Smokey Robinson - Timeless Love (2006)

Smokey Robinson
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For his first non-Gospel studio album in 7 years, it was a bit of a gamble for Smokey Robinson to choose to release Timeless Love, an album of covers of pop standards.  After all, he's not a traditional crooner of the type who would typically be expected be singing songs like "You Go To My Head" and "Our Love Is Here To Stay."  But, to his credit, he generally pulls it off.

For his first non-Gospel studio album in 7 years, it was a bit of a gamble for Smokey Robinson to choose to release Timeless Love, an album of covers of pop standards.  After all, he's not a traditional crooner of the type who would typically be expected be singing songs like "You Go To My Head" and "Our Love Is Here To Stay."  But, to his credit, he generally pulls it off.

The song selection on Timeless Love is not terribly imaginative, as Smokey tends to pick the same batch of songs that have been covered over the past couple of decades by dozens of aging rockers from Linda Ronstadt to Rod Stewart.  But he smartly takes a different approach, putting them in a "live" jazzy setting that plays on his biggest strength: his warm, intimate vocals.  So a worn chestnut like "Night and Day" does not get the perfunctory big band treatment, but is transformed into a quiet, romantic -- yes, even sexy -- love song.  Smokey's jazz instincts are unfortunately diluted on some songs by after-the-fact strings that were added to the recording, but his warm vocalizing (amazingly his voice sounds unchanged, even at age 67) nonetheless lifts up such familiar numbers as "More Than You Know" and "Speak Low," and gives them new life as cozy ballads.

Timeless Love is not a perfect effort, but it is a welcome change from the by-the-numbers pop standard albums that are drowning the market these days, and is worthy return for one of soul music's great masters.  Recommended.

By Chris Rizik

 

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