Ronnie Milsap

Summer Number Seventeen

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Ronnie Milsap closed out his golden decade by turning into something of an oldies crooner, reaching the pop charts for one last time in 1985 with "Lost in the Fifties Tonight," an unabashed slice of nostalgia that interpolated the Five Satins' doo wop classic "In the Still of the Night." That tune was nearly 30 years old in 1985 and, some 30 years later, Milsap revives "Lost in the Fifties Tonight" for 2014's Summer Number Seventeen, a record that unabashedly celebrates the '50s in the fashion of Ronnie's '80s. Milsap bends the rules slightly, finding space for '60s Motown (Jimmy Ruffin's "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted") and '70s Philly soul (the Stylistics' "You Make Me Feel Brand New"), but this is still super-smooth adult contemporary fueled by his gossamer electric piano and grounded by his still supple croon. Apart from "Georgia on My Mind," which is a bit funkier than expected, and the inclusion of the newly written title track (a swaying, slow-dance bit of mythologizing of sweet teenage summers), there's nothing surprising in either the song selection or presentation but if there were, that'd go against the very spirit of this project. Summer Number Seventeen is supposed to comfort and soothe, to bring back rose-colored memories of any number of possible pasts, and in that regard it succeeds handsomely.

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