BRENDA LEE: EMOTIONS (1961)
1) Emotions; 2) Just Another Lie; 3) If You Love Me (Really Love Me); 4) Crazy Talk; 5) When I Fall In Love; 6) Around The World; 7) Swanee River Rock; 8) Will You Love Me Tomorrow; 9) I'm Learning About Love; 10) Georgia On My Mind; 11) Cry; 12) I'm In The Mood For Love.
Same stylistics, same production team, same relentless perfectionism (seven different recording sessions now, after the six of This Is... Brenda), same balanced mix of bearded oldies, recent oldies, and freshly written corporate material. The only difference: out of 12 songs, two-thirds are ballads, fair and square, bringing that train still farther and farther away from the girl's rockabilly past — and, considering that the title track predictably made it into the Top 10, this line of development only seemed more and more viable as the months and years went by and the «little Miss Dynamite» was all set to grow into a «mature» Nashville queen.
Fortunately, the Nashville production team still keeps a firm grip on the limits of good taste, so that the strings are rarely overbearing, and sometimes actually border on delicious — ʽJust Another Lieʼ, a new number loosely based on some of Chuck Willis' tunes, instead of formulaic orchestration, has a haunting solo violin part that comes in through an imaginary archway midway through, and gives the tune a little bit of a Stephane Grappelli feel.
The title track does have such a powerhouse delivery that its choice for a single was understandable: the musical backing is non-descript, but this is the first time in Brenda's career when she seems to perfectly understand the power of dynamic modulation, and, true to the song's title, tries to convey not one, but several different types of emotions over those three minutes — listen to the big kick of "EMOTIONS, please set me free!..." after the first few quiet bars of the chorus, and you'll see what I mean.
Elsewhere, she takes on Edith Piaf (ʽIf You Love Meʼ), understandably, with little success, but then again, one shouldn't necessarily be aware that the song is originally a French tune; the Shirelles and Carole King (ʽWill You Love Me Tomorrowʼ), with far more success, even though I do believe nobody ever invested as much personal feeling into that song as its original author; and Ray Charles (we won't be saying «Hoagy Carmichael», really), with ʽGeorgia On My Mindʼ — a competent version, but only weathered old men can really do justice to that song (or, at least, those who successfully pretend to be weathered old men, like Richard Manuel from The Band).
Of the four upbeat tunes, ʽCrazy Talkʼ is a fun little wannabe-classic, where guitar, sax, and vocals do indeed come together in a bit of «crazy talk»; and the B-side ʽI'm Learning About Loveʼ, despite the suspicious title, is in fact a jumpy pop-rocker, with the most vivacious tone on the album and a welcome return of the old «pirate growl» from Little Miss Dynamite.
So, on the whole, one might subtract one or two of the more faceless ballads (like ʽWhen I Fall In Loveʼ), or smirk a bit about such childish cover material as the theme tune from Around The World In 80 Days, but Emotions still delivers... well, emotions. feeling glossy, but lively and cheery, and for that, gets its duly thumbs up.
Check "Emotions" (CD) on Amazon