Review: "The Man I Want to Be" - Engelbert Humperdinck

by Jeremy Williams-Chalmers, Music-News.com

Engelbert Humperdinck is an artist who has time and again proved that success is not achieved by simply chasing the latest trends. At nearly 82 years of age, Engelbert is still constantly on the road touring 50 years worth of hits. Celebrated for his easy styling, which leans on a trad pop feel with the occasional borrowing of schlager styling, the crooner is wasting no time in following up his celebratory retrospective collection, 50, from earlier this year with the touching The Man I Want To Be.

Crafted as a love letter to his wife of 53 years, Patricia, who is suffering from Parkinson's Disease, The Man I Want To Be is a touching collection of originals with two unexpected covers, Ed Sheeran's Photograph and Bruno Mars' Just The Way You Are and a closing section of standard covers from his live show. A moving story of love, this is not simply an overwrought outpouring of sentiment, but also has tender moments of self-reflection to accompany it's touching nostalgia.

Although Engelbert's voice is not quite as powerful as in his hey day, the ageing process has been kind to him and the lack of power adds a touching sentimentality to his tone. It is one that works well within the concept of the release, which could easily have felt too soppy, but instead is heightened by the depth of emotional reality in the release.

With Just Like The First Time offering the most direct reference to his wife's illness, it is only challenged for album highlight status by the truly impressive reworking of Ed Sheeran's Photograph. On paper the cover may have sounded a little odd, but the reality is more moving than the original.

Engelbert proves on The Man I Want To Be that he is still able to make a powerful and poignant recording.

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