Sometimes criticizing a recording is easy. It’s just like pulling a trigger. You’ve heard the songs, you dislike the songs and you know exactly why. Sometimes it’s extremely difficult, especially if you take an album apart and experience the parts versus the whole. Had Bleu’s new CD, A Watched Pot, been experienced in that manner, I probably would feel warmer toward it.
It’s not actually Bleu’s fault. He’s a solid performer and songwriter, he’s got sterling pop smarts and he’s also a nice guy with a sense of humor about his work. It comes through on the album as there are almost no real clunkers to be found, but taken as a collection, its hard to get through in a single setting. The reason why is because, excepting one solitary song, the entire collection falls under 110 BPM. I’m not looking for Dance Dance Revolution fodder, but we have one ballad after another after another after a waltz here. That one upbeat track, the Motown influenced “Kiss Me” is all the more effervescent in the contrast, but it got me wishing for more energy expenditure that’s sorely missing.
The big flop of the disc is the unfortunately titled “I Won’t Fuck You Over (This Time)” and the reason why it fails is because, at heart, it’s a sturdy piano blues, easily enjoyed were it not for that nagging expletive reducing the tune to almost a novelty. I never got the feeling this was some stab at honest expression, but merely an exercise, wondering what would be the result if Leiber and Stoller wrote a tune for Ray Charles but were allowed to use the word “fuck” in it. For those who don’t have antennae going up every time a dirty word is uttered, the results may vary. It threw me out of the song.
But that’s only one song out of 11, and I’m still recommending the CD, with certain restrictions. The fun usage of our common pop culture heritage makes “Boy Meets Girl” a wonderful addition to future mixtapes. “Save Me” finds Bleu at his most theatrical, but there was never anything wrong with that, and again, “Kiss Me” would be included in the soundtrack of a thousand Sandra Bullock or Renee Zellweger romantic comedies if the music coordinators were that savvy. The overriding key is that you take the CD in small portions. All at once, you forget the value of what you have by focusing on the tonal and dynamic sameness of it. It’s the thing that makes the title almost sarcastically apt — what’s cooking might be great, but be aware that A Watched Pot never really gets a chance to boil.
A Watched Pot is available through Amazon.com.