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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
Format: Vinyl|Change
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on 11 May 2011
I heard Laurie's album playing in Tesco this afternoon and loved it but was hesitant about buying it, purely because of what I call the 'crossover curse'. Sinatra was a good singer, horrific actor. The same can be said of many actors, singers etc. who attempt to cross over into something different. Only very few have managed the feat credibly and in my opinion, Laurie has managed it. In his favour, he clearly knows his voice very well and knows that in some ways, it's very limited but in blues, that doesn't really matter. Solomon Burke was not really a great singer, but blues music needs a bit of rough around the edges charm to be really good and it's fortunate that Laurie has that in abundance. It's also to his credit that on songs that need a 'good' singer, Laurie defers to someone else who is much better suited to the task - Tom Jones being one such instance.

The album won't suit some people's tastes, particularly those buying the album purely because it was made by Hugh Laurie of House fame. For me, I love the album because of the instrumental performances first and Laurie's voice second. Listening to the album it is clear that you're being taken to the New Orleans music soaked atmosphere and those who appreciate that type of music will love it. It's sincere and mixes joy and pain together very well whilst maintaining an air of sophistication possessed by someone who really does love the music he's performing - and no one can deny that Laurie is very talented, particularly on piano and guitar. Yes, the vocals are rough, but if they were polished and perfect I think that the album would be somehow be lacking, blues needs that feel of being performed after a heavy night of drinking in order to work properly.

I've read one review elsewhere that objected to Laurie's use of an American accent when singing, but really this strikes me as a bit of a nonsensical argument because there is no way that you can take a genre of music so quintessentially American and then sing it with an British accent. It would be like Lily Allen singing without the cockney accent - it wouldn't work. Similarly, some have raised eyebrows at an Englishman attempting blues classics, but to them I say that music is the one thing in life, or one of them anyway, that should be genderless, colourless and geographically free. There's no harm in trying something, and as a listener, I am able to choose my preferred option. For example, I really love Procol Harem's A Whiter Shade of Pale but consider Annie Lennox's version as an inferior version. Cat Power's version of Sea of Love is amazing and I prefer it to Phil Phillips and the Twilights' version. Good music done badly just makes you want the better version, whilst good music done well, as Laurie does it, just makes you appreciate it more.

In summary, I'm pleasantly surprised by Hugh Laurie's album. It's instrumentally fantastic and his vocal ability, whilst not up there with the greats, adds a great deal of warmth and sincerity to the material. What shines through for me is that he really appreciates the music and in my opinion, there's a great many singers on the charts today who, although technically better singers, could take a leaf out of Hugh Laurie's book and learn to love music as opposed to using it as a money making venture.
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on 9 May 2011
Let them Talk is an album born of a personal passion for the Blues, and it's evident from the impressive opening of 'St James Infirmary' that Hugh Laurie is enjoying himself.

There's no denying he's a skilled pianist and he clearly isn't out of his depth surrounded by such notable musicians - all of whom play their socks off.
The 15 tracks on the album provide a pleasant mixture of material. If the saxed up Buddy Bolden's Blues or the moody 'Six Cold Feet' slow the tempo a little, there are several foot stomping tracks to follow, most notably the renditions of 'Swanee River' and 'Tipatina'.

I defy any of you to listen to these without tapping your foot.

Hugh Laurie's vocals are good he can certainly carry a tune - for any doubters it's clear on tracks such as 'The whale has Swallowed me' and 'The Battle of Jericho' that he can hold his own with little or no music accompaniment.

There will always be those who will question Hugh Laurie's credibility as "real" Blues Singer - some will see this as indulgent, others no doubt will bang on about class, background etc.
But let them talk ... I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to this album.

Hugh Laurie has had the chance to pay tribute to his musical heroes and if Let Them Talk introduces a new audience to Blues music then what a tribute that will be.
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on 20 June 2011
I'm impressed by the quality of the recording of these sessions and of course the musicianship is top drawer. The choice of tracks is brilliant and conveys HL's love of the genre very well.

My only concern is with his voice. Its more of an 'impression' of other singers than his own voice in my view. The Pseudo american accent is a little annoying and his vocal performance, is as you would expect from someone who hasnt recorded much before, a little amateurish

But all of that wont take away from my overall enjoyment of the album. Is it just a cash in on House? No of course not and HL has dont a lot here to open the genre to a wider audience for which he should be applauded.
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on 22 November 2011
I am not a musician nor do I understand technical sound details. I just know that I do love blues and this is truly the best buy or cluck for your buck in music if you like blues. I rarely buy music anymore since there is so much free music and I already have a lot. I am glad I purchased this and would buy more from Mr. Laurie. Most CD's are more than 10.00 US and I feel like it should be at least 20.00 US for the enjoyment I have had listening to the music and the variety it offers. I enjoy Mr. Laurie's piano style and that alone is worth the $10.00. In reading the enclosed leaflet about Mr. Laurie it was also entertaining, humorous and interesting. I highly recommend his style of music. If I wasnt so old I would start or join his fan club. A standing ovation to Mr. Laurie.
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on 9 May 2011
Music has been present in Hugh Laurie's career in some form or another since the days of "Fry & Laurie", even working its way into "House", the American television series that turned him into an international star in the 2000s.
Without "House", Laurie would never have been granted the opportunity to record an album like 2011's "Let Them Talk", a full-blooded immersion into American blues via New Orleans, shepherded by acclaimed roots producer Joe Henry and featuring such Big Easy heavy-hitters as Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, and Irma Thomas.
To his enormous credit, Laurie never sounds like a dilettante/amateurish among this group: he holds his own, working his way into the marrow of the songs, playing credible piano throughout the record.
Which isn't to say that he quite makes this selection of standards his own, either.
There are reworkings and reinterpretations, "Tipitina" in particular being turned on its head, but the problem with "Let Them Talk" isn't the guts and blood of the music, or the slightly studious air Henry cultivates.
No, the problem is how Laurie's blues accent inevitably slides into affectations quite familiar from "House".
He can't help it, that's his American accent, but it's disarming to have a number cooking along and all of a sudden Princeton Plainsboro's favorite misanthrope has taken the lead.
S.T. Erlewine
Favourite tracks : "St. James Infirmary", "You Don't Know My Mind", and "Buddy Bolden's Blues".

The Allen Toussaint Collection
The River In Reverse
The Very Best of Dr. John
The Soul Queen Of New Orleans: 50th Anniversary Celebration
Ya-Ka-May
Other Side of Midnight:Live in New O
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on 26 December 2011
This album is so captivating that I can't get enough of it. Especially, this edition adds more amazing tracks such as Hallelujah, I Love Her So. I really love Hugh's version of this song. Last but definitely not least, this edition also has a very charming documentary narrated by Hugh Laurie. It's about his love of blues music. I can't stop smiling watching it. If you love blues music and Hugh Laurie, you can't miss this. It's a must have.
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on 28 December 2011
An excellent product, with a beautiful DVD. As for the CD, be advised that it contains 3 new tracks that replace the bonus tracks of the deluxe CD. The missing tracks are Ain't Necessarily So, Lowdown Dirty And Blue and Guess I'm A Fool. I look forward to Hugh Laurie's next CD, as his mix of jazz and blues is perfect for late night driving...
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on 14 May 2011
In my honest opinion I think this album is very worthy. Some people may think "Oh, he's an actor trying to make music. Not interested!", and that's fair enough given the efforts of some actors, but Hugh Laurie has put more than enough effort into this project. He has injected each song with love, loneliness and heart. He's not doing it for the money, he already has plenty. He's doing it for the love of the music. All in all, this a great album and it's exactly what I was hoping for. My highlights on the album are "After You've Gone" and "Tipitana".
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on 19 November 2011
My review is mainly about the quality of sound. I naively thought that this being a blues/jazz/country release that it would be immune to the over compression used on most pop music records today. Unfortunately, this album is as crushed as any other release, which is a real shame because this album has great songs (the Ray Charles's cover "Hallelujah, I Love Her So" being my favourite), nice arrangements, decent musicianship and cool guests. It's pretty much unlistenable on headphones, but bearable through loudspeakers. Shame.
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Often when actors record albums it's for self gratification and a deluded view that they are more talented than they actually are.
However this is not the case for Hugh Laurie.
This man is incredibly talented, as an actor, writer and musician.
He can clearly play the piano, and his singing is fine. he has a passion for blues that comes across in his music.
I get the impression that Laurie has recorded this album not for money or recognition, but because of his sheer enjoyment and love for the blues, and his desire to share that with others.
His nasal American accent seems to be ideally suited to the genre, and he even has a world weary look to finish everything off.
What's not to like.
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