You don't need to be Austin Powers to enjoy Burt Bacharach
. The composer is a primogeniture descendant of the geniuses who created the great American songbookthe Gershwins, Cole Porter
, Hoagy Carmichael
, Irving Berlin, and their contemporaries. Usually in the company of lyricist Hal David, Bacharach wrote and arranged some of the most grown-up chart music of the 1960s, a body of work that enjoyed huge success despite everythingfirst Bob Dylan
, then The The Beatles
, and finally acid rockthat was thrown at it. David may not be a literary sophisticate on quite the same level as his own forebears, but 50 years on, Bacharach's music not only endures but sounds fresh and vibrant.
The 1960s were Bacharach's purple period, but he's continued to write, and have hits, in the decades since. In 1998, he teamed up with singer and lyricist Elvis Costello for the well received Painted From Memory (Mercury). In 2009, now an octogenarian, Bacharach has given his blessing to Dutch singer Traincha's This Girl's In Loveactually drawn from two separate albums released in Holland in the last few yearsplaying piano on three tunes and contributing a new one, "Who'll Speak For Love."
The earliest of the 18 songs covered on This Girl's In Love are "Waiting For Charlie (To Come Home)," a hit for Etta James
in 1962, and "Don't Make Me Over," an even bigger hit for his soon-to-be vocal muse, Dionne Warwick, later that same year. There's a choice selection of other classics"The Look Of Love," "I'll Never Fall In Love Again," "Walk On By," "I Say A Little Prayer," "What The World Needs Now" and another half dozen prime cuts including, of course, the title trackand the chronology continues up to "God Give Me Strength," from the Costello album, and the aforementioned "Who'll Speak For Love."
Despite the fact that This Girl's In Love is on Blue Note, Traincha (born Trijntje Oosterhuis) isn't a jazz singer and the Metropole Orchestra isn't a jazz band. The arrangements, by Patrick Williams
and Vince Mendoza
, are mellifluous and musicianly, with the vocals right up front; closer to the tradition of big band-with-singer (and in this case a lot of strings) that was a not so distant relation of jazz from the 1930s through the 1950s.
And for all the above we can be grateful. For what shines through here are Bacharach's melodies and David's lyrics, sung and played as the composers originally intendedun-restructured and through-composed. Some of the songs are poignant, some are bittersweeta few, like "Waiting For Charlie (To Come Home"), are downright desolatebut the abiding ambiance is upbeat and optimistic. Love is the constant lyric concern, and the word "love" itself crops up in five of the titles (six if you include its unspoken presence in "What The World Needs Now"). It's music designed spread a little joy, and it does.
Personnel: Traincha: vocals; Burt Bacharach: piano (10, 12, 13); Toots Thielemans: harmonica (13); Hans Vroomans: piano; Ruud Breuls: flugelhorn; Peter Tiehuis: guitar; Aran Kersbergen: bass; Martjin Vink: drums; Metropole Orchestra, conducted by Vince Mendoza.