THE ALBUM -- Anne Murray, "Somebody's Waiting," Capitol (SOO-12064).; THE SHOW -- At Merriweather Post Pavillion, Aug. 17 at 8 p.m.
Fans of mushy-mellow rock appreciate Anne Murray's deep, lovely voice with its broken-hearted tinges. On her latest album, "Somebody Waiting," the pert Canadian is once again, well, pert.
The tolerance test for this record is Murray's rendition of Lennon and McCartney's "I'm Happy Just To Dance With You," Sweetly lilting in slow-motion, she takes the youthful life out of the tune to create an innocuous fox trot. It's like stepping into an elevator and hearing the Muzak version of "Hey Jude." Her earlier Beatles covers likewise aimed to turn rock 'n' roll into lullabyes, with a soft feminine twist. But anyone with slightly vigorous rock tastes will wince.
Acturally, she's best on "Nevertheless (I'm In Love With You)," a wonderful 1931 tearjerker for which her sobbing alto is a natural. Maybe Murray's producer should unearth more old standards for her interpretation. Her voice smolders on the low notes and the harmonica solo wails sincerely:
Maybe I'll win, maybe I'll lose
Maybe I'm in for crying the blues
But nevertheless I'm in love with you
Now, if only they would erase the out of place steel guitar track . . .
Approaching a finger-snapping pace on the chorus of the gospel-style title track, Murray musters the energy to put across a peppy tune. And her sonorous voice can be sexy. But throughout the album, the middle-of-the-road vibes have never been more middling.
True enough, Murray's rounded tones are lush -- her "Moon Over Brooklyn" is a dramatic vocal, not as over-produced as some. Still, most of the songs are snorers. Witness "Do You Think Of Me," written by Sandy. When your arms reachout to hold her
Do you think of me?
A whiny slide guitar adds the ultimate schmaltzy touch. And "The French Waltz," (given a heartfelt country wail by Nicolette Larson on her first album), suffers from mandolin and accordion overdose with a leaden pace.
If only she didn't go in for such sappy material, Murray could be a big time vocalist. As it is, she is pleasant if played sparingly as background music.