Picks and Pans Review: What's New
updated 10/17/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 10/17/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Ronstadt dedicates this album of pop standards to her hardware-merchant father: "When I was growing up, my father, who has an infallible ear for a great melody, taught me a lot about these songs and the people who sang them." Gilbert Ronstadt can be proud of his daughter's ability to turn her voice and sensitivities to these old tunes with such respect and finesse. He might, however, want to take a punch or two at the nose of producer Peter Asher and arranger-conductor Nelson Riddle. They, in what seems to be an attempt to create a torchy mood, have turned out an album that often seems solemn and sluggish. All nine tunes—I've Got a Crush on You and Someone to Watch Over Me among them—are done as very down-tempo ballads. While Ronstadt handles them at least as well as any swing-band vocalist ever did—she sounds a lot like Kitty Kallen at times—the LP as a whole has a dreary rather than melancholy feel. Riddle, whose arrangements for Frank Sinatra have rarely been less than perfect, just bogs her down too much of the time. The most effective track is the old Billie Holiday favorite Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?), which allows Ronstadt to unleash at least some hint of the energy that is such an important part of her appeal as a vocalist. Ronstadt's versatility is still amazing, though. If she copes with La Bohème, which she says she may perform with New York producer Joe Papp, she will have done just about everything but sing polkas, which she could obviously do with style, too. This is far from the embarrassment of Carly Simon's try at the pop standards, Torch. It is also far from the classic album it should have been, given the talent involved.