Max Raabe - Der Perfekte Moment
Label: UNIVERSAL MUSIC INTL.
Vocals - Max Raabe
I have seen the charismatic German baritone Max Raabe and his 12-member Palast Orchester live three times; each time, the world-famous group — around since the mid-80s — embodies the high style and musical glory of the ‘20s and ‘30s as they perform songs from, and in the style of, that remarkable time. Always elegant and smart in appearance, Raabe — now 55 — has proved himself a singer of incredible range, with the ability to capture the cunning rasp of the cabaret singer, the confidence of the bel canto hero, the oily melodiousness of the revue beau, the carefree timbre of early jazz, and the falsetto of ragtime. Singing in both German and English, Raabe has more often than not offered U.S. audiences tunes from the Weimar era (from one of his CDs, such as Eine Nacht in Berlin) and timeless American classics in the vein of “Singing in the Rain,” “Dream a Little Dream,” and “Cheek to Cheek.” 17 discs since the onset of his amazing career, Raabe wanted to write his own songs, but continue to offer them in the style of the 20s and 30s. He successfully collaborated in 2011 and 2013 with German songwriter, pop singer and record producer Annette Humpe on the albums Küssen kann man nicht alleine (You Can’t Kiss Alone) and Für Frauen ist das kein Problem (This Isn’t a Problem for Women). Both Raabe and Humpe achieved successful balancing acts between irony and melancholy and profound wit — but without Hempe’s 80s’ New Wave sound. For these efforts, Raabe dropped that nasally effect so well-suited for the 20s, and came up with a slimmer, softer sound. Now Raabe, remaining ever the German Gentleman, returns with a new album of pop chansons penned by himself along with Humpe and Cristoph Israel on three tracks, Achim Hagemann on four, and Daniel Faust, Ulf Leo Sommer, and Peter Plate (of the German pop duo, Rosenstolz) on five. With that many composers, you would think the songs would be all over the map, but the cohesive result is a celebration of delicious relaxed idleness — a celebration of the simplicities of life, and a reminder to enjoy them before the realities of life befall you. Titled Der Perfekte Moment…Wird Heut Verpennt (The Perfect Moment…Will Be Lost Today), this delightful amble can be considered a solo effort, but members of Palast Orchester — utilizing ukulele, steel drum, light 70s sounding brass, etc. — play along in smaller combos at first until the album ends with an orchestra of over forty players. A recording full of wit, groove and charm — and some catchy tunes — has emerged, perfect for a summery Saturday afternoon — or better yet, to recreate one on a winter’s day. The title song of the album is an ode to chilling out: “I do not do anything at all, do not bend a finger, I stay at home and just lie around here.” Who doesn’t dream of such a day when there are no phone calls, and the most active thing is the fridge going on and off? He celebrates lovesick whiners (“Côte d’Azur”) and night-owl revelers (“I Like to Sing When the Moon Is Shining”). He sings of the woman by his side, the bicycle under his butt, luck that comes even as you lay on the sofa, and – in his trademark black-comedy – a hypochondriac (“Today I’ll Kill Myself”). Even though the CD is all in German, and there are no lyrics in English, Raabe manages to create in sound the very mood he writes about, which is quite an accomplishment. You may feel like getting in the car with the (euphemistic) top down and drive towards the (euphemistic) beach. This cheerful, carefree, exciting, relaxed music — even when melancholic or philosophical — is for dreaming and thinking (and if you take the time to translate the very smart lyrics, you’ll be amply rewarded). Now is the perfect moment to get this CD. ~ stageandcinema.com - Tony Frankel