We Only Have Ears For Jumaane Smith
Jumaane Smith’s debut record I Only Have Eyes For You is a culmination of years in the music industry and schooling for his craft since his teenage years. The result is something smooth, sensual, and just downright stunning, creating something that cuts deep but softly croons at the same time. Featuring the vocals of many artists such as contemporary great Michael Bublé, I Only Have Eyes For You is truly a celebration of some of the greatest tunes of all time.
The record opens with the collaboration of massive star power Michael Bublé in “Come Rain Or Come Shine” as both gentlemen deliver a tune that does a stellar job establishing the swinging swag of the entire record. This momentum is carried on majestically by “Dream” and “Georgia On My Mind,” two excellent renditions that will keep the audience captivated before transitioning into the surprisingly sweet and eponymously named “I Only Have Eyes For You.” Featuring the a capella work of Naturally 7, the track is a headbobber simultaneously sultry and energetic, the stylish pomp of Smith’s trumpet playing magnificently alongside the upbeat swagger of Naturally 7’s vocals. “I Only Have Eyes For You” is certain to be a fan favourite.
Smith’s own vocals stand terrifically toe-to-toe with the entire album, standing especially strong in “What A Wonderful World” (and later in “La Vie On Rose”). While certainly not as skilled a vocalist as the featured artists on the record, nothing stops Smith from belting out his smooth vocals as he croons with authoritative confidence in “What A Wonderful World,” a cover that certainly does the historically gigantic song justice, and is perhaps the dark horse favourite of the album.
The purely instrumental tracks are a sublime treat that really top off this fantastic album, with The Beatles massive single “Yesterday” making a spectacular appearance. Smith’s rendition is cinematic and memorable, swaying from verse to chorus and tickling your heart in just the right places, beckoning you to sing along. This is truly a beautiful and fantastic cover that is a can’t-miss hit on the record.
“La Vie On Rose”, featuring the vocals of Jackie Evancho, is perhaps the best track on the entire album, a rendition that is accessible and enjoyable to all listeners both new and old. Goosebumps will slowly sway back and forth as the track opens with the memorable and familiar trumpet line before Smith’s vocals enter, and finally again with the husky sultriness of Jackie Evancho’s voice. It’s certainly a shame that Evancho’s feature in the song is relatively small in a song that feels it could be fleshed out a lot more than it already is, but it cannot be overlooked how spectacular and tight this song already feels.
The production of the album, to sum up in one word, is fantastic. In a music style that begs for pomp showiness, I Only Have Eyes For You does exactly that, shorting out nowhere on the record and doing everything it can to transform every passage and every note into something spectacular. Nothing feels cheap or oddly placed; everything from the vocals right down to the instrument themselves in the instrumentals feels precise. The attention to detail is downright admirable, complementing the talent and star power that graces this album. Although a faster-paced number will certainly be desired as the record is mostly a chilled Sunday afternoon soundtrack, nothing can take away from the wonderfully showy content that is packed into this eleven-track album.
I Only Have Eyes For You is spectacular, and it feels like it has the potential to be something even more. The talent, the star power, all the way down to the precision in instrumentation is present here, but it certainly seems like there could be more. Indeed, for someone who is as traveled and Jumaane Smith, you would perhaps expect something more varied and wide-reaching than what we have here, but that doesn’t mean what is already here isn’t absolutely stunning and memorable. This is an enjoyable and accessible record, one that music fans, and listeners of some classic hits will certainly adore.
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