Newest Review: ... very powerful. I couldn't help but tap my toe all the way through. Laurie has a great voice (even if his range is limited- he knows how and... more
Let Them Talk - Hugh Laurie
Member Name: magenta23
Let Them Talk - Hugh Laurie
Advantages: Quailty songs sung from the heart
Disadvantages: Tom Jones
Hugh 'House' Laurie is a talented actor, comedian, musician. He's handsome, bright and comes across, at least, as a very nice guy. Surely there's got to be something wrong with him?! 'Let Them Talk' is Laurie's debut album and there doesn't seem to be any evidence of him being anything less than perfect here either.
How do I describe 'Let Them Talk?' Well, predictably not half as well as Laurie sums up his adventure into the world of blues. He says "
I was not born in Alabama in the 1890s. You may as well know this now. I've never eaten grits, cropped a share, or ridden a boxcar. No gypsy woman said anything to my mother when I was born and there's no hellhound on my trail, as far as I can judge. Let this record show that I am a white, middle-class Englishman, openly trespassing on the music and myth of the American south"
Let Him Sing...
He may only be 'trespassing' but he sings some of these well established blues songs as if he has his whole life. I was a little sceptical at first and worried a little that it was going to sound like Dr House does karaoke and really thought I'd have a listen out of pure curiosity, which is probably the same for a lot of people who picked this up. Like me, after the first few minutes they'd have forgotten this is Laurie who pranced around in lace and a wig in Blackadder and be fully engrossed in the music.
Of course what we all want is to hear if he can sing, and Laurie keeps us waiting. In the opening song 'St James Infirmary Blues', the vocal only kicks in after a rousing intro of over two and a half minutes. Though, don't think you are listening to his band and Laurie is sitting there having a cup of tea, this highly skilled piano work is that of Laurie himself. Sickening, but brilliant. When we do hear Laurie, this is 'House' Laurie, not English Laurie. A confident American drawl sings the opening lines of 'St James Infirmary Blues' and gives the listener a clear idea of what to expect from this album. While there's lots of criticism of actors moving into the music world, I think Laurie's acting skills are crucial to the albums success. How else would he sing American Blues classics with such conviction?
I first heard 'St James Infirmary Blues' covered by The White Stripes on their debut album and the song had the same overwhelming effect then. Laurie's version is very different but just as engaging. Slower, somehow theatrical yet understated at the same time and long! At a running time of over six minutes, Laurie presents us with a bit of an epic to open with. Brave, I guess we could have all had enough after track one, but not so for me. I wanted more!
I wouldn't say I was that up on my Blues, not that it's a genre I don't like, I'm just not that educated in it. I'm surprised just how many of these tracks I recognised though. Probably a conscious decision of Laurie's not to give us anything to obscure. 'You Don't Know My Mind' is one I knew straight away. It's another great cover, though Laurie sounds like he's enjoying singing it a little to much. This is Blues Hugh!
The mood is brought down to back where it should be for 'Six Cold Feet.' "Remember me darlin', when I'm in six feet of cold cold ground" Laurie croons at us. This one really shows off that he can sing. He's not pushed himself in any songs and the majority are fairly talky in style but just occasionally there's a note or two that makes you raise an eyebrow. 'Six Cold Feet' is a gorgeous chilled and chilling track.
Opening with some more very accomplished piano, 'Buddy Bolden's Blues' starts with Laurie singing with a distinct Sinatra air, but also throws in a bit of comedic talking which reminds us briefly who we're really listening too. A highlight of the album, witty and really 'performed'. Also some amazing saxophone not by Laurie for a change.
'Swannee River' is a little bit of surprise addition, though a stand out track and in complete contrast to the rest it still works. He sounds like he had a ball recording this and it translates to the listener.
'The Whale Swallowed Me' certainly has an attention grabbing title, if not an attention grabbing tune. Back to pure blues and Laurie tells us the story with passion and confidence.
'Police Dog Blues' is an understated track, simplistic musically but a great story that Laurie tells us like he's done it a thousand times.
'Tipitina' is a jazzy song, a little different to most of the other stuff. Lots of instrumental and Laurie shows off his piano skills jamming with the rest of the band. Sounds like he's having a ball.
'Whinin' Boy Blues' and 'Red Hot' are very contrasting tracks. 'Whining Boy Blues' is low key, slow talky and laid back, 'Red Hot' is short sweet fast and witty. Two favourites but very different.
The album closes with the title track 'Let Them Talk' and shows off Laurie's singing voice once again. A very strong close to a very strong album.
There are also a number of collaborations on the album. 'Battle of Jericho' and 'John Henry' featuring Irma Thomas, 'After You've Gone' featuring Dr. John and 'Baby, Please Make a Change' with both Irma Thomas and the cringe worthy Tom Jones. I have to say these collaborations aren't my favourite tracks on the album and I think Laurie performs better alone. 'Battle of Jericho' is mainly because of the song and the backing vocals from Irma Thomas are just fine, it's just a song I don't warm to, almost sounds like a nursery rhyme to me and a little out of place. 'John Henry' is a proper duet and both singers get stuck in, it's ok but a little wishy washy compared to the strength of other tracks. The others I have a problem with simply because they should be billed as Dr. John featuring Hugh Laurie or Tom Jones featuring Hugh Laurie, not the other way round as Laurie takes more than a back seat on these tracks. I bought the album to listen to Hugh Laurie not Tom bloody Jones - get off my stereo. As you can tell I'm not a fan.
Overall a beautiful album. It would seem Hugh Laurie thoroughly enjoyed recording this and his enthusiasm for the music really shows, a little too much at times and for a few songs he sounds a little to happy to be singing the blues. That said I didn't find that took away from my enjoyment of the songs but a true Blues fan my have a problem with this! The collaborations didn't do it for me as much as the solo songs but overall there's not a track on here that really let him down.
This album has overall been received well and has gone gold in the UK and reached the top ten in many other countries. It would seem Mr Laurie can add 'successful recording artist' to his somewhat
More information (and a free song download to give you a taste)
Summary: Let him sing, you won't regret it