|By John Milward
Special for USA TODAY
Pop the question and pour the champagne- Linda Ronstadt's new
album Lush Life, to be released Friday, is a toast to love of the
most romantic kind.
This sequel to last year's surprise million-selling success What's New, could be Ronstadt's most successful album to date and - coupled with her upcoming role in La Boheme on Broadway - it could make her the cover girl of the Christmas season. Asylum is so hot on the album that it's shipping a million copies.
Lush Life finds Ronstadt again working with orchestra arranger Nelson Riddle, but this time she doesn't simply evoke the torch singer, she adds a touch of herself and joins that enduring tradition.
She's considerably more relaxed here than on What's New, her initial foray into the sophisticated song stylings of George Gershwin and Cole Porter. A major plus: A trio of swing tunes provides a needed change of pace. And Ronstadt sings as if she were in a club, not a recital hall.
Ronstadt's precise but amiable tone is the key: She doesn't just sing the blues, she cuddles them.
Among the highlights of Lush Life's 12-song set:
If there is any fault to be found with Lush Life, it is the uncomfortable element of retro-chic in the song selection. The chestnuts are wonderful, but Ronstadt's next challenge is to leaven them with compatible new songs written by such old friends as Randy Newman and Jimmy Webb.
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