Very few things in music cause a surprise anymore. Lacuna Coil getting heavier on their last few studio albums was a pleasant surprise, as was Halestorm bringing the heavy on new album ‘Back From The Dead’. The 1975 still releasing music and selling out arenas, however, not-so-pleasant a surprise. With the release of his brand new album, Alter Bridge and Tremonti guitarist/vocalist Mark Tremonti delivers three surprises. First of all, it’s a Frank Sinatra covers album, secondly, it comes as a total surprise just how good a job Tremonti does in bringing the songs of The Chairman Of The Board to a whole new audience, and last of all, my God, it is uncanny how close to Sinatra’s voice Mark Tremonti’s actually is. If you hear Buble singing Sinatra, you know it is Buble. Likewise, when Robbie Williams released his ‘Swing When You’re Winning’ album of crooner covers, you knew it was the ex-Take That cheeky chap singing. With ‘Tremonti Sings Sinatra’, there are moments where you could be forgiven for thinking that it is Old Blue Eyes himself singing.
‘Tremonti Sings Sinatra’ is being released as part of a new charity initiative created by Mark Tremonti called Take A Chance For Charity. Proceeds from the album will support a cause very close to Mark’s heart; the National Down Syndrome Society and the work they do to advocate for and support individuals with Down syndrome and their families. Mark and his family were blessed to welcome their first daughter Stella last March – who was born with Down syndrome – and the idea for the project was born. A video sharing the very personal story of Take A Chance For Charity and behind-the-scenes clips can be seen here.
With the seal of approval from the Sinatra Estate, and with Sinatra’s band-leader Mike Smith at the helm (along with some surviving members of Sinatra’s touring band) Mark Tremonti has not tinkered with the material or added any modern touches. Instead, it’s mostly one-take performances with everyone right there together in the same studio, the way albums used to be made. And it sounds magnificent. The production is incredible, and on several occasions, the horns really pop out, especially on the mesmerizing soft tones of ‘I Fall In Love Too Easily’ – which anyone that grew up with MGM musicals playing on non-stop rotation will of course recognize from 1945’s ‘Anchors Away’ movie, the one with Gene Kelly dancing with Jerry from Tom & Jerry. Mixed in with the staples that you might expect such as ‘My Way’, ‘That’s Life’, ‘Fly Me To The Moon’, and ‘Come Fly With Me’, are deeper dives into the vast Sinatra catalog such as the smooth Jazz vibes of ‘Wave’. Written by the king of Bossa Nova himself Antônio Carlos Jobim, on ‘Wave’ Tremonti sounds like he is having an absolute blast recreating the famous low notes that Sinatra produced as he sang the line “Together” and held the note for a few seconds as he elongated the R. With the cool-breeze feel of the track, it’s easy to find yourself playing it over and over repeatedly. ‘Nancy (With The Laughing Face)’ is another Sinatra track that might not be as familiar as the big-hitters, but given the nature and the backstory of the track (written by Phil Silvers of Sgt. Bilko fame), it makes perfect sense for Mark Tremonti to cover it for his beloved daughter Stella and it is one of the standout moments on the album.
The biggies of course feature, and it’s to Tremonti’s credit that the Grammy-winning face-melter resists the temptation to go overboard on ‘My Way’, instead. reigning it in with a wonderfully restrained performance that never strays anywhere near karaoke territory. ‘You Make Me Feel So Young’ is great fun, especially when Tremonti emphasizes the classic line “Pickin’ up lots of forget-me-nots” and anyone unfamiliar with Tremonti’s vocal prowess might be surprised by the last few notes that he carries off with great aplomb. ‘Luck Be A Lady’ (from the ‘Guys And Dolls’ movie) makes you want to snap your fingers in time as this incredible bunch of musicians whisk the listener back to the glory days of The Sands.
Cast off any inhibitions you might have about a Frank Sinatra covers album and just go with the flow, it’s nigh-on impossible not to be swept up by the enthusiasm and sheer joy on display throughout the fourteen tracks. And Tremonti certainly can sing Sinatra.
Available on multiple formats on May 27th, more information here.
Review – Dave
Read our interview with Mark Tremonti, here.
Mark Tremonti in Frank Sinatra’s Dressing Room – Photo Credit: Chuck Brueckmann
Live image – Photo Credit: Rob Wilkins