On the crooning Canuck’s eighth studio album, To Be Loved (out today, ) his performance is ever strong and mature. Now 37, he’s aging well and lays into the opening track — Mack Gordon and Josef Myrow‘s “You Make Me Feel So Young,” popularized by Frank Sinatra almost six decades ago — with some obvious maturity in his delivery. It’s a traditional big band arrangement that sets a classic tone for the album to follow. And, I mean, really, he sounds great. He doesn’t have that same masculine oomph as Sinatra, but that standard’s too steep to hold him to. Simply, that Buble’s smooth baritone would make me sit back, loosen my tie, tap my foot and snap my fingers a few times, in the moment, it feels like I’ll owe him for that forever.
For better or worse, this fantasy does not stick. By the next song, the original number “It’s a Beautiful Day,” that also serves as the album’s lead single, the daydream is interrupted by composition and production changes such as electric guitars and cheery modern pop stylings. On their face, these are not bad. The songwriting is fine and catchy enough for radio, or at least minivan CD players, but that juxtaposition is jarring. This is pretty much how the entire album goes, too: One minute Buble has transported us in time and place, and by the next track we’re feeling at least a little self-conscious about having allowed ourselves to be entranced by his smooth wholesome voice.
On To Be Loved, four of the 14 tracks are Buble-originals. Otherwise, he runs through a list of well-appropriated classics and standards with perfect ease: Smokey Robinson‘s “Who’s Lovin You,” Randy Newman‘s “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” (from the Toy Story soundtrack) and a duet with Reese Witherspoon on “Something Stupid,” made famous by Frank and Nancy Sinatra, are among them. That he’d name the whole collection after Jackie “Mr Excitement” Wilson‘s beautiful belting ballad is fitting completely. In his personal life, a husband and father to be, Buble is effective at delivering amour’s sweet sentiments, conjured in varying ways with the joy that one feels not just from loving but by being loved himself.
Buble uses that power to carry the album poignantly, be it songs he wrote or those by others. So even if it’s not the coolest disc around, that’s beside the point, and it’s a relief to be free of that demand. Rather, there’s something nice and comforting in this album; a little like being loved.
The Best Song Isn’t The Single: Buble’s “Close Your Eyes” is down tempo and heart wrenchingly beautiful in its over sentimental poetics.
Best Listened To While..: Driving the kids to soccer practice or a romantic night away with the hubby.
Idolator Rating: 3.5/5
— Colin Stutz