14 Songs, 56 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

On Soul Speak, Michael McDonald extends the success of his two Motown tribute albums with a broader selection of tunes. In the process, he reminds listeners why he became a mega-star with the Doobie Brothers three decades ago — his burly tenor has lost none of its pain-wracked urgency or velvety tenderness. With executive producer Tony Swain and his coterie of UK-based arrangers back at the helm, McDonald wraps his voice around these songs with respect and affection. “For Once in My Life,” “Love TKO” and “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” are rendered in his familiar soul-pop vein. Several tunes — especially Eddy Arnold’s “You Don’t Know Me” and Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” — are such perfect fits that it’s amazing McDonald didn’t record them years ago. More unexpected is his plaintive, gospel-rooted rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and his sleek, de-reggaefied take on Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” Soul Speak finds McDonald in revivified form, expressing himself with eloquence.

EDITORS’ NOTES

On Soul Speak, Michael McDonald extends the success of his two Motown tribute albums with a broader selection of tunes. In the process, he reminds listeners why he became a mega-star with the Doobie Brothers three decades ago — his burly tenor has lost none of its pain-wracked urgency or velvety tenderness. With executive producer Tony Swain and his coterie of UK-based arrangers back at the helm, McDonald wraps his voice around these songs with respect and affection. “For Once in My Life,” “Love TKO” and “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” are rendered in his familiar soul-pop vein. Several tunes — especially Eddy Arnold’s “You Don’t Know Me” and Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” — are such perfect fits that it’s amazing McDonald didn’t record them years ago. More unexpected is his plaintive, gospel-rooted rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and his sleek, de-reggaefied take on Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” Soul Speak finds McDonald in revivified form, expressing himself with eloquence.

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