With the slightly fictionalized story of her life all over the big screen in
Dreamgirls, it seems only natural for Diana Ross to take the opportunity
to return with her first album of new material in almost eight years. It's a
bit of a disappointment that the return is marked in such a safe and
unadventurous way, though.
Nowadays, every past-their-sell-by artist releases an album of covers.
In a TV commercial for this set, Ross claims that she wants the songs to be
like photos in an album – memories of your life. However, the song
choices seem to be a little too predictable – most of these songs have been
successfully covered by others in recent years. The choices also seems a little
haphazard. How exactly do you draw a line from the Platters' "Only
You" to Berlin's Top Gun ballad "Take My Breath Away?"
Strangely, one of the best tunes here – certainly the one in which Miss
Ross sounds most invested – is the only new song here, "I Love You (That's
All That Matters.)" Another newish song, "What About Love?" from the
musical version of The Color Purple, also feels more fresh, making
you wonder why Ross didn't just do an album of new material.
Instead you get a bunch of songs which are admitted classics – all done not
quite as well as they have been done before. "Always and Forever," "You
Are So Beautiful" and "The Look of Love" have been recorded so many times
mostly having at least one definitive version as well – that Ross brings little to the table with them.
only cover songs which really stand out here are the only choices
which seem like there was a little thought put into them. "I Will" by
the Beatles is of course a masterpiece, but it's far from the most obvious
song in the Lennon/McCartney songbook to be chosen for revival. Same
with "Remember," which is not really Nilsson's definitive tune. For
these two artists, at least, it seems like Ross and her producers are
delving a little deeper. The
Spiral Starecase's 1969 bubblegum popper "More Today than Yesterday" and
Bill Withers' funky "Lovely Day" are the only two songs in the this ballad
heavy set which actually have a bit of a musical pulse – and therefore are
the most fun recordings.
I Love You has some great music, mostly impeccably sung, tastefully
arranged – but you've heard it all before. (1/07)