Canadian singer Michael Bublé is without a doubt one of the world’s greatest and most successful entertainers. He’s been releasing music for over 20 years and his mix of big band covers, interpretations of classic songs and his own originals has been a winning formula that’s turned him into a global icon. After breaking through with his self-titled album in 2003, Bublé has sold millions of records and toured the world several times over, not to mention taken on Mariah Carey for the world’s annual Christmas soundtrack. He released his tenth studio album ‘Love’ in 2018 and now four years on, he’s releasing his eleventh studio album ‘Higher’.
For ‘Higher’, Bublé follows his usual approach incorporating originals alongside covers. Nestled among the familiar songs are four originals including the lead single “I’ll Never Not Love You”, an upbeat and romantic song that hits Bublé’s core audience head on. He’s always had a knack of being able to make his originals sound like instant classics and he continues that trend here. “Baby I’ll Wait”, a song written with a number of co-writers including John Mayer, is a perfect marriage of contemporary rock and classic soul. Bublé’s vocal is super smooth and the instrumentation is uplifting.
The album’s other two originals are the title track ‘Higher’, an uptempo track with a Latin influence, and the beautiful ballad ‘Mother’, which arrives in time for Mother’s Day this weekend in the UK and celebrates the women who brought us into the world. For me, the originals are always the bits I look forward to most on a Bublé record and he doesn’t disappoint here. He showcases a more contemporary side to his abilities and his skill as songwriter, something that often goes unnoticed.
Elsewhere on the record, Bublé has trawled the archives for songs he can put his spin on that fit with his back catalogue and will please his fans. Eleven albums in and you’d think this would get harder but Bublé makes it look effortless. ‘My Valentine’, produced and written by Sir Paul McCartney, is the kind of song that Bublé will perform on a TV show and instantly increase his album sales. McCartney transforms his song into an epic big band number that wouldn’t sound out of place as a theme to a James Bond movie (seriously, why hasn’t Bublé been asked to do one yet?).
Highlights include a gorgeous rendition of Manning Sherwin and Eric Mashwitz’s ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’, an unexpected collaboration with Country legend Willie Nelson on his song ‘Crazy’, and a spectacular version of the Duke Ellington classic “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”. When I saw that ‘Make You Feel My Love’ was on the track list, I admit I sighed a bit as the Bob Dylan favourite has become an Adele standard but Bublé puts a more optimistic spin on it with lighter production and it works.
The album draws to a close with the double whammy of Barry White’s “You’re My First, My Last, My Everything” and the Charlie Chaplin classic ‘Smile’. Both songs are in Bublé’s wheelhouse and while they may not be the strongest tracks here, they should be fun as part of his live shows moving forward.
‘Higher’ is a solid album from Bublé that plays to his strengths and will thrill his fans. Sniffy critics will cry ‘same old, same old’ but Bublé knows what he’s good at, and he’s a master when it comes to his vocals. ‘Higher’ has plenty of potential to return Bublé to his commercial peak and quite honestly, it’s just nice to listen to an album that feels familiar with the warm tone of Bublé’s voice throughout. There’s no one like him in music these days and he’s one of the world’s greatest singers.
Track list: 1. I’ll Never Not Love You 2. My Valentine 3. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square 4. Make You Feel My Love 5. Baby I’ll Wait 6. Higher 7. Crazy (with Willie Nelson) 8. Bring It On Home To Me 9. Don’t Get Around Here Much Anymore 10. Mother 11. Don’t Take Your Love From Me 12. You’re My First, My Last, My Everything 13. Smile Record label: Reprise / Warner Records Release date: 25th March 2022 Buy ‘Higher’ now