This album is nominated for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical at this year's Grammy awards. Well deserved given his background actually - he's a classically trained pianist and vocalist, and has played the dream venues of London's Royal Albert Hall and New York's Carnegie Hall.
He also recorded this at the same place that Sinatra recorded... on the same mic. Excuse me while I wipe the drool. It's chock full of standards and classics and should make for a good listen. Here's a mini-interview about songwriting and the album from Vevo:
The title track, "Music is Better Than Words" is next. Here's a live performance from, I believe, a TV special from this past year:
There's something about flutes in a band orchestration that make an entire song sound incredibly old-school, which is why "Anytime, Anywhere" has such a long-lost flavor to it. Who knew he had a romantic bone in his body?
"The Night They Invented Champagne" sounds like it's straight out of a Gershwin musical. Seriously, there's even the perfect dance break in there. It's a perfectly crafted number for the stage.
Norah Jones makes an appearance to help cover "Two Sleepy People," originally done in 1938 by Hoagy Carmichael, and since covered by the likes of Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, and Sammy David Jr. It's an incredibly sweet, romantic ballad, which actually stays pretty down-to-earth, and the voices compliment it with this almost modern sound (maybe consequence of the recording itself) that brings it to a new audience.
Seth reminds us that, while he has a great voice, he knows how to keep things light-hearted, with a number from the Broadway show Hold Everything!, "You're the Cream in My Coffee." There's whistling and everything! It's just this old song that uses imagery in a fun way. It's appropriate, I feel, to deem this one as cute.
"Something Good" goes and slows everything down. And I can't lie here, this is sickeningly sweet. It's almost too much of a crooner's song. Even the hopeless romantic in me feels like this is a little much.
We pick things back up with "Nine O'Clock" and the story of anticipation. This is an old-fashioned kind of waiting, yet I swear to you, I don't buy the idea of old-fashioned wooing. If you listen to these old standards, they're talking very vaguely of much more than kissing. They're discrete though.
Sara Bareilles joins in for "Love Won't Let You Get Away." I've been trying super hard to not compare Seth to Michael Buble this entire time, which I think is fair - Seth treats songs as jazz and big band songs, while Michael keeps things much more pop and standard. Anywhos, just needed to make that note. I have no real reason to mention that for this song in particular. I love Sara here. Well, really in any of her music too, but this is pretty cool.
"It's Easy to Remember" from the film Mississippi has this nice little slight salsa dance rhythm to it like you hear once in a while on these old crooners' albums. It looses that in the build toward the end though, sort of like saying that we're not playing around anymore. Note on Seth's voice - the belt is not his style of forte, I think, but he handles the bigger moment really well.
Not a big fan of "The Sadder But Wiser Girl" mostly because it's not nearly as polished and stylish as the rest of the songs. I understand it's more fun and upbeat, but it's not a great fit as a whole. It doesn't let an impact in any way.
"Laura" is another old standard that's been covered by a variety of people over the years since it was published in 1945 for the film of the same name. Like any girl, I'm never a huge fan of songs with other girls' names in them. It's an inherent thing, go figure. It's a sort of sappy, way-to slowed down song to begin with anyway. His voice is lovely though.
Again, we have opening music that sounds like TV show incidentals at the front of "You And I." It's another cute little love song and those flutes are taking effect again. It's another good summation of the album as a whole, where it doesn't stand out on its own, but continues to show off this voice in a really nice way.
We end things with "She's Wonderful Too." If you were waiting for the song where it sounds like something else until you hear the lyrics, this one is it. Yup, he's conflicted between two girls. We almost had an entirely serious, sweet CD, but then we get this and remember the comedian side of the guy singing. Not knocking him for it - the dude is talented and can do whatever he damn well pleases.
Stuff I Wouldn't Mind Hearing Again:
- "Two Sleepy People" - Spotify, YouTube
- "It's Easy To Remember" - Spotify, YouTube (television special version)
In truth, he's got a great voice, and did a wonderful job in recording this. While it feels disconnected at times, the album as a whole stands on its own to show what he's capable of.