OK, if you don’t like Django Reinhardt, traditional French accordion music, The Godfather soundtrack and sitting in cafés in Paris off your face on absinthe, you won’t like this album. It’s also hard to get over sometime Soft Cell singer Almond’s massive conceit that the world needs him to record yet another covers album – his 238th this month – when what his fans really want is some out-in-clubland synth-pop, 1983 vintage. If you can get past these not inconsiderable hurdles, however, you’ll thoroughly enjoy Almond’s heartfelt homage to the late Russian singer Kozin, who deserves a bit of publicity after Stalin put him in a gulag for not sucking up to him enough in his music.
Of the 13 tracks, it’s I Love So Much To Look Into Your Eyes, When Youth Becomes A Memory and Boulevards Of Magadan (named after the town where Kozin lived and died) that stand out most. Almond, always a shameless torch-singer, emotes like there’s no tomorrow, occasionally missing the right note – but the arrangements and instrumentation are breathtaking at every step. Though some of the less dramatic songs tend to blend into one seamless orchestral whole if you don’t pay attention, the old boy has pulled off something of a coup.