Warm Summer Night Dreams
REVIEW BY: JB
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/03/2004
One of the most disturbing thoughts to cross the mind of anyone over fifteen watching American Idol is that all of these singers sound the same. Not to be pop-cist or anything but all of these singers seem to be exploiting a sort of Whitney Houston Myth of the one mike, no instrument in the hands, and big voice. Behavioral zoologists will tell you that emulation of form is emulation of power. Ada de Luque's album Warm Summer Night Dreams is a kind of beautiful but failed attempt to break the myth it draws from, the smoky film noir standards-singer. She writes her own songs but might as well sing standards.
The album opens with an intimately crafted song called "Falling" which introduces the theme of the album's content and form: a mellow, immaculately produced album crossing piano bar jazz, Caribbean rhythms, and lyrics trying simultaneously for sensuality and simplicity (usually failing). The prop-like lyrics are consistently the weakest part of the album, and as admirable as writing most of the songs herself is, de Luque could benefit from a solid lyricist. "Yellow Butterfly," "No Color of You," "Tu Cosejo," "Pazzia" all sound like she is faking the emotions she is supposed to have, like Celine Dion covering Aretha Franklin.
Possibly the finest song on the album, "Lascivious Love" moves into "popera" territory by weaving "In Trutina" from Carmina Burana into verses that are supposed to be sexy but somehow fails to set afire. Her classical training shines through however and it truly is a beautiful symbiosis between classical and modern visions. However, "Drume" alternates operatic and pop singing techniques into a lullaby and manages to throw in congas and flute as well, and should all work but like the rest of the album ends up a little too structured and predictable.
Sprinkled in between are midtempo tracks strategically placed for variation. An attractive, barebones remake of "The Nearness of You" turns into a light dance song (the "dance" here is closer to "wedding reception" than "Britney Spears Live from Hawaii") which makes you wonder how much better if she had just continued with the trumpet-and-bass only accompaniment. The title track is just a boring version of "Lascivious Love" and there's an extremely soft reggae track called "Agua de Coco" that has an annoying flaw in its voice mastering.
Most of these songs lack a goes-all-the-way feel, or even a powerful restraint feel. De Luque seems to be trying on different musical themes and personas without really trying harder than making a pretty but predictable (thus tedious) track.
There are those artists who are masters at enhancing their themes with different myths, such as Sarah Brightman, Bruce Springsteen or Madonna (just the first three to pop into mind). Warm Summer Night Dreams is not quite of that caliber of vision. It is, however, a euphonious, easy and well-produced album that will sound great on big speakers, as romantic background music on… warm summer nights.