By Gregg Shapiro
Like it or not, we’re living in a new (and angry) world following the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States. Straight guys, drunk and sober, are pissed off and, at the time of this writing, preparing to head to polling places to make sure their voices are heard. Of course, women are also preparing to cast votes, as are the members of the LGBTQ community, and we’re just as loud (if not louder).
Back when Frank Sinatra sings for Only the Lonely (Capitol/UMe), newly reissued in a double disc 60th anniversary edition, was first released in 1958, the world was a different place. Nevertheless, Sinatra was unafraid to put his sensitive side on display for all to see and hear. Working again with conductor/arranger Nelson Riddle, …Only the Lonely was from Sinatra’s celebrated Capitol years (in between Columbia and Reprise), from the 1950s. It’s the album on which you’ll find Sinatra standards such as “One For My Baby (and One More For The Road)” and “Angel Eyes”, as well as “Spring Is Here”, “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry”, “Blues In the Night”, “Good-Bye” and “What’s New?”. The reissue includes the original mono mix on the first disc and a 2018 stereo “mix from 3 track masters” on the second disc, as well as four takes as bonus tracks.
How smooth, soulful and sensitive is Inside Voice (Secretly Canadian), the debut album by Joey Dosik? Just listen to “Grandma Song” (about the singer’s bubbe) to find out. When he sings (and repeats) “I will treat you well” in “Stories”, you believe him. When he offers you his tears and his smile in “Take Mine”, you don’t doubt his sincerity for a moment. More than anything, Dosik is a first-rate purveyor of blue-eyed soul as you can hear on “Don’t Want It To Be Over” (featuring Coco O.), “In Heaven” and the “stadium version” of “Game Winner”.
Josh Groban is also someone you might imagine writing and singing a song about his grandmother. Bridges (Reprise) is Groban’s first studio album since his Tony-nominated Broadway debut in Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 and he co-wrote more than half of the songs on the album, including the gospel-tinged “River”. His cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” is respectable and he has a number of familiar duet partners on the songs “99 Years” (Jennifer Nettles), “Run” (Sarah McLachlan) and “We Will Meet Once Again” (fellow crossover artist Andrea Bocelli). The deluxe edition of Bridges includes two bonus tracks; “You Have No Idea”, co-written by Harry Connick Jr., and a cover of Billy Joel’s “She’s Always A Woman”.
It takes a certain level of sensitivity to open your self-titled (on Island Records) with “In My Blood”, a song about coping with social anxiety, but that’s exactly what Shawn Mendes did. While everyone deals with it in their own way, Mendes took a daring step in sharing that part of his life with his fans. The rest of the album, Mendes’ third, has some high points, including the Julia Michaels duet on “Like To Be You”, the snappy funk of “Lost In Japan”, the clubby “Particular Taste” and the heartbreak ballad “Perfectly Wrong”. However, most of the songs tend to blur together.
John Hiatt established himself as one of the most sensitive singer/songwriters during his A&M Records period on songs such as “Have A Little Faith in Me” (from 1987’s Bring The Family) and “Through Your Hands” (from 1990’s Stolen Moments). The Eclipse Sessions (New West), Hiatt’s first studio album in four years, finds him mining some of the sensitivity to great effect on songs such as the gorgeous “Aces Up Your Sleeve”, and “Hide Your Tears” and “Nothing In My Heart”. “All The Way To The River”, “Robber’s Highway and “Poor Imitation of God” are also notable.
If you can’t get enough music by sensitive guys, consider Ray LaMontagne’s Part of the Light (RCA), Iron & Wine’s six-song EP Weed Garden (Sub Pop) and Mission Bell (Nettwerk) by William Fitzsimmons.