Peggy Lee

If You Go

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In form, Peggy Lee's fall 1961 studio LP If You Go is a concept album in which the theme, as suggested by the title, is love that doesn't work out. Over the course of 12 songs, the singer begins as a romantic philosopher ("As Time Goes By"), then immediately begins to worry that her love affair may be in trouble ("If You Go"). Soon, her fears are confirmed ("Say It Isn't So"). By the start of the second half, she is trying to accommodate herself to separation ("I'm Gonna Laugh You Out of My Life"), but by the end she has acknowledged the pain ("Here's That Rainy Day") and returned to philosophy with her hard-won wisdom about romance ("Smile"). It sounds like a formula for sad, string-filled arrangements from, say, Gordon Jenkins or Axel Stordahl, but the man writing the charts here is Quincy Jones, and he is only occasionally interested in underscoring the heartbreak with suitably sad music. He does write for strings and horns on such songs as "I Wish I Didn't Love You So" and "I'm Gonna Laugh You Out of My Life," but just as often he pairs Lee with a small exotic group with prominent flute lines, a guitar playing arpeggios, and syncopated Latin percussion played in easy rhythms. That's how he accompanies "If You Go," "Maybe It's Because (I Love You Too Much)," and "I Get Along Without You Very Well," for instance. The effect is of a heartbroken woman who may be drowning her sorrows in a bar in Brazil instead of walking in the rain. Lee responds to the music with a world-weary tone, but an occasional swing in her step, as if this is not her first romance, nor her first one to go wrong.

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