Not the best of Ray's work
22 / 5
I'm not a huge Ray Charles fan, but i do have a decent amount of respect for maybe 6 or 7 of his old hits. This album is not a good example of his work.
There's several reasons that this album, overall, does not work for me. The primary problem is that many of the songs features strong vocals from Ray, but grating and incongruent vocals by the featured artist. The main example of this is Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I have a strong feeling I would love this tune if it was just Ray. Each part that he sang was pretty great. The Diana Krall song also drug down Rays great vocals. Krall can sing, don't get me wrong, but her voice was definitely the weak part of that song.
Some of the songs I couldn't blame on the featured artist, however. There were several where Ray was the problem. When his voice is right on the mark I really kind of like Ray, but he came across weak on some tracks and gave this album an inconsistent feeling overall. To be fair, there were a few that Ray came across weak in mostly because they weren't his kind of song. Sweet Potato Pie was awesome on James Taylor's part, but Rays vocals just felt off. This was clearly a tune geard much more for Taylor's vocals - an artist that I absolutely love btw. The same was true of the Elton John song. Elton's vocals were great, but i had to delete the song because Ray's vocals really brought the song down. But I suspect this was also because it was an Elton John kind of song.
There are other technical issues that make this album particularly weak as well. Many of the song choices are really cliche and/or just flat out bad songs. Sinner's Prayer, for example, was really well done, but it was far too paint by #'s blues to be interesting. Lastly, each song was too long. For songs that are cliche, weak, or boring, you don't want them dragging on ad infinitum.
Throughout this whole album there are just two keepers. Here We Go Again featuring Norah Jones is the one good song and even then it's only a 3 star song. You Don't Know Me is flawed on Krall's part, but Ray's vocals pull it up enough to be a keeper at 2 stars. The rest are all throwaways for one reason or another.