CD Review: Lexington

Lexington Herald-Leader
Posted on Fri, Oct. 17, 2003

There are moments on Songbook when it’s tough to accept that Midler is actually the one singing. A vocalist of great sensitivity who often loses her way in tacky camp, Midler is on good behavior here. Part of the reason, tough as it is to admit, is a reunion with Barry Manilow as a producer. More than 30 years ago, Manilow produced Midler’s first two albums, before his own career as one of pop’s more maudlin stylists erupted. The tribute takes a few risks, as in its placing of breezy banjo by country/bluegrass great Herb Pederson alongside synthesized whistles on This Ole House. Tenderly, with more expected orchestration, will please Clooney die-hards. Not everything works. The Midler/Manilow duet on Slow Boat to China is total corn. The swing on In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening sounds oddly stiff. Still, it’s been ages since Ms. M has sounded anywhere near this divine.

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