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Natalie Cole Leavin' Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

It’s time to move over and let Natalie show how it’s done…

Chris Jones 2007

This is Natalie’s second album for Verve and her first in 4 years. However at the age of 56 (56!) she’s earned her status as veteran and can afford to take her time. The result is an ultra smooth mix of standards both tasteful and obtuse. And that’s not counting the almost mandatory Sting cover.

Ably assisted by drummer/producer Dallas Austin – a man who’s earned his dues with everyone from Aretha to Michael Jackson - Cole shows that she shares far more than just her old man’s name. Her phrasing and tone show the same tasteful restraint that Nat used in interpreting others’ work and it makes a nice change from the modulated warbling that seems to pass for r’n’b these days. As Natalie herself says on “The More You Do It (The More I Like It Done)”: ‘Now this is for the old skool’. But what she applies it to may raise a couple of eyebrows along the way. While the bulk of Leavin’ is composed of an assured jazzy soul stew she throws some definite curveballs. Take her rendition of Neil Young’s country rock classic “Old Man”, or Kate Bush’s “The Man With The Child In His Eyes” for instance.

However, while Cole is most at home on the funky stuff, her approach to such genre-hopping stuff remains respectful and totally credible. Let’s not forget that her dad could handle the odd Hank Williams track occasionally. While one can’t help but worry about the recent trend to classify anything where the drummer uses brushes instead of sticks or there’s a vaguely syncopated backbeat as ‘jazz’ (while on Verve, this album’s about as jazz as Robbie Williams), this album won’t go amiss with the legions of people who have recently been won over by younger singers like Joss Stone or Jamie Cullum. It’s time to move over and let Natalie show how it’s done…

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