Although many of the people who arrive at this project will have come from Lady Gaga’s immense pool of fans, this is an accessible and enjoyable album for all fans of traditional pop, vocal jazz and easy listening. There are tracks on here – as there were on their first collaborative album Cheek to Cheek – where the duo sing separately, but the best examples of why these albums work is in the beauty of the two voices coming together.
The opening trifecta, “It’s De-Lovely”, “Night and Day” and the title track, all showcase how well this concept works. Bennett and Gaga’s voices seem to bounce off each other, and become emboldened and enlivened by its presence. The first solo track is a Lady Gaga run-through of “Do I Love You”, is pleasingly melodramatic, with Gaga’s voice soaring one second, sultry and smoky the next.
The overblown, maximalist and instantly recognisable “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” is another highlight (naturally), but even that pales in comparison to the sheer heat of “I Concentrate On You”. There are other songs you’ll definitely recognise too – “Let’s Do It” (performed by Gaga as a solo) and “I Get A Kick Out Of You” are practically written into the fabric of any fan of popular music.
There are many editions of this delicious album floating around in the ether, but the one to get (if you’re into buying physical copies) is the ‘International Deluxe’, which features a live disc of a performance of the whole debut album. Lovely.
Part of the beauty of this project is the air of finality. This will be Bennett’s final album, and by proxy his final collaboration with Gaga (or anyone). This notion lends the songs a real emotional weight, where other standards albums have carried the weight of history rather poorly. This is neither an essential nor an endlessly replayable record – but what it is, thankfully, is a delightful entry point to the works of Tony Bennett. Nothing else much matters.