At The Movies review by Bart Greenburg from Cabaret Scenes Magazine.
Gary Williams is a major cabaret star in London. His very relaxed musical style harks back to an earlier time or, in fact, several earlier times: the crooners of the ‘50s; the gentle pop stars of the ‘60s; and the slightly jazz-infused swingers. His ninth CD is a tribute to movie songs, with an emphasis on Disney films and those of Elvis Presley.
The Disney songs definitely bring out Williams’ jazz soul with a truly swinging “Ev’rybody Wants to Be a Cat” and a Latin rhythm-inflected “He’s a Tramp” that is sheer fun. “The Bare Necessities” gets a laid-back delivery (the singer’s enjoyment of clever lyrics is well displayed here). “Baby Mine” is a lightly delivered ballad, emphasizing a wistfulness without giving in to sentimentality, while “When She Loved Me” (Toy Story 2) is simplicity itself, and very moving for that.
The Presley songs are given a fresh approaches, with no attempt to mimic the style of the iconic star. “Almost in Love” receives a gentle, sexy delivery and an orchestration that emphasizes its original source as a Brazilian melody, while “Puppet on a String” comes close to a lullaby (curiously, without checking the credits, it might be mistaken for a Disney theme). Likewise, “I Need Somebody to Lean On” has a three o’clock-in-the-morning bluesy quality that one might easily mistake for a Frank Sinatra song, while “Pocketful of Rainbows” is pure ‘60s pop swing.
There are other songs at least tangentially related to the movies included on the disc, like “Both Sides Now.” “Isn’t This a Lovely Day (to Be Caught in the Rain?)” has a clever arrangement which includes phrases from various “rain songs” that challenge the listener to pay attention. Throughout, this recording is marked by Williams’ careful attention to lyrics, which he clearly savors for their quality.
This is one of those perfect, easy-listening albums, excellent for relaxing to after a day at work, or serving as background music at a dinner party.