mortes)" a slow, thoughtful, song about loss and memory, sung partially in the original French.
The mood rises again with The Bobby Darin song, "Things." It's a pop song written in 1962, but still has a late 1950s vibe. Like many of other songs on this album, it too is based upon memories, but there's nothing particularly deep about it - it's just a fun, joyful, upbeat look back at fun times spent together.
"Pretty Paper" on the surface seems to be about Christmas shopping, a close listen will reveal its real subject - a moving reflection on the homeless, who are lost and ignored amidst all the holiday glitter, hustle and bustle. The song opens with a gospel choir, but soon Rossum alone sings with lush orchestration. It sounds like a song you might have heard during the holidays on AM radio in the 1960s.
With the calendar year over, the album ends with a bonus track, "Keep Young and Beautiful," written in 1933 - and very, very old-timey. It tongue-in-cheekly advises, "Take care of all those charms / And you'll always be in someone's arms / Keep young and beautiful / If you want to be loved." Rossum sings it charmingly (even if its message is debatable).
TO SUM UP:
Sentimental Journey is an apt title for this album. It's a celebration of romance, of memory - and of the ever resonant tunes of the American songbook which are beloved and reinterpreted decade after decade. This type of music never goes out of style.
Since these songs were written over a 40-year span, this makes for a lot of different musical styles, but, happily, the choices made in selecting, producing - and Emmy Rossum's vocal talents - result in an album which hangs together really well. As the album finishes, you you feel as if you've just emerged from a trip to another place & time. It's musical escapism that's a pleasure to return to time and time again.
If you enjoy the classics of the 20th century, or are looking for a fresh take on them, Sentimental Journey deserves a place in your music collection.
(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this album in exchange for an honest review. Rest assured that the opinions here are my true feelings. I've happily listened to this CD several times already, and would gladly have spent my own money on it.)