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That's Life

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Album Review

With one of the longest-running careers in the classical-pop crossover market, Russell Watson returned in 2007 with a collection of songs he considered his favorites, and far from being a crossover album, That's Life was a very traditional MOR/easy listening set of songs, originally sung by the likes of Frank Sinatra ("That's Life," "Strangers in the Night," "You Make Me Feel So Young"), Matt Monro ("Born Free"), Tony Bennett ("I Left My Heart in San Francisco"), and Nat King Cole ("When I Fall in Love," "Let There Be Love," "Smile"). Watson gave every song its due respect, faithfully reproducing the sounds of the great singers, and recorded the album at the Capitol studios in Los Angeles. That's Life was made more poignant by the fact — which was very well-known by the time of its release — that the recording had been split in two, beginning in September 2006 and having to be put on hold while he flew back to London to have an operation on a brain tumor. Then he returned to Los Angeles to complete the record, having recovered, only to have a relapse later in 2007. So having made hit albums since 2000 with mixes of classical and pop repertoire (for example, on his debut album he followed La Donne e Mobile with "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "Vienna"), his 2007 effort was filled with romantic love songs and standards. A nice, relaxing, pleasant album — but these renditions lacked the personalities of the originals (Watson would really have to be something special to match them), and the songs came across as cabaret versions, even upmarket Las Vegas-style cabaret but still nothing special, and performed equally as well by hundreds of singers around the world. On the final track he was joined by soul singer Alexander O'Neal, but their voices simply did not mix, and one got the impression that the two singers had never even met. The backing musicians didn't help either, performing in a most routine way and giving the songs an even blander feel than otherwise was necessary. Still, Russell Watson has made of career of singing easy listening, easy-on-the-ear songs, and this album was a fine example of the genre.


Born: 23 November 1966 in Salford, Lancashire, England

Genre: Vocal

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

British tenor Russell Watson became an opera singer by freak occurrence. While he was regularly singing in bars and clubs in the Manchester suburbs, an owner of one such venue told Watson that he thought his voice was better suited for opera and requested that he learn Puccini's "Nessun Dorma," which he did and promptly added to his set. Watson eventually signed with Decca Records, issuing his debut, entitled The Voice, in September of 2000. Nicknamed "the People's Tenor" (since he likes to chat...
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That's Life, Russell Watson
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