Review Summary: A pop icon changes things to suite his swing.
Robbie Williams, one of pop music’s most entertaining and talented
(A word I use hesitantly) male pop artists of the past decade has surprisingly swung in a complete 360 degree spin quite literally with his release of Swing When You’re Winning,
an album based on jazz covers and an original composition. With Swing When You’re Winning
, Williams has released a collection of Rat Pack-era swing songs, and proves that he is not only able to artfully capture our attention, he's actually worthy of it.
Recorded at Los Angeles, Capitol Studios (the same studio where legends including Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin recorded), Swing...
replicates the magic of those classic recording sessions. Swing...
has called on a long list of guest performers for help, including Bill Miller at the ripe old age of 84, who was one of Sinatra's first session pianists, for fantastic rendition of ‘One for My Baby.’ The album's first single, which is a cover of the Frank and Nancy Sinatra number ‘Somethin' Stupid’ features Australian actress, Nicole Kidman. While actor Jon Lovitz sits in on the Cole Porter classic ‘Well Did You Evah’ which is another old Sinatra duet, originally with Bing Crosby from the film High Society. Quite surprisingly Old Blue Eyes himself makes an appearance on the moving ‘It Was a Very Good Year’. Williams’ confident performance and likeable tonality (heard throughout the album on tracks like the Duke Ellington-written ‘Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me’ and the wistful ‘Beyond the Sea’) are dampened only when juxtaposed with Sinatra's perfect vocal timbre and phrasing. However, Williams looms over actor Rupert Everett on a cover of the popular Gershwin tune ‘They Can't Take That Away from Me.’
Like his pop offerings, Swing...
is immersed with cheeky humour. Williams converts the Bobby Darin-penned ‘Things’ into a happy duet with actress Jane Horrocks, best known as Bubble from the sitcom Absolutely Fabulous. The album's only original composition, ‘I Will Talk and Hollywood Will Listen’ is a satirical number that, intentionally or not, begs to know why America has yet to indulge in Robbie Williams’ previous albums, as the line Cameron Diaz, give me a sign / Steven Spielberg, look what you're missing
Jazz is a hard task for any mainstream singer to tackle; but Robbie Williams does it in an almost unparallel manner. He might not have the suave of Michael Buble but Williams has found his own way to entice the audience with his smooth yet unfinished voice. Swing When You’re Winning
could easily be one of the best Jazz vocal cover albums in this decade.