Anyone who has seen Canadian crooner Michael Buble in concert knows that he has enough boyish charm and cool assurance to win over audiences without breaking a sweat. But because he doesn't have a particularly distinctive voice -- tuneful, yes; distinctive, no -- his recordings aren't nearly as entertaining as his live performances.
"It's Time," the singer's second full-length studio session, is a scattershot of pop and swing. The 13 tracks include a Sinatra-inspired "I've Got You Under My Skin," complete with a classic Nelson Riddle arrangement; a clever big-band take on Lennon and McCartney's "Can't Buy Me Love"; a disposable duet version of the Latin pop standard "Quando, Quando, Quando," featuring Nelly Furtado; a cover of "You Don't Know Me" that will likely leave soul music fans pining for the Ray Charles version; a reprise of "How Sweet It Is" that's mostly notable for its surprising blues shuffle orchestration; a fulgent, finger-snapping rendition of "The More I See You," one of the album's genuine treats; and Leon Russell's "Song for You," which warmly showcases Chris Botti's muted trumpet. Buble co-penned one tune, "Home," a yearning, lull-inducing ballad.
Clearly, the Vancouver native is better off swinging, though sometimes even that tack isn't fail-proof. Beginning with the album's opening cut, the Nina Simone hit "Feeling Good," Buble's breezy musicality and pop enthusiasms can't always compensate for what his voice lacks -- in a word, personality.
-- Mike Joyce
Appearing Sunday at Wolf Trap.