The Standards

Gloria Estefan

Crescent Moon Records, 2013

http://www.gloriaestefan.com

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/03/2013

Why do they do it?

Why do artists of a certain age (the fifty-plus group are the worst offenders) feel the need to add to the ever-growing list of singers who go ahead and record a standards cover album? I have heard some good ones, but I really can’t recall even a single one that I could say added to the original material or even twisted it so well that it offered something new. I liked a couple of Rod Stewart’s efforts, but I say “liked” rather loosely, as they were just a little better than the swill of rubbish that everyone else was coming out with. I can also understand that sometimes on paper some ideas sound brilliant, but there are those that even on paper someone should have just said, “nah, forget it.”  my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Which brings me to the CD I’m currently listening to as I type this (in a last ditch effort to find something, anything about it that is relevant). The Standards is Gloria Estefan’s twenty-third studio album, and although I am really disappointed with it, I can kind of see how it came about. First, Estefan had toyed with the idea before and recorded some standards in Spanish for previous projects. Secondly, her last album, 2011’s Miss Little Havana, came as a surprise and was not that well received, as is the case with a lot of Pharrell Williams productions these days. His attempt to take the Estefan spice and passion and marry it with modern R&B beats and bleeps only worked for a couple of tracks and the rest of the album was utterly forgettable. 

So with the wind taken out of their sails a bit, Gloria (self-producing here) and hubby Emilio came up with the idea to do something completely different for a change. The only problem? Everyone is doing it. I have to say that I am a huge fan of Gloria’s and her best work is not only exciting and uplifting but heartfelt and soulful; I do really like her voice, which sounds in fine form throughout this set. The fifteen tracks were plucked from the fifty that were recorded for the project and they are an equal mix of very popular well-known classics and some more obscure songs, as well as the obligatory Spanish ones thrown into the mix for good measure.

All of the arrangements are faithful to the originals (that I know of) and are beautifully performed by the orchestra. Gloria sounds lovely singing most of them and obviously gives this 100% as she always does, but the problem is she really doesn’t add anything to them; they in no way even come close to the majesty of the originals. There are a few tracks that are just too much of a stretch for Gloria, like “The Day You Say You Love Me” and “What A Wonderful World.”  Likewise, there are a few on which Gloria eases through them with confident familiarity, such as “What A Difference A Day Makes” and “How Long Has This Been Going On.” 

Overall, though, there just isn’t really anything original or stunning enough about this album to recommend.

Rating: C-

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