Dutch singing star Traincha makes a polished bid for the big time with a survey of the Burt Bacharach songbook.
Released in Holland in late 2006, This Girl's In Love notched up platinum-rated sales and gave Traincha – real name: Judith Katrijntje Oosterhuis – her first solo number one a decade after she first shot to fame with Dutch pop outfit Total Touch.
On paper, there's a lot going for it. Made with the full collaboration of Bacharach himself, it boasts elegantly skilful arrangements by Pat Williams and Vince Mendoza (who also directs the Metropole Orchestra) and was recorded and mixed by the legendary Al Schmidt. But... and it's a rather big but: for all the attention to detail and the overall sweep and grounded grandeur of the material, Traincha underplays the songs to the point of virtual anonymity.
It's a little unfortunate that album openers Do You Know The Way To San Jose and Look Of Love risk immediate comparison with Dionne Warwick. From there on it's difficult to shake off the echo of other voices as one song follows another. There's an admirable perfection about it all but on closer inspection the patina is thin, fragile and cracked.
Traincha does well with a cover of Etta James' Waiting For Charlie To Come Home but no better than, say, Michael Bolton might have. Less well, however, with the second Bacharach choice, the Elvis Costello co-penned This House Is Empty Now, which sounds airbrushed and freeze-packed.
Where a rather semi-detached I Say A Little Prayer exposes a lack of colour and emotional gravity in Traincha's cooing vocals, the downplayed pace of They Long To Be (Close To You) sounds like an inappropriately twee song at a funeral, and Alfie, in Mendoza's Grammy-nominated arrangement, just lacks the punch and power of familiar versions by Warwick and Cilla Black.
Album closer, What The World Needs Now, gets close to something interesting but it needs a bigger, more characterful voice than Traincha can summon up. And more emotion, too.
Beautifully made it may be, but even with the backing of both Bacharach and Blue Note, this is a disappointing disc.