Love Songs is an interesting and varied collaboration between Brad Mehldau and Anne Sofie Von Otter, two artists you wouldn't automatically think had much in common. CD 1 contains a 7 song cycle written by Mehldau, and it all takes itself a bit too seriously to be honest. Von Otter does the best she can with the material and never sounds less than sublime, but Brad is all thundering chords and classical posturing, making it sound more like a Brahms lieder collection that anything else.
CD2 finds the pair working through 13 largely well-known songs from a range of masters of the craft, and it's a joy. A million miles from the laboured efforts of CD1, you can spot craftsmanship at work here, from the lyrics and melodies of these beautiful songs, through the accompaniment from Mehldau who proves more than up the task, and Von Otter's sumptious voice, which is absolutely stunning on some material here. Occasionally, a little bit of the ice-maiden in the voice just stops full engagement in the meaning of the songs, but overall it's wonderful stuff.
Two tracks alone make this worth the purchase price: Michel Legrand's What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life? and Leonard Bernstein's "Some Other Time". Mehldau and Von Otter bring their album to a close with this song, and it's poignant and lovely enough to bring the hairs up on the back of the neck, such is the intensity of emotional delivery.
Truthfully, I wasn't expecting much from this album, but CD2 alone lifts it to 5 star status. Simply beautiful music.