The Sinatra Project, Vol. II: The Good Life
Michael Feinstein’s 2008 recording The Sinatra Project juxtaposed latter-day Sinatra-styled arrangements onto songs that were recorded earlier in the legend’s career. Working once again with veteran arranger Bill Elliot on this dynamic follow-up release, Feinstein opts for a different approach. This disc, says the singer and pianist, is more about “Sinatra and his friends.”
Indeed, Feinstein has spiced this 12-track outing with a few songs that Sinatra never recorded, including the lovely and very obscure Duke Ellington tune “C’est Comme Ça” (from the 1966 Broadway flop Pousse Café) and the saucy “Thirteen Women,” the original A-side of Bill Haley’s 1954 hit “Rock Around the Clock.” While many listeners might consider the inclusion of “Thirteen Women” quite a stretch for any sort of Sinatra tribute album, Feinstein clearly sees the song as relevant to the project at hand.
Vol. II is also notable for tunes Sinatra recorded but that are usually associated with peers like Ray Charles (a horn-drenched swing through “Hallelujah I Love Her So”), Dean Martin (a dreamy, tropical “Sway”) and Tony Bennett (the spare and intimate title cut). Sinatra fans will likely gravitate first to more predictable numbers like “The Way You Look Tonight” and “The Lady Is a Tramp,” which Feinstein renders faithfully. His Broadway medley of “Luck Be a Lady”/”All I Need Is the Girl” joins two familiar songs in a unique, thematic way.
The choice of material and arrangements here will likely generate a lot of discussion, but Feinstein’s performances demonstrate a sense of love and respect that is beyond debate. He can be bold, commanding and occasionally overpowering, but the gentle, heartbreaking quality of his voice on stripped-down fare such as “I’ll Be Around” ultimately has more emotional impact.