Monday, September 28, 2009

CD Review: Harry Connick Jr.'s Your Songs

I've been a longtime fan of jazz music and big band standards. The Rat Pack. Tony Bennett. Billie Holiday. Nat King Cole. Ella Fitzgerald. Louis Armstrong. I have them all stashed in my iPod. Just when I feel as though I should have been born 50 years ago, I remember Harry Connick, Jr.

Harry is my modern-day Sinatra. His smooth, velvety voice has enraptured me ever since I saw Sleepless in Seattle. He has a way with words, romanticizing every lyric. He makes it easy to daydream that I'm slow dancing with my husband and laying my head on his shoulder. But he also has a spirit about him, infusing a hint of New Orleans funk and dixie into his more upbeat tempos. Oh, and it helps that he's easy on the eyes. *swoon* Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks so. Harry has sold 25 million albums worldwide and has garnered Grammy, Tony and Emmy awards, as well as Oscar and Golden Globe nominations.

So, when I was invited to review Harry's new album, Your Songs, I was ecstatic.

Your Songs is a collection of classic songs requested by many of his fans. Accompanied by a full jazz big band and string orchestra, Harry covers 14 tunes from some of the greatest musicians in history.

Track Listing:

1. All the Way (Frank Sinatra)
2. Just the Way You Are (Billy Joel)
3. Can't Help Falling in Love With You (Elvis Presley)
4. And I Love Her (The Beatles)
5. (They Long to Be) Close to You (The Carpenters)
6. Besame Mucho
7. The Way You Look Tonight
8. First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (Roberta Flack)
9. Your Song (Elton John)
10. Some Enchanted Evening
11. And I Love You So (Don McLean)
12. Who Can I Turn To? (Tony Bennett)
13. Smile (Charlie Chaplin)
14. Mona Lisa (Nat King Cole)

I was familiar with many of the songs on the album so I was excited to hear Harry's interpretation. But honestly, after listening in its entirety, I was a little disappointed with the album. I knew it would be an easy-listening type of album but it nearly put me to sleep. I wanted to love it but it fell flat to me. It lacked the pizazz of his beloved past tracks, such as "Wink and a Smile", "It Had to Be You" or his holiday covers. The arrangements were rather boring; I kept waiting for a spark that never came. Instead, it felt like elevator music or the type of thing I'd hear from the piano guy in Nordstrom. Perhaps I just held a strong association to the original recordings, which made it difficult for me to appreciate the cover. After all, no one is ever going to top Elton John's "Your Song" or Billy Joel's "Just The Way You Are". They are iconic. Even with a mega-talented singer like Harry, they come off like phoned-in karaoke. The only exceptions were "Close to You", "Some Enchanted Evening" and "The Way You Look Tonight". Everything else, sadly, left me wanting more.

I don't mean to sound so incredibly harsh. The CD is not horrible. It's simply "okay". I just expected more as a fan. If I was not already a fan, I may have felt differently. (Sorry, Harry - I still love you! Please don't hate me!) It will still be a good soundtrack to have on hand to wind down after a long day with a wine glass nearby.

BUY IT: Your Songs is available now on Amazon or at a music retailer near you. Be sure to check out this behind-the-scenes video of the making of the album.

You can also catch Harry at one of his many upcoming TV appearances:

9/29 - The View
9/30 - Imus in the Morning
9/30 - Letterman
10/1 - Today Show
Week of 10/5 - Rachael Ray

And in case you missed him on Oprah last week, check out this video interview and special musical medley performance. I love that he's a devoted family man and I look forward to what Harry has for us next.

For more information on Harry Connick, Jr. or Your Songs, visit his website or become his fan on Facebook!

Note: This post reflects my personal opinion. You may have a different experience after listening to this album.

Disclaimer: I was invited to review this album due to my membership in the One2One Network. I received a free copy of this CD from One2One Network on behalf of Columbia Records for my candid review. I was in no other way compensated for this post.
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