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‘Love’: The Story Behind Michael Bublé’s Tenth Studio Album
In Depth

‘Love’: The Story Behind Michael Bublé’s Tenth Studio Album

Released following a period of personal upheaval, Michael Bublé’s ‘Love’ album rekindled the singer’s romance with the jazz songbook.

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With his velvet-smooth voice and a repertoire of songs mostly drawn from the revered pages of the Great American Songbook, Michael Bublé is an unapologetic devotee of the golden age of the crooner, when his idols Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin ruled the airwaves in their 40s and 50s heyday. But through Bublé made crooning cool again in the 21st century, he was not content to be regarded as a throwback artist whose nostalgic sound evoked another era. Savvy enough to realise that, for his career to thrive as well as merely survive, he needed to diversify, Bublé recorded an album, 2009’s Crazy Love, which saw him not only tackle contemporary-sounding pop songs but also, as the hit single Haven’t Met You Yet revealed, emerge as a talented songwriter who had a knack for an infectious vocal hook. A decade later, however, and following a family crisis, Bublé returned to the jazz classics with his 2018 album, Love, a project which became one of the closest to his heart.

This is the story of how the Love album rekindled Michael Bublé’s romance with the jazz songbook.

Listen to Michael Bublé’s ‘Love’ album here.

The backstory: “It’s been a little while, huh?”

In the years following the release of Crazy Love, a cool blend of classic and contemporary pop-music styles continued to pay off for the Canadian singer. After releasing his mega-selling Yuletide album, 2011’s Christmas – which not only became the biggest album of his career, but also one of the best Christmas albums of all time – Bublé returned with To Be Loved in 2013, featuring the self-penned hit single It’s A Beautiful Day, which further cemented his pop credentials and showed that the best Michael Bublé songs could transcended his crooner roots.

So, too, did Nobody But Me, released three years later. Though it contained some impeccable performances of jazz standards, the album’s two singles – the title track, featuring former Roots rapper Black Thought, and I Believe In You – continued to carve out a fearlessly adventurous path for the singer, proving that Bublé had his finger firmly on the pulse of contemporary pop. He also flashed his entrepreneurial credentials by launching an aftershave, Michael Bublé Pour Homme.

Two years elapsed before Bublé’s next project, his tenth album, Love, whose title was represented on the cover by a simple red heart emoji. It had come after an intensely trying time for Bublé and his wife, the actress Luisana Lopilato, both of whom had put their careers on pause in 2016, to focus their attention on their oldest son, Noah, then three, who had been diagnosed with a form of liver cancer. It was a fraught, soul-searching time for the then 43-year-old singer, who confessed he considered abandoning music entirely to care for his son.

Thankfully, with treatment, Noah’s condition improved and his cancer went into remission, allowing Bublé to return to the studio to make an album whose title not only encapsulated the feelings he felt for his son, but which also expressed his gratitude to all those who gave support during a trying time, including family, medical staff, fans and well-wishers.

Bublé unveiled his Love album – whose working title was My Romance – during a Facebook Live stream, beginning his announcement with the words, “It’s been a little while, huh?” – a casual acknowledgement of the serious events that had put his career on hold for almost two years.

The concept: “I wanted to explain that it was my romance rekindled”

With his son’s health improving, Bublé began thinking about his next album and, to get the ball rolling, invited members of his band to his Vancouver home for an informal jam session, which was punctuated by playing a few rounds of Mario Kart. “I hadn’t seen them in a long time,” he told CTV News. “We just wanted to get drunk, you know? Drink beers and play video games.”

Despite the fun and laughter, Bublé, who said Noah’s illness had tested his love affair with music, proposed the idea of a concept album that would help revive his love of song and singing. “I wanted to explain that it was my romance rekindled,” the singer said, adding: “I wanted there to be a really strong through-line.”

The songs: “My end game was to create a series of short cinematic stories”

What he came up with was a song cycle comprised mainly of cover versions – the type of songs that had originally ignited his passion for music and performing. They ranged from imperishable jazz standards such as My Funny Valentine – reimagined as if it were a James Bond movie theme – and When You’re Smiling to country star Kris Kristofferson’s Help Me Make It Through The Night. Bublé explained: “My end game for the new record was to create a series of short cinematic stories for each song I chose and have it stand on its own.”

Unlike his previous four studio albums, Bublé made few concessions to contemporary pop on Love, except for updated arrangements of classic songs. He did, however, include two brand-new tunes. One was the emotive and uplifting ballad Forever Now, which he co-wrote and which expressed his love for his son, Noah. The other was Love You Anymore, a storytelling pop-rock ballad whose flowing melody was ideal for Bublé’s smooth vocal tones. “The moment I first heard Love You Anymore, I knew right away that I had to record it and put it on my new record,” he said.

The recording: “It was really fun to get the rust off and start moving”

The Love album’s recording sessions took place at several big studios, ranging from Capitol Studios and The Village Recorder, in Los Angeles, to London’s famous Abbey Road Studios. At the helm was Bublé’s longtime associate and mentor, David Foster.

Bublé owed producer David Foster – a fellow Canadian who had famously produced Céline Dion, Whitney Houston and Barbra Streisand – a debt of gratitude. Though Foster was initially reluctant to sign the Burnaby-born singer to his record label back in 2002, claiming he “didn’t know how to market this kind of music”, he eventually relented, and helped transform the young singer into a star.

But by 2018, Foster, then 69, was seeking a quieter life and had given up the recording studio. Just as Bublé had persuaded Foster to sign him all those years ago, however, the singer lured Foster out of retirement. “I don’t know that he would’ve come out of retirement for anyone else,” Bublé told an interviewer, adding: “We both kept saying, ‘I’m so rusty, I haven’t been in here for a long time.’ It was really fun to get the rust off and start moving.”

The release: “I’m really proud of what we’ve created”

Energised by his son’s recovery and driven by a renewed passion for music, Bublé called Love his “most romantic record to date”. He was eager to share it with the world, unleashing a taster, a version of Nat King Cole’s When I Fall In Love, as a single in September 2018, two months before the album’s release. “I can’t wait for my fans to hear the entire album because I’m really proud of what we’ve created this time out,” he said, barely concealing his excitement about his new record and his return to performing.

After two years out of the spotlight, Bublé jumped into promoting Love with gusto, appearing on several prime-time British TV programmes, including The Graham Norton Show and The X Factor, and a Carpool Karaoke segment on Stand Up to Cancer. His commitment to promoting the album paid off handsomely, with Love shooting to top of the UK albums chart upon its release, on 16 November 2018, making it Bublé’s fourth British No.1 album. It eventually went platinum in the UK, as well as in the singer’s native Canada, where it also topped the charts and cemented Michael Bublé’s place in the pantheon of the Maple Leaf country’s greatest music stars – a returning victor among the best jazz singers of his era.

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