In an age of increasing interconnection, where every taste and preference can exist and be catered to in its own exclusive little corner of the internet, and fads flare and fade with ever quickening speed, it can be easy to forget the musical phenomena that defined past ages and the influence they exerted on the contemporary scene. While disco’s heyday is long over, and its sounds and imagery now used for ironic humour, it influenced the sound of EDM which itself has gone on to influence the shape of pop music. It is with an awareness of this legacy that Australian actress and singer Samantha Jade releases her collection of disco homages, Best of My Love.
In the way that absence makes the heart grow fonder, the anti-disco pushback has all but faded from memory, but with Best of My Love Jade still needs to grapple with the fact that cover albums are difficult beasts to tame. Love or hate disco, but ABBA’s Dancing Queen is a classic song known by all, so there are no half-measures when covering the song. You either offer a drastic reinterpretation or you strictly adhere to the original, yet Jade’s rendition manages to fall into the gulf between changing a song too much and not changing it enough.
A better outcome is achieved on the Bee Gees’ How Deep is Your Love, with that track’s guitar sound working well and Jade providing a solid vocal performance. She occasionally resorts to showiness, but this probably reflects the fact that she is one singer trying to compete with the Gibb’s brothers famous harmonies. Lead single and title track, Best of My Love, is adequate – although the 2018 mix provided to conclude the album is not – though Jade’s vocals don’t really land, unlike on Diana Ross’ Upside Down which sees Jade linger around the lower end of her register.
I Feel Love by Donna Summer receives a weak and unimaginative makeover, with this version lacking the airiness of the original, while I’m Coming Out – another classic from Ross – stands out for its fun atmosphere which results in the song disappearing in the blink of an eye. Two original songs make their way onto the record, second single Roller Skates and Let Me Love You. Both songs are unambiguously contemporary pop, a demonstration of disco’s legacy, but break the retro vibe of the album and pushes out the runtime for no tangible benefit. Over its fourteen tracks and forty-seven minutes, Best of My Love fails to do anything exciting and a bit more of an adventurous streak would have served Jade well.