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We are in Love is the second album by the talented Jazz singer and actor, Harry Connick Jr, released in 1990, it brought some wonderful reviews including comparisons with Frank Sinatra and other legendary crooners.
Such comparisons are too easy and do justice to neither party, as their voices really don't compare, whilst Sinatra has a silky, ethereal perspective and a rough edge, Connick Jr has a wonderful New Orleans lilt which gives every word he sings jazz and a touch of sparkle. He subsequently followed a career in film and television with shows such as Will and Grace, but I personally think, he has the talent to produce another spectacular album like this which would push him to rightfully to the forefront of this musical genre, as somebody who does more than just croons but includes jazz, honky tonk, soul and blues within his wider repertoire.
The album was multi-platinum and sold over 2 million copies worldwide, it also spawned the single 'Recipe for Love'. The album is beautifully crafted and has an old world charm to it, which means it sounds as fresh today as it did on release and will still sound wonderful in 50 years time. In short, its a timeless classic and I love it.
The album starts with the title track 'We are Love' a song which is beautifully scored and timed, it has wonderful big band backing, its jaunty, sounds like the score to a Cary Grant, Doris Day film and is utterly charming. Lyrically the song is an old fashioned romance with tinges of humour and charm. The song includes bossa nova, jazz and enough horns to make the Jorvik Viking appreciation society jealous. Harry's voice is beautiful on this tune, its like an instrument with that easy southern drawl he absolutely stuns us with this starting tune. Romantic, funny and a whirlwind of a song, it's the kind of song you fall in love to and it can follow you through life, beautiful, timeless and fun.
'Only Cause I Don't have you' sets a completely different tone, with low key strings and trumpets, it starts at a whisper, the score is gorgeous, flowing and overwhelming as Harry sadly croons about missing his beloved, the lyrics are stunning, its slow, melancholy and achingly beautiful, this song is wonderful, as he talks of making killing looks at his mirror to make up for the one thing he wants, the song stirs at points and drops at others, this is a song about missing someone after a breakup, it isn't the best song on the album, but it is still brilliant, still utterly listenable and still fits the album perfectly. The voice is perfectly weighted to the song, never too much, with hints of vulnerability, undertones of biting sarcasm and a real filling of bitter loss.
Recipe for Love was the most popular song on this album, it starts with some New Orleans piano before strings, piano and drums jump in with a bouncy tune about a the recipe for making love, the lyrics are syrupy and make even an old cynical romantic like me grin helplessly, I love the cheesy old lines like 'It doesn't need sugar, cos its already sweet. It doesn't need an oven, cos its got a lot of heat. Just add a dash of kisses to make it all complete, and that's a recipe for making love'. To many it sounds rubbish, but sung in this happy love song it works, it's a beautifully timed love song, great fun, timeless and memorable for all the right reasons.
Drifting is a song that starts slowly and remains so, it meanders along as Harry croons slowly about a woman's heart, it is a lovely song with lush strings, beautiful violins and a swaying rhythm that demands attention, the vocals are hushed and romantic, it's a beautiful song about losing the love of a partner as her eyes and attention drift away, its heart achingly performed and the words really do drill through you if you concentrate, a song for hopeless romantics about loves labour lost.
Forever for Now starts oddly with moody horns and randon pinging of some odd instrument before the fingers click and the cymbals and double bass kick in, this builds to a crescendo as this piece just floats cooly like the best song Frank never sung, it has a weirdly hypnotic pace, they lyrics are strong and the arrangement is quirky and demands further listens, it's a hard song to pigeon hole....so I won't. But its good.
A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square is a jazzy version of the old classic, beautifully sung with gravitas and heart by Harry, this is romance at its most elegant, lyrics about 'Angels dining at the ritz' paint such a lovely picture. As you listen to this, you can't help but smile a little smile and just appreciate this fine wine of a song, beautifully paced, sung and scored, this is faultless.
Heavenly is a fast paced song about the moon, 'the man in the moon is smiling cos he's in love, the man in the moon is smiling cos he's in love with the girl in the world' is the song, about how the girl in the world spins around all day and meets the man in the moon every night without fail and they gaze at each other. It's a silly song with lovely choruses and great lyrics, purely vocal and acapella this is a wicked tune, not generally my cup of tea, this cheesy effort totally charmed me into submission.
Just a Boy is beautiful, it starts with horns reminiscent of a northern brass band, but more sombre, the score is complex and thoughtful, the lyrics match this perfectly. The singer remembers his childhood and how our lives have to change and what we remember, its chorus is catchy and punchy while the song is understated and a perfect contrast to the previous effort.
I've got a great idea starts with a wicked piano solo then Harry growls cooly and soulfully over the piano and drums, it's a romantic song about how a love affair can develop, its got elements of honky tonk in this song, its jazzy and still big band, this is too cool for school and definitely another highlight of the album. It's a beautifully crafted song which hits the spot easily with heart and soul and a lot of funky jazz piano.
I'll dream of you again is beautiful, the start sounds like something from the 50's and is about a guy who wants to go back to sleep to dream of his girl again, the strings are stunning like so many old Busby Berkeley musicals, it invokes a bygone age and the song just continues in this fashion, I love the line 'I spent last night dreaming of your eyes but your head kept getting in the way, your lips dropped in to tell me how you'd been, and when I tried to kiss them, my pillow told me I missed them'. The lyrics are smart and a bit cheesy at the same time, it's a classic love song, the vocals are louche and smart and fit the mood of the music brilliantly. Another highlight for me.
The fastest song on the album the music is lead by the drums as Harry rushes through a song about the wrong face, but nonetheless a lovely face of a woman, its fast paced, got great double bass plumping brilliantly through the tune, I love the change of pace and the upping of the New Orleans in Harry's voice on this, there is much more jazz freestyling from the band which is good too and it has a nice free feel to it, as he encourages band members to join in, nice effort and another highlight.
Quite a depressing song to end the album on, after the speed of the last song, this is almost comatose as it starts really morbidly, it is sad, filled with metaphor and sounds like a funereal song, I love this song, as I've heard it so many times and can hear the vulnerability of the lyrics and the vocals, a good finish, not the best song on the album, but a nice change of pace again.
One thing I love about this album, is the contrast, its not 12 quick songs, nor 12 smoochy efforts, the songs aren't all about being in love, or all about break ups, it's a mix of all areas of love, its fast paced happiness, cynicism about an ex partner, the feeling of watching your lover lose interest, or the feeling that love is the centrepiece of your life, all of these are covered.
The singer never resorts to tricks or emotive actions, he lets the music lead and his voice guides the music to where he wants to be, his voice is measured, assured, mature and funky too. I like his style of big band more than any other living singer, it is easy, languid and stylish but his voice is also incredible, the range is stunning and it is like an instrument.
This album is fun, it could be listened to by a 3 year old who would love the beats or a 70 year old who would love the big band feel (Ok big generalisation as I appreciates nowadays some 70 year olds may be big Def Leppard fans, but!) of the album too. It is a 5 out of 5 without question for me, there isn't a weak song, some aren't as good as others, but are still outstanding in their own right.
This is still for me Connick Jr's best album and in many ways showed the potential he could still achieve, he could be the biggest performer of his kind in the world if he matched or surpassed this stellar album.
Best things about the album:
The fast songs are all singularly brilliant, they bring out Connick Jr's jazzy voice perfectly.
The slow songs are achingly performed and don't miss a beat
The whole concept which doesn't focus on any area of love too much, but on all sides of it
Worst things about the album:
The fast paced songs can outlive the slower songs for some, making them feel empty and redundant
Where can I buy it:
The album is still available for download and in all decent music stores (unfortunately in the digital age, these are becoming harder to come by). The album is available for £3.49 on Amazon which for me is an absolute steal.
Why Should I buy it then clever clogs?
Its a great introduction to the music of Harry Connick Jr and I think is a perfect introduction to Big Band in general. For me its a crime that the guy hasn't been more widely recognised for his talents, he is fun, charming, brilliantly talented as a singer and pianist and I can't think of another crooner who gets close to his overall talent.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 We Are In Love
2 Only 'Cause I Don't Have You
3 Recipe For Love
5 Forever For Now
6 Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square
8 Just A Boy
9 I've Got A Great Idea
10 I'll Dream Of You Again
11 It's All Right With Me
12 Buried In Blue