Glenn Frey reaches new listeners in his interpretation of classic popular songs.
Classic love songs
“After Hours” is Glenn Frey’s fifth studio album and the first in 20 years. The album includes 11 songs (14 songs on the Deluxe Edition), most of them classic love songs from the 1920s to the present day. Many, but not all, come from an American repertoire of jazz and blues standards. For those who have followed Frey since the 1970s, this album comes as no surprise. Detroit-born Frey, founding member of the Eagles, a style-setting band from the 70s, has always been inspired by soul and blues. “After Hours” is an album that’s been waiting to happen.
The tunes on the album were previously recorded by other well-known artists. These are popular songs with a solid history. Glenn Frey has undoubtedly the credibility to tackle this classic repertoire. Frey’s voice is well-suited to the romantic songs, as well as his personal style. He sings them with respect to the original recordings and with his heart on his sleeve.
Vocal styles of jazz and blues are often more dynamic, nuanced and idiomatic compared to rock. Frey manages the shift effortlessly, the result being a rich and reflective interpretation – this time without his guitar as a safety net.
Glenn Frey and producers Michael Thompson and Richard Davis, collaborating with sound technician Elliot Scheiner, have created a remarkably warm and elegant soundtrack. Despite the contemporary sound, the album points to the history of the songs. Due to the wise choices made by the producers, the soundtrack is organic and the arrangements intimate and balanced.
The opening track For Sentimental Reasons, originally recorded by Nat King Cole, was the number one hit single on the Billboard chart in 1946. It was later recorded by a number of other artists, most notably Ella Fitzgerald. The song succeeds in setting the tone for the album. Frey strikes a collective, harmonious chord, from For Sentimental Reasons to the closing After Hours, lending the album a holistic quality.
My Buddy and I’m Getting Old Before My Time have both been waiting for novel interpretations. The former dates back to 1922 and was recorded by Dr. John and Chet Baker, among others, while Dinah Washington recorded the latter. The mesmerizing My Buddy is a sad love song and is said to be adopted during World War II as a song about male camaraderie among the allied troops. Frey chose these two songs carefully. He masters the smooth jazz format well, and the result is a long-awaited recording of both songs.
Enchants the listener
(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66 was written by musician and actor Bobby Troup in 1946 on a road trip across the country to California. The tune soon became a hit for Nat King Cole. Now the song is an American institution and has immortalized the famous route from Chicago to L.A. Frey enchants his audience in his seductive video.
The Shadow Of Your Smile from the film “The Sandpiper” from 1964 was made famous by Barbra Streisand, and later recorded by Tony Bennett and Shirley Bassey, among others. A beautiful, sentimental tune treated with care by Frey. One of the finest tracks on the album.
The optimistic and cabaret-inspired hymn Here’s To Life was recorded by jazz singer Shirley Horn in 1991 and also made famous by Barbra Streisand on her jazz album “Love is the Answer” from 2009. Frey opens up the song magnificently and delivers with the depth of a poet.
The song It’s Too Soon To Know topped the rhythm and blues chart in 1948. Frey was perhaps inspired by Linda Ronstadt’s version from her “Winter Light” album. It was Ronstadt who gave the young Glenn Frey a spot in her touring band in 1970 and brought him upfront on stage. It’s Too Soon to Know has an undefined country rock sound, which suits them both.
The Look Of Love was recorded by Dusty Springfield for the James Bond film Casino Royal in 1967, inspired by actress Ursula Andress. While Diana Krall’s interpretation is transparent and distinct, Frey’s version has a particular good beat and the song is one of the album’s highlights.
In the contours of the classics
The Beach Boys were a vital source of inspiration for Glenn Frey in the late 60s when he moved from Detroit to L.A. (One of the four Bs to shape both the Eagles and L.A. rock: The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Flying Burrito Brothers). The song Caroline, No by Brian Wilson fits neatly in the album. Though Wilson’s version is hard to surpass, Frey holds the song up to the light and offers his own excellent interpretation. Superb orchestration. A gem of a song!
Frey has included Randy Newman’s Same Girl from Newman’s album “Trouble in Paradise” – a sad, simple, but lovely song about a drug addicted girl living on the street. Frey and Newman have something in common; both have the ability to arrange and sing songs that are so stark, still and romantic you could hear a pin drop.
Both songs are essential to the album, balancing it out and placing the newer songs in the contours of the classics.
The Deluxe Edition of the album contains another three tracks: Worried Mind, I Wanna Be Around and The Good Life. Frey’s version of the melodic Worried Mind, recorded by Ray Charles, among others, has a distinct country sound. The lyrics of The Good Life, a Tony Bennet staple song, from the film “Seven Deadly Sins” stand out in particular: “It’s the good life to be free and explore the unknown/Like the heartaches when you learn you must face them alone.” Few artists can sing these words with more credence than Frey.
The well-known hit I Wanna Be Around written by Johnny Mercer in 1962 is another Tony Bennett classic, found in the soundtrack from “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”. Frey is more reflective than the extroverted Tony Bennett. He brings out the nuances from the composition in an admirable way.
The striking title track After Hours was written by songwriting duo Glenn Frey & Jack Tempchin. This is the album’s epilogue, written by a man who reflects on his past and lost love: “People used to dance here after hours/Wrapped around each other in a song/Every now and then, so very long ago/Doesn't really seem so long”. The song contains exquisite lyrics about sentimental longing: “Driving up at midnight, ladies dressed in fur/When I see the quiet street, I always think of her/Not the way she is now, but the way that she was then/Sometimes you can't go back again.”
The song is reminiscent of the album “The Allnighter”, relating the classic songs to Frey’s own material. The track After Hours is Frey’s sentimental homage to the music of his parents’ generation, when the tunes from this album were pop songs and hits.
Glenn Frey will be reaching new listeners with his album “After Hours”. Undoubtedly the album is a transformational one for Frey. It will be interesting to see how this album influences his future work. This album is recommended for those already familiar with the repertoire, and for newer listeners in need of an introduction.