Robbie Dupree – Arc of Romance
Robbie Dupree – Arc of a Romance
By Jason Hillenburg edited by Cyrus Rhodes
Website – http://www.robbiedupree.com/
Clocking in at a little under 25 minutes, singer/songwriter Robbie Dupree’s new EP from Spectra Records, Arc of a Romance, is Dupree’s 11th release since he scored with his self-titled 1980 debut. The new album is intended as a tribute to some of Dupree’s favorite songs of the last five decades and is his first release since 2010′s Time and Tide. Arc of a Romance opens with “I Only Have Eyes For You”, a pop standard dating back to the 1930′s. Covered by Frank Sinatra, among others, Dupree’s stylish take on this number exhibits tremendous sensitivity and a firm grasp of phrasing. The real highlights of the set are two versions, one featuring saxophonist Butch Thomas, of The Isley Brothers’ classic “For The Love Of You” and a gorgeous rendering of Marc Jordan’s “Coronation Street” The production is superb – instrumental touches briefly float to the surface before disappearing again and the mixing focuses squarely on Dupree’s vocals without obscuring his excellent backing. The production quality remains consistent throughout the release. Unfortunately, there are times when this feels like an exercise in pinning butterflies under glass.
Dupree’s approach, particularly on the opening song, is often too careful and reverential. Pop standards practically beg for reinvention – the malleable, elastic quality of songs is evidence of their timelessness. While his powers of phrasing are considerable and never desert him, his vocal on “I Only Have Eyes For You” veers dangerously close to sounding bloodless and mannered. The same effect is heard in other songs. The quivering delicacy of his delivery and his smooth transitions settle into a familiar pattern early and there is rarely any real grit or emotion peering out from behind the technical proficiency.
Arc of a Romance certainly respects the musical landscape it inhabits, but its wide-eyed adoration is laden with pitfalls. Simply put, despite the appealing sonic qualities, the flawless technical performances, and the exceptional musical backing, Dupree never leaves a personal mark on these songs. Instead, he settles for accuracy, and hits his marks as a performer without imparting many truly inspiring moments in the process. There is no question that Arc of a Romance is the product of a talented vocalist and completely inoffensive, but ultimately contrived and inert.
Purchase Link – http://www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.asp?pid=8756151
Rating: 6 and a half stars out of 10.
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