This album won't lay to rest suspicions about Boyle's emotional or mental fragility. From the song selection to the arrangements, Steve Mac is obviously producing her with kid gloves. On the other hand, it's the sense of watching someone skate on thin ice as it were that adds drama to Boyle's graceful but otherwise nondescript performances. And although the Gershwin cover gets top billing, it's the Depeche Mode, Tears for Fears, and Paolo Nutini covers that will make you hope Mac keeps using Boyle as a tabula rasa.
The outspokenly conservative actor has such an easy way with these Sinatra-identified songs that it's puzzling why he stopped after reaching the 32-minute mark, especially after taking the trouble to enlist the Grammy-winning producer Phil Ramone and a tightly swinging 30-piece orchestra. More important, Davi has taken the trouble to apply his smooth baritone to the material with affectionate enthusiasm and elegant skill. Apparently, when he said he hoped this album would help stem our culture's headlong rush toward vulgarity, he meant business.
No, Doris Day hasn't risked tarnishing her legacy by recording an album at age 87. What she has done is given Sony permission to release previously unreleased songs she recorded in the mid-'80s, one she recorded in the '90s, and one sung by her late son Terry Melcher. Each blends seamlessly with the four previously released cuts circa 1951-1994 and makes it easy to see why Nellie McKay is a fan. The high point: "Disney Girls," first recorded by her late son's friends, the Beach Boys.
Good luck disentangling the humor of these "anti-folk" songs from their insights. "Do I have to be magical? / Can't we date a few months then move on, normal and casual?" "You love his looks, you love his love, you love his family. / But is that really any reason to love him instead of me?" It's not Love, however, but Time that Lewis knows best: specifically, the residue it will leave behind when it ends, and how to use it before it uses you (up) in the meantime.
On their first six albums, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney-the Black Keys-forged a loud, pounding, electric blues-rock fusion that was more riff than melody but nonetheless as attention-getting (and attention-holding) as any other pop sound in the anything-goes 21st century. Now with El Camino (Nonesuch), the Keys have brought aboard female background singers, the celebrated producer Brian Burton-a.k.a. Danger Mouse-and added melody to their sonic arsenal.
Those decisions provide the group with a clever way out of what verged on becoming a rut, but they aren't without pitfalls of their own. For instance, echos of U2 (with whom Danger Mouse is currently in the studio) and the Clash resound, and Auerbach's lyrics are little more than functional. So consider El Camino more journey than arrival-and the attention-getting "Little Black Submarines," a stylistically fraternal twin of "Stairway to Heaven," proof that the way to the Keys' future runs through the past.