Boyzone have been around for ages haven’t they? For anyone that recalls their embarrassing dance moves from their very first TV performance, who would have thought they would have had such a successful music career and would still be being talked about 20 years later? Well, now they are older and a little wiser, and maybe not so tied down to the pop sound they were renowned for, they’ve decided to go in a new direction for their latest album Dublin to Detroit, by releasing a motown covers album. This is a brave step to take, so do the Irish lads with their hearts on their sleeves manage to pull it off?
First things first, you’re going to recognise most of these songs. They haven’t gone for the hidden gems; they’ve thrown themselves right in there with the motown big hitters. Tracks of my Tears takes a sombre tone with great vocal emotion before breaking into the instantly recognisable chorus; Ronan’s having fun here as lead singer and it really shows. I don’t think anyone could do a bad cover of Higher and Higher and the boys don’t disappoint here. Such a happy track will have you tapping your feet and dancing around like a loon in no time. Just My Imagination is one of the lesser-known tracks on the record, but this is exactly what makes it stand out as an album highlight. The band do a great job with warm and comforting vocals, perfectly suited for the slow nature of the song.
There are problems however throughout the record. On many of the songs they really haven’t tried to make them their own, and when you do that you can easily fall into the trap of just making the listener want to hear the original rather than the cover. What Becomes of the Broken Hearted has nice vocal harmonising, but the swapping of lead vocals drowns out the essence of the heartbreak, whereas You Can’t Hurry Love was always going to be a distant third choice behind The Supremes and Phil Collins efforts. Tears for a Clown’s main vocals seem a little drowned out amongst the many layers, and to finish off, for some strange reason, the band decided to end with a Christmas song. This makes for an odd climax to the album, with the only reason I can see why they did this was to make a few extra pennies and release it as a single over the festive period. Not the best way to finish a collection of non-festive songs in my opinion.
Overall Dublin to Detroit is an album of contrasts. On the one hand their vocals are usually strong and suit the music, but on the other hand, they haven’t made much attempt to make the tracks their own, and therefore failed to create something that many would go back to. Some might say Boyzone are in the twilight of their career. I’d say they still have more to give us, and as such I’d like to hear a new record of original material in the future to see if they’ve still got it.