Music has been present in Hugh Laurie’s career in some form or another since the days of Fry & Laurie, even working its way into House, the American television series that turned him into an international star in the 2000s. Without House, Laurie would never have been granted the opportunity to record an album like 2011’s Let Them Talk, a full-blooded immersion into American blues via New Orleans, shepherded by acclaimed roots producer Joe Henry and featuring such Big Easy heavy-hitters as Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, and Irma Thomas. To his enormous credit, Laurie never sounds like a dilettante among this group; he holds his own, working his way into the marrow of the songs, playing credible piano throughout the record. Which isn’t to say that he quite makes this selection of standards his own, either. There are reworkings and reinterpretations, “Tipitina” in particular being turned on its head, but the problem with Let Them Talk isn’t the guts and blood of the music, or the slightly studious air Henry cultivates. No, the problem is how Laurie’s blues accent inevitably slides into affectations quite familiar from House. He can’t help it, that’s his American accent, but it’s disarming to have a number cooking along and all of a sudden Princeton Plainsboro’s favorite misanthrope has taken the lead.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
feat: Dr. John
feat: Irma Thomas