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Monday, September 30, 2013

Brenda Lee: Let Me Sing


1) Night And Day; 2) The End Of The World; 3) Our Day Will Come; 4) You're The Reason I'm Living; 5) Break It To Me Gently; 6) Where Are You; 7) When Your Lover Has Gone; 8) Losing You; 9) I Wanna Be Around; 10) Out In The Cold Again; 11) At Last; 12) There Goes My Heart.

No conceptual foundation this time, but no significant difference, either, except for a minor tac­tical twist: other than the opening ʽNight And Dayʼ and maybe just one or two other oldies, the majority of the songs come from recent success stories — Bobby Darin, Skeeter Davis, those kinds of people. If anything, though, it only means that polite, Disney-ish ballads occupy the space that could have been dedicated to fun retro jazz romps: if Brenda Lee is prohibited to sing rock'n'roll, she could have at least been warming our hearts with some of that old swing. But Let Me Sing is targeted exclusively at «respectable parents» circa 1963, and no one else.

Already sickening strings are now joined, on at least a third of the songs, by the greatest evil of all — croony backup vocals that successfully recreate the atmosphere of Bambi: nineteen fourty-two all over again (ʽYou're The Reason I'm Livingʼ, ʽThere Goes My Heartʼ, etc.). Brenda herself sounds strong and confident in the midst of all this sugarland, but strength and confidence are wasted on this kind of material with these kinds of arrangements. Besides, many of these songs are not even intended to be sung with strength and confidence — if there is a substantial point to a song like ʽBreak It To Me Gentlyʼ, it is pretty much lost on the singer. If somebody asked me in that particular way to «break it to me gently», I'd rather run and hide.

Anyway, the two oldies that open the two sides of the LP (ʽNight And Dayʼ, ʽWhen Your Lover Has Goneʼ) preserve some of the playful fun, and are altogether acceptable, if dispensable. The rest is mainly just awful songs in awful arrangements, sung by a singer who was not born to sing this kind of material, period. Another thumbs down, of course — don't let anyone fool you into suggesting that «time has been kind to this stuff...».

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