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Gems: The Duets Collection

Michael Bolton

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Album Review

Gems: The Duets Collection may bear a title that suggests it’s a compilation, but this 2011 effort is a brand-new album containing nothing but new collaborations between Michael Bolton and similarly minded travelers of the middle of the road. It is new but it feels old, faithful to the early-‘90s adult contemporary hits that made Bolton a superstar, and its biggest missteps arrive whenever Gems strays too far from that slick template, particularly when Bolton and Anne Akiko Meyers stumble through a strident reading of U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love).” Moments like this don’t arrive all that often, fortunately. Most of the time, Bolton stays in his comfort zone, turning in a surprisingly understated version of “You Are So Beautiful” with trumpeter Chris Botti, going toe-to-toe with Rascal Flatts on “Love Is Everything,” sounding as big as the children choir on “Hallelujah.” There are no surprises here, but there don’t need to be: this is Bolton doing what he does best, and doing it so well that anybody who picks this up thinking it’s a compilation won’t be disappointed with what resides inside.

Biography

Born: 26 February 1953 in New Haven, CT

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Singer/songwriter Michael Bolton had an extensive (though not very successful) career under his real name, Michael Bolotin, before emerging in the mid-'80s as a major soft rock balladeer. He first turned up on RCA Records in the mid-'70s, singing cover tunes and his own blue-eyed soul songs in a gruff, Joe Cocker-like voice. Neither record buyers nor critics were much interested by the result. He then became the lead singer of Blackjack, a heavy metal band that made two albums for Polydor before...
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Gems: The Duets Collection, Michael Bolton
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