October 23, 2006 12:00 PM

Leavin’
REVIEWED BY CHUCK ARNOLD

R&B/POP

Since Natalie Cole’s 1991 smash Unforgettable: With Love, her Grammy-winning tribute to her father, Nat King Cole, her musical output of jazz and pop standards has been that of a very sophisticated lady. So it’s great to hear Cole ditch the evening-gown fare on her new CD, on which she covers more contemporary material by artists ranging from Aretha Franklin to Sting. A clearly reenergized Cole ignites Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” with a soulful fire, while working up some righteous indignation as she takes Shelby Lynne’s “Leavin'” to church. Perhaps the best moment, though, comes at the end of “The More You Do It (The More I Like It Done to Me)”—Cole’s retro-R&B salute to the late Marvin Yancy, her first husband and early collaborator—when she breaks into a little bit of her own hit “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love).”

DOWNLOAD THIS: “Leavin'”

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