Engelbert Humperdinck

Let There Be Love

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Let There Be Love is an Engelbert Humperdinck album that the 68-year-old singer recorded in August and September 2004 and released in March 2005. It seems worth pointing this out at the start because a potential buyer easily could think it's just another compilation. True, there is a sticker on the shrink wrap that reads, "Brand new album of classic love songs," but it then adds confusingly "plus 3 new tracks." Actually, all of the tracks are new; the point the sticker is trying to make is that three of the songs are previously unheard compositions being introduced by Humperdinck on the disc, while the rest are his versions of familiar tunes. Also, the album is being released on Universal's Hip-O label, which specializes in compilations. But beyond these marketing misfires, it can be difficult to distinguish new Humperdinck from old Humperdinck simply because he does pretty much the same thing every time out, croon love songs in his rich, easy tenor. The emphasis here is on a small band -- piano, guitar, bass, drums -- albeit with occasional augmentation by synth programming and other instruments (plus strings, of course), and that puts the focus more squarely on the singer. The song choices range across the decades with no particular regard to the stylistic upheavals popular music has undergone from, say, 1924, when "It Had to Be You" first became a hit, to 1995, when Bryan Adams topped the charts with "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" Nor does it matter whether a song originated in R&B ("Stand By Me") or country ("When You Say Nothing at All"): Humperdinck and arranger Dave Hartley smooth over all differences. And sometimes they find a natural, such as Nick Lowe's "You Inspire Me," which may be one of the more recent compositions but sounds like it comes from 50-years-earlier. None of the new songs sound like automatic additions to the Humperdinck songbook, even though the singer seems more animated when singing them, particularly "Three Words Ain't Enough." At his age, there's no telling how many new recordings he will release; he ought to have his record label make more of a point of not confusing his fans when he does.

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