Natalie Cole – Still
In 1991, Natalie Cole's career was in a
weird spot. After over a decade as a pop/soul star, she was only a few years beyond a big career resurrection
with hits like "Miss You Like Crazy" and "Pink Cadillac," but she seemed to be
fading into the background. She made a gutsy and
career-changing move, deciding to pay tribute to her father Nat "King" Cole
- the legendary vocalist who had arguably the best voice in popular music
Unforgettable had Natalie
recording a whole bunch of her dad's classics. The title track even
became a duet with her late father due to digital magic - and was Natalie's last
top forty hit single. The album became such a pop culture phenomenon
that at that moment her career was completely redefined. She was no
longer a lightweight pop/soul star, she was an interpreter of the Great
years later, Cole is going back to the well. Still Unforgettable
is a collection of standards - though not all Nat "King" Cole songs this
time around. It also has a studio duet with dad - this time around an
easy-going and sweet "Walking My Baby Back Home."
Unforgettable - in 1993 there was Take a
Look, in 1996 there was Stardust (in which she did another Nat
"King" Cole duet with "When I Fall In Love"), in 2004 Ask A Woman Who
Knows and she did "The Christmas Song" - another Nat "King" Cole cover - for
the soundtrack to the movie Scrooged. It is
particularly surprising that Cole has returned to this style following up
her return to pop on two of her last three CDs, the jazzy but decidedly more modern
and surprisingly strong
Snowfall on the Sahara (1999) and Leavin' (2006).
This is not the first time she has gone
back in this direction, though. She has somewhat regularly done other
standards disks since
Still if the new album has a tiny bit of a
been-there/done-that vibe, these are beautiful songs done with exquisite
The father/daughter duet of
"Walking My Baby Back Home" points out both the positives and the negatives
of mixing her voice with that of her father - as did "Unforgettable" and
"When I Fall In Love" before it. Natalie Cole is a wonderful and
talented vocalist, but she seems to be working a little too hard. Her
father's vocals flow much more naturally and feel more comfortable with the
tune - he knows perfectly how to caress the melody and doesn't have to showboat
- like his daughter sometimes falls back
Ironically, although these
duets have become the "event" of the albums they are on, she really sounds
better on the songs without the distraction and comparison of her father.
After all, it is no great crime to be out-sung by Nat "King" Cole - most
people who would put their voices up with his would be in the same boat.
However, people who want to hear Nat singing these songs could easily get
his originals. Natalie is better off when the attention is on her
rather than the gimmick.
the hell out of such classics as "You Go To My Head," "It's Alright With
Me," "Come Rain Or Come Shine" and a stunning take on "Why Don't You Do
Right" - again reminding us of Cole's prowess as an interpreter.
Still Unforgettable is a very solid - if not
exactly original or adventurous - recording. With Cole coping with some significant health woes - she
is in the hospital as this review is being written, dealing with exhaustion
due to Hepatitis C - we should cherish any chance we get to enjoy this
supremely talented vocalist.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright © 2008 PopEntertainment.com.
Posted: September 25, 2008.