27 Feb TALKIN BROADWAY.COM – SOUND ADVICE, By Rob Lester “For her latest album, vocalist Carol Duboc gives a warm embrace to well-remembered hit 1960s pop songs by the team of composer Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David…”
The attractive-voiced singer sounds far more varied and involved here than she did on her Songs for Lovers CD, an album too often sinking into the sluggish low-energy cool jazz somnambulism. This one, however, is a cozy, jazzy outing. The hit record and usual treatments of these songs have generally emphasized the super-catchiness of the melodies and the dominating and driving rhythms, often overwhelming any other aspect. Carol is no slave to expectations or pre-existing versions by Dionne Warwick and others. Though some selections hew closer to those well-trod musical paths, others are slowed down, certainly less regimented musically, less commercial—and it’s all to the good. A songwriter and arranger herself, Carol is too creative and original to go in for sound-alike, karaoke copycatting predictability. She arranged and produced all the tracks herself and they show subtle shifts in tone, emphasis, beats and rhythms.
When she gives in to a lick or musical phrase, it’s her own delicious luxuriating in it, like riffing on “a part of me” in “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me,” reminding us of the way the little phrases in these songs are ingratiating. Curiously, “The Look of Love,” which might be ultra-romantically tender or could sizzle with the heat of anticipated passion (“I can hardly wait to hold you, feel my arms around you/ How long I have waited …”) becomes neither, settling for a less satisfying casual, almost diffident treatment.
Phrasing naturally, but often stressing an unexpected word, her versions almost always ring true and sincere. She never oversells or pushes; rather she has impact by understatement and treating the lyrics seriously when appropriate (“Anyone Who Had a Heart”). Some lyrics are illuminated anew; for example, in “Walk On By” she brings new light lines like “Let me hide” and “I just can’t get over losing you.” This attention to words brings up a pet peeve of mine, something done by many singers: giving short shrift to the lyricists. It’s egregious to me to name the album just for the composer. Bacharach worked with other lyricists, but all the ones chosen here are by the talented wordsmith Hal David and he deserves shared title billing. There are a few little instances of not being true to the lyrics: I’ve heard audiences chuckle appreciatively at the line in “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” with this playful rhyme about the downside of kissing a guy: “You get enough germs to catch pneumonia/ After you do, he’ll do, he’ll never phone ya,” but Carol ignores the intentionally cute/forced rhyme written and sings “he’ll never phone you).
“I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” is the only song from the only score written for Broadway by Bacharach and David, Promises, Promises. A few of their movie songs are here, but nothing from their one full-length score from the not-well-received Lost Horizon. Perhaps a Volume Two might dig deeper into the large catalogue and find the more neglected but worthy material. There are only 11 samples of the team’s output, with one original number written by the singer thrown into the mix: titled “My Melody,” her melody (and lyric) are ingratiating and have an ingratiating and natural appeal.
A huge asset here is the very prominent presence of the star flutist Hubert Laws. Pictured on the cover, he’s given featured billing there, too. He shows masterful playing, weaving in and out of the songs, setting moods, whether in the foreground soloing in breaks or presented as a duet partner as Carol sings in her very pleasing, clean tone, and adding more understated, briefer comments among the other musicians. Guitarist Danny Embrey is especially effective in setting up and accompanying a lovely and thoughtfully plaintive (not plodding and pleading as some would have it) “A House Is Not a Home.” Recorded with a small group of local musicians in Kansas City, Missouri, hometown to the singer and Mr. Bacharach, the CD never sounds like a nostalgic romp through the 1960s, but rather feels quite modern.