ALBUM REVIEW: Lady Gaga/Tony Bennett, Love For Sale
Maturing as a music critic means knowing that not every single album will be in the style that I like or that I understand. As the page starts to grow, I know that I will not be able to just say “This Moor Mother album is too complex and her discography is too immense for me to even figure this out so I’m skipping it”, because that’s just kind of lazy. At the same time, I am really not interested in just pumping my brain full of music I am uninterested in just for the sake of getting a review out for the day. So this week, as a challenge, I decided to give this Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett covers album a chance. In addition to wanting to test my own patience, I also was curious to understand Gaga’s headspace. It is insane to me that the same woman who wore a meat dress to the 2013 VMAs and made a hyperpop remix album just last month is able to switch up to the most traditional style of music possible. This is honestly one of the only albums I’ve ever reviewed that I could put on in front of a grandpa without them raising an eyebrow. From the very first track “It’s De-Lovely”, it is clear to me that this record does have a very clear purpose, this is Italian restaurant background music.
Every album besides ones by Hobo Johnson have their purpose in society. Shygirl is for nights out at Berghain, Death Grips is for stealing people’s credit card information via an Android app, and Love For Sale is music made for everyone to enjoy in a public setting. Whether it’s during Christmas time, in a Marshall’s or at the San Gennaro festival, this is very inoffensive but well-made jazz and piano standards by two people who seem to really have a deep passion for these types of songs. “Night and Day” originally by Cole Porter, is backed by lavish strings as Gaga and Bennett sing together in beautiful harmony. Their voices really do compliment each other well, with each other fulfilling their vocal roles properly. Gaga is about to hit the high notes and provides the sweetness, while Bennett provides the smoky undertones. “Let’s Do It” is a cheeky song about having sex...just kidding it’s about falling in love, and Gaga takes it solo to great effect. I also appreciate how they are able to cover lots of ground without going too far in a direction that wouldn’t blend in. “I Concentrate On You” is more bossa-nova than straight jazz, with Gaga leading it to start and Bennett coming in on the back end to provide support. I really love the trumpets on this song as well, they are very expressive and give the song a very elegant tone, like traveling to a very expensive event in a very expensive car.
The only track that I was actually familiar with before listening was “I Get A Kick Out of You” made famous by Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra, which is such a classic. Lyrically, of course, the song is about how alcohol, parties and cocaine are put aside in favor of true love. The two of them do well enough, coming nowhere close to the charisma of Sinatra, but who would? It’s kind of a doomed task. Other than to continue to say Gaga has a nice voice, Bennett is a legend and the instrumentals are very lush and well produced, I don’t really have much else to say about Love For Sale. It shows Gaga’s versatility and proves her to be not only one of the best modern pop stars, but also one of our generation’s greatest singers. It’s cool to see Bennett continue to sound just as great as I remember him, and if he can still keep cranking out albums, then good on him. Otherwise, this is a nice album for a dinner party, but after I finish editing this, I won’t play this again. That is until I’m 42 years old, pouring some Brandy out a crystal decanter and pulling a roast out of the oven. I’m bringing it into my lovely but ungrateful family who has been coasting off my AntiArt checks for way too long, and I’m thinking of going outside to smoke my vape in my electronic Subaru or whatever. And then, I remember this album and put it on, and all the candles shine brighter, all my children’s faces are smiling just a little more, everything is cozy, and the roast looks delicious. Ahhh, there is music for every occasion, I think to myself, and this is Love For Sale’s moment.
(Also just reading that this will be Bennett’s final album with Gaga and will culminate in his final performance because of his Alzheimer’s. Just want to say, much respect to this guy. He is 95-years old and has dropped over sixty albums. He is a legend and should be honored as such, regardless of my silly little review. Love you Tony.)