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CD: Kylie - The Abbey Road Sessions | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Kylie - The Abbey Road Sessions

CD: Kylie - The Abbey Road Sessions

Ms Minogue reinvents her back catalogue with an orchestra and no little style

Kylie: strings attached

There is, of course, something inherently disagreeable in the notion that a great modern pop song is like some grubby Eliza Doolittle, secretly longing to be smartened up and made respectable by the tasteful accoutrements of strings, a sensible arrangement and a more stately rate of BPMs.

The appropriate response to the news that Kylie Minogue has given the crown jewels from her back catalogue the Pygmalion treatment is to groan, yet what appears iffy in concept actually works rather well in practice.

The first bit of good news is that the orchestra is a Trojan horse which allows for generally thoughtful and often quite radical reinterpretations. “Slow” is rendered almost dubby, its thick, spacey rhythm oddly reminiscent of One Dove. “Hand on Your Heart” is truly lovely, a tumbling acoustic sunset song full of ache and shuffling drums. Probably wisely, the orchestra is left to do the heavy lifting on “I Should Be So Lucky”, transformed here into a sweeping film theme

The second positive is that Minogue's distinctive nasal twang - always an asset; we have plenty of ballsy female belters, but who else sounds like Kylie? - has evolved into a surprisingly assured instrument, capable of not only conveying the inner meaning of a song but, increasingly, finding the blue notes. “Never Too Late” becomes a quietly dramatic Broadway valediction, convincingly tinged with gin and regret, and “Confide in Me” a tingling marriage of the exotic and erotic (but then it always was).

So much for the good news. There are times when the act of reinvention seems gratuitous, like scraping off all the sparkle from a glitterball simply to see what exact shade of grey lies underneath. “Better the Devil You Know” suggests Minogue has seen The Fabulous Baker Boys one time too many; turning it into a piano torch song replaces the delicious mischief of the original with something much less vital. “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” bets the farm on a sharp, insistent string figure, but Kylie's uranium-grade pop classic scarcely requires a dinner party makeover.

The missteps, however, are outweighed by the successful and surprising transformations. Oh, and there’s the inevitable new song, called “Flower”. It’s OK, but not as OK as the rest of the album, which is really pretty good.

We have plenty of ballsy female belters, but who else sounds like Kylie?

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Average: 4 (1 vote)

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