CD Review: Barbara Lusch “Rock Me Sweet”

Posted: October 7, 2014 in Music
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Over the years, there have been many people who have gone in the direction of reinventing songs from different eras. Artists like Rod Stewart, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra even Pat Boone with his In a Metal Mood release have all created albums that pay tribute to other time periods while bringing that era’s music into the present day. Granted, they have given the songs new life by doing jazz interpretations of those songs, but the music lives again because of those reinterpretations.

Portand, Oregon’s Barbara Lusch is the latest artist to create a Songbook-style release of older tracks. Having already released several albums of music before, Lusch kept to the jazz music of certain time periods and simply recorded new versions of those tunes. This time, she went in the same direction as Stewart, Bennett and Sinatra and created an album of reinterpretations. The music being reinterpreted on the new release is songs from the 1980s. Each and every track on Lusch’s new release of Rock Me Sweet brings back memories of the eighties while taking each track in a much more jazzy direction.

While Barbara Lusch is the main focal point of the release, the Rock Me Sweet album from Barbara Lusch comes to life with the help of Earl Rose who adds the strings to the music on the release. Rose also gives the release its magic through his production quality. Throughout the eleven tracks that make up the album, the music maintains a certain amount of jazzy feel.

Rock Me Sweet by Barbara Lusch begins with the Bruce Springsteen song “Dancing in the Dark”. The piano-based version of the song slows the pace of the song down quite a bit. The slower tempo may not be the greatest for Rock fans but it is great for slow dances. The vocal delivery from Lusch gives the lyrics the sensual feeling that they should have had all along. This new arrangement of the song feels just as natural as the original version from The Boss himself.

The new album from Barbara Lusch continues with the song “Hot Blooded”. Originally recorded by the band Foreigner, the track was one of the heaviest rockin’ songs of the eighties. With Lusch’s version of the song, she takes the track and turns into a great jazz track. The song feels as if it had been written specifically for the Middle of the Road music fans. The soulful delivery to the lyrics by Lusch feels like the vocal equivalent of a wink and a flexing of the finger to entice the listener.

While many of the tracks included on Rock Me Sweet by Barbara Lusch are instantly recognizable, perhaps the most unusual song on the release is the David Bowie song “Cat People”. Having been taken from the soundtrack to the movie of the same name, “Cat People” the track once had a strong New Wave feel. Now the version by features a lot of strings to help create a musical approach that features a lot of classical feeling and the strings on the song give the song a lot of emotion.

One of the most beautiful arrangements on the album belongs to the U2 song “Where the Streets Have No Names”. The unusually slow pace of the music mixed with the strings that add a nice orchestral sound to the track. The arrangement of the music takes the song in a different direction than the original version and still keeps a certain familiarity to the song. The song ends up being easily one of the best tracks on Rock Me Sweet.

Rock Me Sweet by Barbara Lusch is one of the best and most original cover albums to be created in a long time. After listening to the entire album, you will find a new appreciation for jazz arrangements as the song included in this release sound very good having been done in a jazz setting. You will also long to hear the original songs once again…for old time’s sake.

Reviewer: Matheson Kamin Rating: **** (four stars)

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