Dion

Déjà Nu

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A major influence on artists as varied as roots rocker Dave Edmunds, Lou Reed, and Bruce Springsteen (two of whose Lucky Town songs he covers here), Dion effectively mixes his tough yet delicate city-styled street corner harmonies with basic Chuck Berry chords to produce evocative tunes that, although embedded in the echoes of his youth, bubble with a soothing, low-key effervescence. Dion's perennially youthful voice delightfully swoops and swirls on the autobiographical "In New York City" and the Everly Brothers-styled "Hey Suzy," but it's on the Springsteen tracks, especially the beautiful a cappella ballad "If I Should Fall Behind," which seems like it was written with this arrangement in mind, that the concept fully clicks. The band chugs behind him with shabby charm, the backing vocalists are warm and subtle, the sound sparsely clean, and the album cruises along like a shiny '50s convertible primed on hi-test. Some of these songs, like the magnificent opener "Shu Bop (The Lost Track)," although retro in concept, sound lean and fresh with little of the stylized production of the doo wop era. Dion sings with the joyous vitality of his youth throughout, making the appropriately named Deja Nu one of the best, and most fully realized, albums of his extensive yet uneven career.

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