Kylie Minogue The Abbey Road Sessions
Although Kylie Minogue is a massive global superstar, the pop icon tends to dominate just the dance charts in the U.S. It’s nothing short of criminal that she isn’t more of a household name. She’s a consummate performer—her elaborate stage productions and costume changes make Lady Gaga’s concerts look minimal—and she has a fantastic voice, sultry and sweet in equal measure.
The Abbey Road Sessions, a collection of hits reworked by an orchestra and Minogue’s backing band to celebrate her 25th year in music, makes a solid case for her longevity. Stripped of their peppy pop and hi-NRG disco sheen, these songs are transformed into timeless, classy compositions.
Brushed drums and gentle piano magnify the heartbreak of “Hand On Your Heart”; lyrics such as “Oh, I wanna hear you tell me / You don’t want my love” sound pleading, not defiant. The romantic “On A Night Like This” turns into a brassy R&B torch song thanks to a soaring gospel choir and dramatic strings, while fanciful orchestras and wistful vocals make “I Should Be So Lucky” into a Broadway-esque ballad, and “Locomotion” is a horn-driven, Motown-inspired romp.
Minogue’s expressive performances are perhaps more impressive than The Abbey Road Sessions’ musical reinventions. The album’s quieter, sparser arrangements give her leeway for nuanced vocal interpretations. Seductive bass twangs and breathy vocal coos make “Slow” even more of a slinky come-on. “Come Into My World” sounds like early Tori Amos, courtesy of a coquettish delivery and classical-inspired piano, while on the sedate, bluesy “Better The Devil You Know,” Minogue sounds slightly weary as she sings about taking back a rascally suitor.
Still, the album’s highlight is “Where The Wild Roses Grow,” which is stripped down to just acoustic guitar and vocals. Nick Cave reprises his part on the murder ballad, and his Johnny Cash-like gravelly intonations—when paired with Minogue’s hushed, resigned affectation—make this version even creepier and more macabre than the original. Such emotional resonance won’t be news to any loyal Minogue fans, but anyone who has considered her merely a lightweight dance diva will be surprised by the depth on display throughout the record.