Buoyed by the popularity of the hit contemporary pop ballad "Home," singer Michael Bubl?'s 2005 album, It's Time, clearly positioned the vocalist as the preeminent neo-crooner of his generation. Bubl?'s 2007 follow-up, Call Me Irresponsible, only further reinforced this notion. Not only had he come into his own as a lithe, swaggering stage ...
Buoyed by the popularity of the hit contemporary pop ballad "Home," singer Michael Bubl?'s 2005 album, It's Time, clearly positioned the vocalist as the preeminent neo-crooner of his generation. Bubl?'s 2007 follow-up, Call Me Irresponsible, only further reinforced this notion. Not only had he come into his own as a lithe, swaggering stage performer with a knack for jazzing a crowd, but he had also grown into a virtuoso singer. Sure, he'd never drop nor deny the Sinatra comparisons, but now Bubl?'s voice -- breezy, tender, and controlled -- was his own. It didn't hurt, either, that he and his producers found the perfect balance of old-school popular song standards and more modern pop covers and originals that at once grounded his talent in tradition and pushed him toward the pop horizon. All of this is brought to bear on Bubl?'s 2009 effort, Crazy Love. Easily the singer's most stylistically wide-ranging album, it is also one of his brightest, poppiest, and most fun. Bubl? kicks things off with the theatrical, epic ballad "Cry Me a River" and proceeds to milk the tune with burnished breath, eking out the drama line by line. It's over the top for sure, but Bubl? takes you to the edge of the cliff, prepares to jump, and then gives you a knowing wink that says, not quite yet -- there's more fun to be had. And what fun it is with Bubl? swinging through "All of Me" and killin' Van Morrison's classic "Crazy Love" with a light and yearning touch. And just as "Home" worked to showcase Bubl?'s own writing abilities, here we get the sunshine pop of "Haven't Met You Yet" -- a skippy, jaunty little song that brings to mind a mix of the Carpenters and Chicago. Throw in a rollicking and soulful duet with Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings on "Baby (You've Got What It Takes)" and a fabulously old-school close-harmony version of "Stardust" with Bubl? backed by the vocal ensemble Naturally 7, and Crazy Love really starts to come together. All of this would be enough to fall in love with the album, but then Bubl? goes and throws in a last-minute overture by duetting with fellow Canadian singer/songwriter Ron Sexsmith on Sexsmith's ballad "Whatever It Takes." A devastating, afterglow-ready paean for romance, the song is a modern-day classic that pairs one of the most underrated and ignored songwriters of his generation next to one of the most ballyhooed in Bubl? -- a classy move for sure. The result, like the rest of Crazy Love, is pure magic. [The 2010 Crazy Love: Hollywood Edition features the added Hollywood EP, featuring four new studio cuts and four live performance tracks.] ~ Matt Collar, Rovi