Michael Bublé ⎜To Be Loved ⎜Reprise ⎜US Release Date: April 23, 2013
Maybe its subjective, but does Canadian pop/vocal star Michael Bublé ever miss? (Yes, that’s really rhetorical). After several platinum albums, 2013’s To Be Loved sounds like it could be on its way to give the über talented Bublé another platinum plaque. And guess what, it would be well deserved. Perhaps the epitomization of consistency, To Be Loved is yet another well conceived album from Bublé. What makes it so effective? Bublé mixes things up. He sticks to his roots with swinging big-band jazz standards, but also throws in some originals (which he co-writes). Sometimes, he’ll revisit classic pop or soul (The Bee Gees, The Jackson 5), while others he’ll rely on a Disney tune penned by the likes of Randy Newman. Sure, Bublé has a formula, but he has thoughtfully executed it since, well his 2003 self-titled debut for Reprise. At a crisp 46 minutes, Bublé knows the ‘tighter’ the ‘better.’
You know what’s hard to believe? Crazy Love was released four years ago in 2009! Even given the release of Christmas in 2011, it doesn’t seem that long ago Bublé had us “Feeling Good”. And what about that big hit, bright pop hit “Haven’t Met You Yet“, which peaked at no. 24. For an easy-listening stud like Bublé, that is awesome.
Bublé keeps things traditional on the big band driven opener “You Make Me Feel So Young“, care of Josef Myrow and Mack Gordon. Arranged by Dave Pierce, the horns scream passionately with Bublé completing the musical portrait with his magnificent pipes. As good as the classic cut is, Bublé captivates even more on the original “It’s A Beautiful Day“, co-written by himself, Alan Chang, and Amy S. Foster (they co-wrote a little ditty called “Haven’t Met You Yet” by the way). Bright, bubbly, and a clear contrast to the jazzy opener, “It’s A Beautiful Day” makes one feel energized and happy listen to it. Perhaps you should feel annoyed by Buble’s optimism, but everything feels right and instantly, you can just tell that Bublé is in his comfort zone. Going for three straight triumphs, Bublé travels back into time, this time to the 70s with a solid cover of the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody“. Allan Chang handles the arrangement, and it is a great one with soulful production as well as biting horns and lush strings, sigh*. Throw in Bublé yielding some of his most soulful vocals of the album, and “To Love Somebody” truly makes you want to kiss somebody, anybody… “You don’t know what it like…” after all “…to love somebody…” Excellence. Paying ode to The Jackson 5, Bublé bursts in to a rousing (if quicker) rendition of “Who’s Lovin’
You“. Sure Bublé is a bit too old to hit the falsetto like a pre-teen Michael Jackson, but he certainly does the Smokey Robinson penned classic justice. Bublé gets the assist from Academy Award winning actress/singer Reese Witherspoon on “Something Stupid“. While Bublé dominates the duet, the mix is perfect with Witherspoon’s harmonies mixed just behind Bublé’s. After ‘saying something stupid’ that was as pleasant as everything else in all honesty, Bublé digs into the standards book for a Sammy Cohn/James Van Heusen classic, “Come Dance With Me“. It brings nothing new we haven’t heard or come to expect from the vocalist, but it continues to remind us, well, just how good he is! Hey, he convinced me to dance on one of the less elite cuts that happens to be as solid as just about everything else. That’s something.
After the rousing “Come Dance With Me”, Bublé slackens things on the lovely, thoughtful adult contemporary original “Close Your Eyes“. Perhaps this might be considered a ‘middle-of-the-road’ cut with someone else, but Bublé truly makes it sing with his delivery. The soaring strings only add to the sincerity. On the even stronger standout “After All“, Bublé brings in the assistance of none other than Bryan Adams. Rivaling the brilliant “It’s A Beautiful Day” (and including co-writer Alan Chang from that union), “After
All” is another uptempo, bubbly, pop smash. Returning to covers, “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” gets sound treatment, featuring the voices of Naturally 7. On “To Be Loved“, Bublé outdoes himself, delivering some absolutely stunning vocal runs. Wanna experience real swagger? Bublé’s performance on “To Be Loved” epitomizes it. Kudos to Dave Pierce’s stunning arrangement of the Berry Gordy, Jr. co-write. Moving back into more modern times, Bublé handles “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” (Toy Story composed by Randy Newman) with the class and personality you would expect – rock solid. The rest of the album, similarly truly yields little room for criticism. The Puppini Sisters ‘help a brother out’ on “Nevertheless (I’m In Love With You)” delivering fine vocal harmonies. “I Got It Easy“, the last of the originals doesn’t supersede the early ‘new classics’, but does showcase Bublé focusing in on his lower register, eventually ascending to that powerful tenor. Going out swingin’, he shuts it down with “Young at Heart”.
Like his previous hit albums, To Be Loved has everything that you expect from Bublé. Perhaps most importantly, To Be Loved possesses a ‘balance’ about it, alluded to in the introduction. His voice itself is one of the very best; his tone is absolutely stunning. Maybe Bublé never has (or never will) reinvent himself musically, but why should he/does he need to? He has a voice suited to sing vocal standards and adult-contemporary pop originals. With a voice as classic and refined as his, why should he change or compromise his artistry? It works, it sells, and To Be You may have edge of the best ‘vocal’ album of 2013 (sorry Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, and Harry Connick, Jr.). Impressive? Of course, young Sinatra couldn’t do it any other way!
Favorites: “You Make Me Feel So Young”; “It’s a Beautiful Day”; “To Love Somebody”; “Close Your Eyes”; “After All”; “To Be Loved”