Friday, June 19, 2009

Out Of The Bleu...

With all of the music I'm exposed to and the breadth of it, it's no real surprise that I sometimes come late to the party. It happened with Bleu, an extraordinarily talented singer/songwriter that has a new album coming out on July 14th (that's 2009). Bleu was one of those under the radar performers that kept showing up in and on other records that I'd been listening to. We all know what an admirer of Mike Viola's I am and the first time I remember hearing of Bleu was when Mike mentioned he was doing some work on a project called L.E.O. and then another side project called The Major Labels. I quickly investigated the L.E.O. project (The Major Labels was a bit further into the future) and was delighted that the project, entitled "Alpacas Orgling", was a nod to the work of Jeff Lynne. That is, none of the material involved cover songs, but the entire project was Jeff Lynne/ELO flavored. The album was great (especially for a rabid Jeff Lynne fan like myself) and I was further amused to find Bleu had stuck in a little drawing into the disc packaging.

Of course, we all know what I think of the Major Labels (and I'm electrified that Mike had just announced the followup ML album, tentatively titled, "TML4EVA"!) and I've been consistently surprised finding Bleu turning up on records that I'd already loved, like Hanson's "The Walk" and Puffy's "Splurge" album. So, it was a nice surprise when Bleu's people invited me to have a listen to the album and tell y'all about it.

The new disc is entitled "A Watched Pot" and I think it may be a nod to the fact that it was recorded 4 years ago under the auspices of Sony Records, who promptly shelved the record. It's taken until late last year for Bleu to get the rights back to the album and it's release is now being handled by Fontana Distribution.

Upon first listen, I admit I wasn't quite prepared. Having listened to L.E.O. and The Major Labels (and not having heard his previous two solo ventures) I thought I'd be plowing headlong into a power pop explosion. Instead, I was treated to an eclectic mix of sounds both contemporary and classic. The album lies astride the pop music pantheon from the Countryish Pop of the lead off track Save Me, What Now? and the lyrically rich Boy Meets Girl (featured on the latest "Shockedelic Radio Show"!), through the modern light rock of "Come 'N Go" and into the proper Soul sounds of I Won't Fuck You Over (This Time) and What Kind Of Man Am I?.

There's a fully blown eruption of Jeff Lynne-ism on There's No Such Thing As Love and, in a righteous world, the Explosive Motown blast of Kiss Me would be blaring from every transistor radio in the world. It's pure AM gold. The track Go felt awfully familiar and it took me a while to figure out I'd heard it before on Hanson's "The Walk" album. Another highlight of the album is a wonderful duet with Sandra McCracken on When The Lights Go Out that climaxes with a counterpoint vocal that hides forever in the crevices of the mind.

While the songs are uniformly good and authentic to the styles they belong to, it's the vocals that make "A Watched Pot" an exceptional album. I had noticed this before on the other projects of Bleu, but this album confirms it. Kids, Bleu is an honest-to-goodness song stylist. His voice adapts and adheres to the style of whichever song he's performing and at times it's no less than astonishing. His Jeff Lynne vocal on There's No Such Thing As Love is so authentic that, even to a dyed in the wool ELO fan like myself, it's chilling.

Understand, though, that "A Watched Pot" is essentially a lover's lament album. It's a bit downbeat, but it's an honest album and I can't fault that.

You can preorder the CD HERE from Newbury Comics and get an autographed CD Booklet to boot. I do recommend this album. It's been a long time in the coming and this "Pot" finally going to boil over (you know I couldn't resist).

You can also get the album at AMAZON, iTunes (when released) or Bleu's very own Paypal Page. Consider the ad to the left just that, an ad. You can't buy the album there.

Listen and investigate further on all things Bleu on the official MySpace Page!

One last thing. There was an extra track that I heard at the end of "A Watched Pot" that isn't listed on the track listing. It's called "The Penguin Song" and it's a beautiful homage to Harry Nilsson, right down to the opening riff that resembles Turn On Your Radio from the "Son Of Schmilsson" album. Don't know if it will be on the album proper, but it was a great tune. I got misty eyed. Harry would have loved it.

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