I’ve always considered Holly Cole as something of an enigma. She has received critical acclaim verging on adulation for her album “Temptation” where she took a bundle of Tom Waits songs, made them a nice dinner and enslaved them forever to her will. Since that album, or at least since the exquisitely tormented follow up “Dark Dear Heart”, she has proved herself an able interpreter of other people’s songs although, to my ears at least, she seemed to take the easy route too often to provide your ears with much of a challenge.
On “Night” however, Ms Cole goes all quirky on us ably assisted by her long time collaborators David Piltch and Aaron Davis. Although you will undoubtedly recognise all the songs here, you might well be surprised by the liberties taken with them. That’s no bad thing, of course, with, for example, her version of “You Only Live Twice” moved ten blocks uptown from Nancy Sinatra’s original. As for “Viva Las Vegas”, the King’s sweaty, sequin powered anthem is duly reinvented and turned into a veritable lounge lizard swansong of laconically packaged elegance. I didn’t see that coming.
There are more conventional choices on this album too. “I Only Have Eyes For You” is almost too easy a target for a songstress of Ms Cole’s standing and she duly dismisses it with a past midnight twinkle in her eye. Then she rolls the dice and shuffles her way through a surprisingly effective “I Thought Of You Again” before she takes precise aim at your heart with the intense and completely captivating “Love Lies”. Like the man said, when you’re hot, you’re hot.
The more I think about it (and the more I listen to this album) the more I think that a Julie London comparison is in order. They don’t sound remotely similar but they both share an ability to take ownership of any song that was written by the pen of the setting sun. So take a seat, pour yourself a single malt – the most expensive in the house – and put this album on your turntable of love. It won’t be long before you are enslaved to the enchantment that is Holly Cole’s voice.
The 180G pressing was immaculate and the sound quality more than good enough to make you glad you spent some decent money on your hi-fi. As I hold the gatefold sleeve in my hand, I ask myself if I should fall in love with Holly Cole again and, once more, I follow my dear dark heart.