1959's "No One Cares" is the fourth album of saloon ballads Frank recorded at Capitol, his second with Gordon Jenkins and arguably the least remembered of them. The latter may sound like a controversial statement, but along with "Where Are You," "No One Cares" doesn't get the attention and praise that "In the Wee Small Hours" and "Only the Lonely" do.
Upon listening, it's easy to see why; of all Frank's saloon albums, it's easily the most morose and dirge like, which makes sense considering each of the previous album seemed to get darker than its predecessor. Even so, "No One Cares" is utterly devoid of hope, almost suicidal sounding. The previous albums had songs that offered some sort of respite, be it the self deprecating irony of "Glad to be Unhappy," the glimmer of hope in "Maybe You'll Be There," or the outright thematic clash of "Ebb Tide." "No One Cares" is consistently funereal throughout, aside from some of the humorous boasts in "I Can't Get Started," but even those are contrasted by an inescapable futility.
If it sounds like I'm knocking "No One Cares," I'm not. It is an excellent album, just a tougher listen than most Sinatra albums. The songs and arrangements are consistently outstanding, and the album contains some of his best performances, such as the devastating "A Cottage for Sale," the definitive version of the classic "Here's That Rainy Day," and the chilling "None But the Lonely Heart." Frank also turns in wonderful takes on "Stormy Weather" and "I Can't Get Started," and revisits his first hit single "I'll Never Smile Again" with a pathos and maturity he couldn't conjure in the Dorsey days.
Gordon Jenkins' arrangements aren't very dynamic, but they serve the record perfectly and the strings sound so good here, adding the right emotional colouring to each track (it's generally black or grey). It's here where Jenkins cemented himself as Sinatra's first choice for albums that require such lush, dark arrangements, and he did this well throughout the remainder of his work with him.
"No One Cares" is another winner from Frank's greatest period, even if it takes some time to get into due to its heavy overtones. That said, when you hit bottom and need a friend to accompany you through it, I can't think of better companions than a dimly lit room, a small glass of whiskey, and Frank's sympathetic voice on this album.