Sunday, July 24, 2016

Babou-For Once In My Life (2005)


Continuing to make new connections on the Danish pop front since my 'FUMBLE recovery' from this past Friday, I got acquainted today with yet another amazing talent from the New Millennium phenomenon that is and has become musical reality television. His name is Babou, the descendant of a Danish mother and a Gambian father born in 1994. Which means that, upon releasing his first full-length studio album, "For Once In My Life", back in 2005, Babou was only.....TEN YEARS OLD??!! Wow—that's quite the remarkable accomplishment! It's not so uncommon for pre-adolescents to achieve stardom in the music business; I just don't take the opportunity to experience and witness some of that pre-adolescent music stardom too often. In fact, according to my knowledge, the then-ten-year-old Babou just may be the youngest artist ever to receive the featured spotlight here at "The Music Spectrum". The kid may sound like a ten-year-old—bringing to mind acts like the earliest incarnations of THE JACKSON 5, HANSON and NEW EDITION—but every song he covers is delivered in the most mature manner. I was already sold on this kid the moment my ears took in "Goin' Back To Indiana", a JACKSON 5 hit that I'd never known about before until today, but will now look forward to hearing in its original format, having heard this stellar remake with Babou's amazing voice and its contemporary retro-pop pizzazz. I got all kins of excited in anticipation of the one right afterwards: "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go". Terrific rendition of the WHAM! classic, a song that makes the transition to contemporary retro-pop well because of its dancey, bouncy arrangement, which had even sounded retro when it was recorded way back in the 80's. And I like how Babou 'hits that high' (to coin some of this classic's memorable lyrics) vocally with the soaring high note on 'high' just like George did to perfection in the memorable chorus. "Love Is All Around": I've always been so fond of the 1995 remake by WET WET WET, but even Marti Pellow and company will be impressed by this easy-flowing acoustic guitar-driven rendition, which is a very mature effort mastered by this kid so well. At that point, I'd fully expected the sensational Babou and his contemporary retro-pop style to excel on all of the Motown hits; those expectations were exceeded in his revivals of THE FOUR TOPS' "I Can't Help Myself", "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (the perfect closeout to this album!) and Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours", a Motown golden oldie that's always been a goodie—so uplifting and so full of soul! The Stevie Wonder tribute extends deeper with a marvelous of both the title track, which I've heard only a few times in my own life (I enjoy the triumphant feeling I get from the lyrics telling about somebody finally needing him, even if it's just for one time only), then an even more marvelous rendition (and surprise!) of Stevie Wonder's collaboration with 98° on "True To Your Heart", which was featured on the soundtrack to the Disney animated film, "Milan". On both songs, hearing the harmonica accompanying the music made me smile; the songs somehow would not have been 'true' to themselves without Stevie's iconic instrument added to the mix. "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word": I'm sure I've heard the Elton John classic several times, but don't recall it very well; it's another fine and ambitious effort nonetheless, as is his beautifully tender delivery of Lionel Richie's "Stuck On You", which became stuck on me as one of my top personal favorites! "Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday": I first fell in love with this song when I heard the cover by British actor Darren Day on his self-titled debut album a few years back.....and I find Babou's take on it to be just as lovely, still liking the title and the concept of the 'yester-' prefix referring to everything from the past. "On A Long Lonely Night": Had never heard of this one either, but I'm down for hearing the original recording of this one, too. I love the overall touching charm and intimacy of the lyrics, plus the soothing flow of the music altogether, accented by an electrifying saxophone break midway through (that's the jazz lover in me talking again!). So much talent presented by this Danish kid here, but curiously, only this one album to show for it? Somehow, I don't believe that "For Once In My Life" will end up as only a once in a lifetime music deal for him:

1. Goin' Back To Indiana
2. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
3. Love Is All Around
4. I Can't Help Myself
5. Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday
6. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
7. On A Long Lonely Night
8. Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours
9. True To Your Heart
10. For Once In My Life
11. Stuck On You
12. Ain't No Mountain High Enough

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