It's doubtless impossible for anyone to avoid some degree of cliché when tackling the Beatles yet again. Of course there have been covers beyond count, and even adapting the band's songs to other genres (jazz not least among them) is well-trodden ground. Still, this quartet does a solidly enjoyable job in going for playfulness more than pastiche. The success of any such tribute also depends on the sincerity of the performance, and on that count they deliver perfectly. The group's clear love of these "English standards" is the main key to Blackbird's understated charm.
If over-familiar material turns out to be an album's biggest hurdle, that isn't really so bad as hurdles go. The quartet's line-up of guitar, saxophone, double bass and drums does a lot to adjust the music's flavor to that of a bebop session, as does the wise decision to keep it mostly instrumental, apart from a couple of admirably straight-faced vocal spots. Rubber Soul Quartet finds its own fitting angle on each piece in this context. The arrangements are well-chosen to respect each song's central qualities: quiet beauty for "Blackbird," toe-tapping 1930s dancehall for the brisk "Honey Pie," and simple and humble warmth to make "Here Comes the Sun" a particularly beautiful highlight.
The other more successful moments come when the quartet roams a little further afield. "Yellow Submarine" sheds the original's cartoon silliness for a quick round of jitterbugging, while "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" romps almost as intricately to bring things to a close. When things are more straightforward, it's still a breezy time; these treatments come out merely pleasant at worst, happily cooking at best. True to the band's name, there is always plenty of bounce and soul throughout.
I Feel Fine; She's Leaving Home; Yellow Submarine; Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown); Here
Comes the Sun; Drive My Car; I'll Follow the Sun; Honey Pie; Blackbird; Lady Madonna; Ob-La-Di,
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