is the third instalment of Rod Stewart
's nostalgic journey away from leopard-print rock and into a gentler world of traditional jazz standards. Mainly backed by a small combo of piano, bass and drums, Stewart has avoided the trend in big-band swing, putting his legendary showmanship aside in favour of a more relaxing sound based solely on his voice.
Opener "Embraceable You" is for the most part indicative of the rest of the album aside from a few vocal jazz tricks that don't sit too well on his gravelly, self-trained voice. "Manhattan", a duet with Bette Midler also highlights this lack of formal technique where his voice clashes with the rich, cabaret tone of Midler's. However, aside from these remembrances that Rod is a rock singer, the reason the American Songbook series is on its third volume is that he sounds fantastic singing this kind of music. Consistently through every song his apparently strained voice sounds effortless as he inserts a very natural dynamic feel. The highlight has to be "Baby it's Cold Outside", a wonderful duet with Dolly Parton who's warm, friendly, drawl complements him perfectly.
Stardust may not be the sort of music that would make him leap about and kick footballs at his fans but, Rod Stewart snr. has matured gracefully and seems very comfortable doing it. --David Trueman
Rod Stewart Stardust (The Great American Songbook Vol.3)