Michael Buble’s ‘To Be Loved’: Album Review

Seriously, you guys, Michael Buble is pretty good. Who knows how, or if he’ll be remembered generations from now — even the most remarkable musicians are forgotten — but at this time and place he’s the world’s most successful male jazz vocalist, and with good reason.

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

idolator
  • Glenn

    To Be Loved is far the best song on the cd

  • Heather

    Stop the arguing, his voice is not auto-tuned. However, it is heavily glossed over. All the beautiful tremor and flicks between phrases in his voice have been almost completely rubbed off in the mixing. Also, it seems too compressed throughout; claustrophobic, like there’s no space in the tracks for them to breathe. I feel bad because you always hear him in interviews talking about how he records the band and vocals live in studio, which is great, but if you’re not going to mix it right, what’s the point?
    Is it just me or is his songwriting getting worse? “Everything” and “Lost” were beautiful, but now his songs seem so trite. “It’s a Beautiful Day” is far too cliché for my taste, it even borrows directly from Duke Ellington’s “Do Nothing Til You Hear From Me” and other crooner music. It’s like he’s trying too hard to be a classic song man when he doesn’t need to. He’s been writing with the same person the whole time, so I think he needs to work with someone new once in a while to freshen things up and get his touch back.
    Buble’s arrangements have always been highly stylized, but usually they vary in theme inside each album. This one seems to stick to an overwrought Nelson Riddle 60′s variety show approach for the whole record. I saw his Christmas specials and I appreciate that he’s trying to bring back that Perry Como, mid-century aesthetic, but it doesn’t translate well in this recording.
    I’m highly disappointed with “Something Stupid.” His voice doesn’t mesh with Reese Witherspoon’s as well as I’d hoped, and the heavy-handed modern beat isn’t woven with the usual big band well at all. It would have served the song much better have a simpler arrangement that focused more on the flamenco guitar work. That being said, “Come Dance With Me” is fantastic, vintage Buble.
    In short, Michael Buble should get David Foster back at the helm as producer, fire whoever mixed this, and write songs with someone else for a while. I hope this is just a fluke, because I love Michael’s previous work. Better luck next time, Buble.