There should be little explanation as to why Michael Bublé's newest CD, Call Me Irresponsible, tops the list of best-selling albums on iTunes as of the writing of this review. The Canadian-bred crooner pushes songs that are immediately recognizable to any generation of listener and has a unique ability to put a modern spin on standards while remaining remarkably faithful to them.
On this, his third studio album, Bublé covers a wide range of styles adding blues-pop and early-70's R&B to his favored Sinatra-era swing and jazz. The best of the latter category is "That's Life," which Bublé introduces with a gospel choir and, when singing solo, possesses all the charm and swagger that made the Chairman of the Board a cultural juggernaut. "The Best is Yet to Come" opens the album with a few simple a capella measures but quickly launches into the Vegas showcase style that Bublé finds so irresistible. On the other hand, he infuses the title track with a smooth jazz. The beauty of Bublé is that he can win no matter which of these hands he plays.
Bublé's voyages into different genres, while certainly not new for him, is where his success wavers (if only a little). The Spanish-themed "Wonderful Tonight" leaves me searching my music library for the original. To be fair, though, the rest of the numbers that stray from the standards formula are fine. His almost by-the-letter rendition of "Me and Mrs. Jones" is haunting; the spicy "It Had Better Be Tonight (Meglio Stasera)" is fresh, thrilling, and sexy; and "Always on My Mind" is sleepy and far sweeter than the Willie Nelson or Elvis Presley versions.
The two original songs on the CD are the biggest swings away from the big band feel, but they're also two of the album's best. "Lost" is honest and heartfelt, and "Everything," arguably the best track of of the baker's dozen available (it makes sense that this is the first single), is a sunny ballad that will have better staying power than the hit "Home" after thousands of radio plays.
A first listen to Michael Bublé makes you wonder if he wasn't born in the wrong decade, but once you become familiar with his work, you grow thankful that he's making music now, and Call Me Irresponsible; is proof.