Album review: Robbie Williams – Swings Both Ways

As Robbie Williams’ second album in the style of swing, Swings Both Ways is a fine example of how a straightforward pop star can take classic songs of the genre and work them into something modern, current sounding and explosively exciting.

The comparison between it’s highly successful predecessor are inevitable: Robbie’s first venture into this genre was the album Swing When You’re Winning. Featuring duets with Nicole Kidman, John Lovitz, Rupert Everett, Jonathan Wilkes and the legend that is Frank Sinatra, Swing When You’re Winning has sold over 10,565,000 copies since its release in November 2001.

While in the same swinging style, much more of Swings Both Ways was self penned by Robbie. While the former contains only one self penned song, the lonely and melancholic I Will Talk and Hollywood Will Listen, the latter has a much more even split between covers and originals.

Grooving open with the ballsy original song Shine My Shoes, the tone of the album is instantly set. Robbie puts in a blistering vocal against a load and proud brassy backdrop (full Shine My Shoes review here). Next up steps the heartfelt single Go Gentle. Written for his daughter, the song is soft yet meaningfully strong, a poignant message of strength and support (full Go Gentle review here).

The album is sprinkled with duets: Michael Buble, Rufus Wainwright and Kelly Clarkson all make appearances, but it’s Olly Murs’s cheeky vocals contribution on I Wan’na Be Like You that is one of the standout duets. A special mention should also go to Lily Allen’s who romances the listener with a sweetly alluring vocal on Dream a Little Dream (full Dream a Little Dream review here).

Some interesting little tidbits Swing Supreme is an effective and rather fitting rework of his 2000 hit Supreme, and also a certain Mr Gary Barlow is featured as co-writer and co-producer on bonus track Wedding Bells…possibly returning the favor for Robbie co-writing Requiem, the opening track of Gary’s new album Since I Saw You Last (review here).

As an album in the swing style, whether Swings Both Ways meets up to the sheer grandiose brilliance of Swing When You’re Winning is debatable. But as a Robbie Williams solo album it is a fun, exciting and exhilarating listen with some fantastic efforts to write songs match the top notch level of the classic swing covers that make up around half of the album.

Swings Both Ways is available in two versions: both standard and deluxe editions. The standard edition (with the blue cover) will contain 13 tracks while the deluxe edition (with the red cover) will contain an additional three tracks plus four exclusive videos.

You can buy both versions of the album iTunes, Amazon and any other digital music retailers. Also be sure to keep up to date on all the latest Robbie Williams news over on his official website.

Swings Both Ways

Shine My Shoes
Go Gentle
I Wan’na Be Like You (with Olly Murs)
Swing Supreme
Swings Both Ways (with Rufus Wainwright)
Dream a Little Dream (with Lily Allen)
Soda Pop (with Michael Buble)
Puttin’ on the Ritz
Little Green Apples (with Kelly Clarkson)
Minnie the Moocher
If I Only Had a Brain
No One Likes a Fat Pop Star

Where There’s Muck (Deluxe Edition bonus track)
16 Tons (Deluxe Edition bonus track)
Wedding Bells (Deluxe Edition bonus track)

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