Picks and Pans Review: Unforgettable

Natalie Cole

Like father, like daughter—when the subject is singing and the father was Nat “King” Cole, the daughter is in for a big compliment.

This 22-track album by Cole, 41, contains songs that her father, who died in 1965, recorded during his memorable career in the ’40s and ’50s. But the daughter, while paying homage to her father, doesn’t try to copy him. Her vocal style is as much a swinging original as her dad’s was, containing hints of her pop R&B background as well as a Dinah Washington way with an inflection.

The overdubbed version of the title track, with Cole essentially singing a duet with her late father, has the same vaguely ghoulish feel that Hank Williams Jr.’s recording of “A Tear in My Beer” “with” his father had in 1989.

Most of the production, though (Cole co—executive produced with Tommy LiPuma), is faultless. The schmaltzy tunes of Nat’s late career—”Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer,” for instance—are avoided, while such great tunes as “Lush Life” and “Straighten Up and Fly Right” are included. So are such mainstream hits as “Mona Lisa” and “Too Young.”

Unlike her father, Natalie doesn’t play piano. (Not that many other people play it as well as he did.) So there’s a corps of pianists, including Cole’s uncle, Ike Cole, backing her up in both orchestral and trio settings.

While the music is best in smaller group formats, Cole sings these songs with verve, confidence and apparent pleasure. They’re a joy—as contemporary and full of life in Natalie’s affectionate care now as they were 40 years ago. (Elektra)

Related Articles