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Album review: Michael Bublé's 'Crazy Love'

October 14, 2009 |  6:17 pm
BUBLE_240 In the first three paragraphs of a release introducing Grammy-winning vocalist Michael Bublé's new album, he is mentioned in the same sentence as a choirboy, Elvis and Louis Armstrong. Curious company, but needless to say when an artist sells in the neighborhood of 20 million CDs worldwide, there can be a sense of becoming, from a musical perspective anyway, something akin to all things to all people.

And though it takes a bit of straining to hear all of the above references on the Canadian crooner's latest collection, its mix of brassy standards and tastefully done originals from the world of jazz and pop surely will give those familiar with Bublé's work pretty much exactly what they want.

Which, much like Bublé's spiritual sibling Harry Connick Jr., translates to an assortment of sweeping and tradition-minded love songs, delivered with an assured -- if at times less than understated -- hand.

Things get off to a rocky start with a bombastic take on "Cry Me a River" that opens the record with all the dramatic subtlety of John Barry scoring a James Bond film. Bublé's faithful if vanilla renderings of Van Morrison's "Crazy Love" and the Eagles' "Heartache Tonight" aren't likely to make anyone forget the originals.

But underneath the record's proto-classic sheen, there are some universal pleasures. Soul firecracker Sharon Jones coaxes Bublé's Sinatra-esque pipes into a soulful purr on the duet "Baby (You've Got What It Takes)," and a collaboration with singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith called "Whatever It Takes" recalls the breezy, string-accented balladry of 1970s AM radio gold. Elsewhere, the bouncy, Bob Rock-produced single "Haven't Met You Yet" shows Bublé is entirely comfortable with adult contemporary pop.

The album's polished, middle-of-the-road approach isn't exactly for everyone, but its agreeable heart doesn't hit any sour notes, either.

-- Chris Barton

Michael Bublé
"Crazy Love"
Two stars (Out of four)