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The Panties Were Flying In Boston,
This review is from: It's Time (Audio CD)
Apparently, a Boston cabbie sees and hears lots of things. One night, picking up a fare outside the Wang Theater, some women (of varied ages) got in and announced that they were wearing no longer wearing their panties. The reason? They had tossed them up on the stage adorned by Canadian sensation Michael Buble.
I heard this story on a recent trip to Boston, where I also heard this CD. Buble, I was told, is a dynamic and sexy singer, and he's got the everyman good looks and the stage moves (he's great with a microphone) to whip his public into a frenzy. His repetoire reflects a penchant for standards, old and new, and some experimentation. Buble is described sometimes as "middle of the road" and "smooth jazz," but I think he's more inventive and talented than those words imply to the jazz fan. This is a guy whose grandfather encouraged him to listen to vocalists of the 1940's and 1950's, and on his better songs this tradition is evident. His New York debut was in 2003 at the jazz-oriented Blue Note club, but he's been successful in more pop-oriented venues as well, notablyy in movies and TV.
Buble's choice (and most singers probably wish they had this problem) is whether to lean more towards jazz or pop, or to stray towards some flashy jazz/pop commercial fusion that fails his early promise. On his best songs his clear strong voice radiates superb phrasing and inventive dynamics--reigning in his vocal when you expect a punch (e.g., the dynamics on "You Don't Know Me By Now"). He gives a heartfelt performance on "A Foggy Day (in London Town)," and surprises with his rhythm and tone. Despite the frequent comparisons to Frank Sinatra and arranger Nelson Riddle, only "I've Got You Under My Skin" uses Riddle's score. It's a tribute, not an impersonation. He can sound like Sinatra at times, but it's not a slavish devotion. To me, the album's highlight is "The More I Want You," he tells the story with believable emotion, not just relying on that freshly groomed voice.
Yet, Buble clearly goes for some easy (some might say cheap) home runs, most notably on the undistinguished (except for the trumpet) "Song For You," and the crowd pleasing "Latin" rhythms injected into "Save the Last Dance For Me." There's also the obligatory duet, "Quando." The latter is pleasant enough, he and Furtado curve around each other's voices, but a listener won't develop a longterm romance with it. Similarly, on the opening "Feelin' Good," he does a faithful reproduction of a brassy Las Vegas crowd pleaser, but its appeal is limited--you appreciate that he knows the tricks, but he's not adding much new.
However, Buble's talent and musical savvy is just too deep, because he also hits you with interesting versions of "Can't Buy Me Love," playing with the tempo, and "How Sweet It Is," where his nicely messy voice mixes it up with some startlingly fresh blues guitar, harmonica, and organ. Although his one original number is somewhat disappointing, Buble's musicianship, originality, and appreciation of the total sound blow away most of his competition. He knows enough to let the instruments stand out, and his accompaniment is excellent, especially on bass and the trumpet and guitar solos. Overall, the youthful Mr. Buble has too much of a young man's voice; the timbre and shadings haven't had enough cooking time yet; however, this heartthrob has the potential for a longterm musical relationship, not just a one-night fling.