Hmmm. Neville - whose high voice is most often described as angelic - on a selection of favourite doo-wop songs from the 1950s and early 60s, and produced by Keith Richards and Don Was? First question: Who does backing doo-wop vocals behind That Voice? Fortunately it isn't guitarist Richards' throaty croak but members of some original doo-wop groups (the Jive-Five, Del-Vikings, Teenagers). Other players include guitarist Greg Leisz (Beck, Ryan Adams) and Petty Heartbreaker Benmont Tench on keyboards.
There are classics here (Ruby Baby, Be My Baby, Tears on My Pillow, Under the Boardwalk and so on) but enjoyable though this is (and it is), few stand comparison to the innocence and enthusiasm of the originals. That light voice hardly brings anxious desperation to Ruby Baby, sexual yearning to Ting a Ling or raunch on Work With Me Annie.
So the best tracks are the atmospheric (Curtis Mayfield's Gypsy Woman), where the original is recast and a lifetime of experience is channelled (the title track and aching Be My Baby) or those with ethereal lift-off (This Magic Moment/True Love). Classy (especially the closer Goodnight My Love), doubtless an award-winner, but not always on the money.
Verdict: The ethereal voice of New Orleans returns to first influences with mixed results
- TimeOut / elsewhere.co.nzBy Graham Reid Email Graham