As announced at the Glastonbury Festival back in the summer, Jeff Goldblum has a new album out. ‘I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This’, the follow up to his debut, ‘The Capitol Studios Sessions’, is set for release this Friday, November 1.
Eleven tracks of hot jazz, it opens up with ‘Let’s Face The Music And Dance’, featuring the absolutely sublime vocals of Sharon Van Etten. Goldblum opens with a deep, marching piano, allowing the smooth as silk, vocals of Van Etten to fill the room. They’re joined by the rest of the band, drums played with brushes, gentle guitar…is that a bongo? Then the superb brass bliss of the trumpet takes the stage, followed by a tremulous Wurlitzer organ. Stunning.
Track 2, ‘The Sidewinder’ / ‘The Beat Goes On’ takes us to the Sunset Strip. We’re sitting back in Dino’s Lounge, sipping something smooth, while some hep cats are playing some crazy jazz. Goldblum and Co are magnificent; the vocals of Inara George could be placed in any generation. Close your eyes, and maybe it’s even Cher herself on the stage.
By now we’re so chilled out that we can do with a bit of a shake, and that’s where track 3, ‘Driftin’ comes in. A full instrumental piece, it is a stunning showcase of the talents of Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer gang. It’s a very welcome segue into ‘The Thrill Is Gone’ / ‘Django’, featuring Miley Cyrus. Cyrus’s vocals aren’t as mellifluous as Van Etten, nor as rich and retro as Inara George, but they’re nonetheless perfect for this – it would be easy to forget that she comes from a family steeped in music, and that Dolly Parton is her Godmother. Cyrus is a consumate artist and her inclusion on this album is an exciting move for her. Instrumentally, the brass is the highlight of this song – as much as this album is sold as being Jeff Goldblum’s, it’s really an ensemble production.
‘The Kicker’ raises the tempo, once again takes us back to the 6os, the organ going full scat, challenging the other instruments to keep up. The drums and guitars give it a good go; the piano of course takes its turn. Once again – close your eyes – if you ever opened them of course – and ride along the wave of improv.
Fiona Apple is phenomenal as she launches into track 6, ‘Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me’. Smooth – there’s that word again – but with an edge to her tone. This edge is taken over to the instruments, all of which come together to give a contemporary vibe to the track that’s, not so much *missing* as not felt *necessary*. But with this track – it works.
One thing you notice as you listen to ‘I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This’, is that there’s less of the patter that was so prominent in ‘The Capitol Studios Sessions’. I miss it a little, but in a way it adds to the ensemble feel of this record; I’ve no idea if it’s a conscious decision not to put it in this time around – the first album had been recorded in front of fans, at, as the name gives away, Capitol Studios; this one however was made at Henson Recording Studios, and feels like a whole more serious endeavour.
Track 7, ‘The Cat’, is another instrumental, wholly appropriate for a band of hep cats. Goldblum lets fly on this one, and the Wurlitzer once again leaps into action. This is followed by an energetic mashup of Wes Montgomery’s ‘Four On Six’ and Marianne Faithfull’s ‘Broken English’, elegantly sung by Anna Calvi, whose voice caresses the listener’s ears. It’s a more modern sound than the previous tracks, but it works.
‘If I Knew Then’ is perhaps my favourite track on the entire album. Gina Saputo uses her voice as an instrument indistinguishable from those in the orchestra. It’s short and sweet, not even 2 minutes long; but it’s stunning.
There’s only two tracks on this album with male singers – the penultimate track, ‘Make Someone Happy’, is sung by Gregory Porter, and the final song, ‘Little Man, You’ve Had A Busy Day’, is sung by Goldblum himself. Gregory Porter is the man whom Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra can thank for being able to record these albums. When Porter sang on The Graham Norton Show in 2017, he asked Goldblum to accompany him. An executive from Decca Records – with whom Porter is also signed – saw the show, and made sure Goldblum was signed to their books.
Given all this – it’s wonderful to hear Porter on this album. We’ve used mellifluous before in this review, but we shall use it again. Porter’s vocals are indeed honeyed. There’s also a lot more prominent piano in this track than in most of the others, which is more than nice. We quite enjoyed the male backing vocalists as well.
As mentioned, we at last get to hear Goldblum’s vocals on the final track, ‘Little Man, You’ve Had A Busy Day’. The father of two young boys, it’s easy to imagine Jeff singing his sons to sleep with this one. Originally recorded in 1934, it’s been covered by no fewer than 14 artists since then – including Paul Robeson, Bing Crosby, Perry Como, and even Eric Clapton. Goldblum’s rendition is a worthy addition, his languid vocals as long and drawn out as the man himself.
‘I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This’, by Jeff Goldblum And The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra’, is out this Friday, November 1, through Decca Records.