Monday, 25 July 2016

CD Review: Cheyenne Jackson – Renaissance (2016)

“Never seemed so right before"

Cheyenne Jackson’s first album I’m Blue, Skies was an unexpectedly shiny and effective pop-fest but Renaissance sees him move a little closer to his acting roots. This album has been adapted out of his one-man show ‘Music of the Mad Men Era’ and so heavily features music from the 50s and 60s in all their brassy, bossa-nova throwback charm into which Jackson, in all his elegance and ravishing vocal prowess, slides beautifully.

It’s almost criminally smooth at times - from the opening big band sound of ‘Feeling Good’ which sounds amazing to multitracked vocal of ‘Angel Eyes’ to spring in the step of ‘Walkin' My Baby Back Home’, it’s impossible to resist its huge geniality. And by the time he throws in the lighter touches of ‘Americano’ (with a cheeky interpolation that will please fans of his American Horror Story role), the sway of ‘Bésame Mucho’ and a delightful, gossamer-light duet with Jane Krakowski on ‘Somethin' Stupid’, you’ll be utterly seduced.

Jackson is so at home in this material that the deviations from it thus feel a little incongruous. There’s nothing wrong with the gentle piano-based covers of the likes of ‘A Case of You’ and ‘Your Song’ but they just don’t stand out in this company. You just want to hear that 22-strong orchestra, conducted by Kevin Stites, time and again, and so the drama and passion of ‘I (Who Have Nothing)’ and ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ are more successful in that respect.

There’s a nice personal touch late on with Renaissance’s sole original track ‘Red Wine Is Good for My Heart’, co-written by Jackson and Michael Feinstein in tribute to his late grandmother, proving not only is he drop-dead gorgeous and sound like a dream, he’s a nice boy too. Please come to London soon!



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