Kylie Minogue’s ‘The Abbey Road Sessions’: Album Review

Jeff Katz | November 6, 2012 5:30 am
When most artists of Kylie Minogueʼs stature want to celebrate a career milestone (or fulfill that last album obligation in their soon-to-be-finished recording contract), a greatest hits collection is the go-to fix. If youʼre lucky, maybe a few remixes will be thrown in for good measure, but thatʼs about it. And that certainly would have been the expected release from such a pop/dance diva like Kylie. But to mark this, her 25th year in the biz, Kylie flexed those musical muscles that all-too-many critics questioned she had and completely reworked some of her biggest hits.

Such are the 16 tracks on The Abbey Road Sessions (out today, ), recorded at the famed London studio with the backing of her touring band and a full orchestra. So, can Kylie slow it down and still serve up fabulousness? Of course! Purists will have a hard time complaining over the track listing, which covers everything from “The Locomotion” to the more recent “All The Lovers” — a particularly beautiful rendition, at that. And maybe its her own curse of being such a “performer,” but for me, the biggest fault of the album isn’t the music itself, but rather a lack of visuals. The toned-down, orchestral feel lends itself so well to a live show that thereʼs a sense while listening to The Abbey Road Sessions that “seeing” the music could help breathe a bit more life into some of the particularly slow parts.

That said, most of the re-workings are beautiful. And most surprisingly, you may even finish the album falling for a single that you previously never gave the time of day! (More on that later.)

Many of the cuts—including “On A Night Like This,” “Finer Feelings” and “Confide In Me” — sound ready for placement in a Bond film. Driving drums and suspenseful strings breathe new life into the old favorites. And ever the performer with a knack for the dramatic, thereʼs an impressive grandness that builds throughout many of the tracks, particularly notable given the albumʼs lack of high-tech production.

Even one of Kylieʼs biggest hits, “Canʼt Get You Out Of My Head,” gets a total — and brilliant — reinvention. Considering that this one has been reworked and remixed within an inch of its life at this point (because, really, has anyone ever seen her perform the same version of “Canʼt Get You Out Of My Head” more than once?!), the fact that the song can get yet another fresh take just proves that damn good pop songs stand the test of time — and that we canʼt get this song out of our heads.

A gem that most are likely to note is “Flower,” a previously unreleased fan favorite from her X days. Itʼs also serving as the albumʼs official single, which proves to be smart both for diehards, who will buy it up immediately, and in terms of marketing, as the gorgeous orchestration sets great expectations for the album as a whole. And as weʼve come to expect from Kylie, she delivers.

Most Surprising Reworking: I may get my gay card taken away for this one, but I was never a fan of “Slow.” Like, at all. (I may have even designated that as my bathroom break song during her first US tour). That is, until this version, which drips of sex that’s somehow sultry and playful, yet mature. Take note, Madge.

Best F-you to naysayers: Particularly early on in her career, some critics charged Kylie with having “thin vocals” and being indebted to high-gloss production. Well, as if still putting out albums 25 years later wasn’t enough to shut ’em up, The Abbey Road Sessions highlights vocals that have never sounded stronger from a singer who has never seemed so cool and confident.

Best Listened To: When Kylie comes back to the US for special one-night-only orchestra performances at Radio City Music Hall, the Hollywood Bowl and the like! Wishful thinking?!

Idolator Rating: 4.5/5

Jeff Katz