The concept of Songs of Cinema, Michael Bolton's 2017 album -- which happened to coincide with the release of his Netflix television special Michael Bolton's Big, Sexy Valentine's Day Special -- is simple enough: Bolton picks ten songs from films and sings them. As it turns out, the execution is slightly trickier. With one notable exception -- "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," from 1939's The Wizard of Oz -- Bolton doesn't choose songs that were actually premiered in a film, preferring to pick songs that showed up in a film years after they were first written or recorded. As such, Songs of Cinema doesn't really feel like a collection of songs from the movies. Rather, it just plays like a collection of oldies, with Bolton singing such familiar tunes as "When a Man Loves a Woman," "Stand by Me," "I've Got a Woman," "I Will Always Love You," "Old Time Rock and Roll," and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." The production is rather chintzy, which has the inadvertent effect of emphasizing how Bolton is relatively restrained here. He's also in good humor, doing a new version of Lonely Island's "Jack Sparrow" -- here presumably because it's about Johnny Depp's character from Pirates of the Caribbean, as it's not from any film -- and that, along with his Valentine's Day special, shows Bolton doesn't take himself too seriously. That spirit extends through the rest of the record, all of which is played straight but lacking the bombast of his earliest hits. This relatively light touch is welcome and gives Songs of Cinema its appeal.
Songs of Cinema Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine