Nothing says “holiday” quite like Engelbert Humperdinck, right? But wait! The Man I Want To Be is not the new holiday classic you didn’t know you needed this season. While it still might make a great soundtrack for the season and the ultimate stocking stuffer, The Man I Want To Be is actually a heartfelt ode to his wife of fifty-three years who is suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s. That said, what Engelbert release ISN’T heartfelt?
Fifty-three years of marriage and fifty years as a recording artist collectively celebrated within The Man… sees the iconic singer with that golden voice sounding as smooth, sexy, and poignant as ever as he tackles songs written by Jon Allen and Richard Marx, covers contemporary hits from Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran, and puts a new spin on standards from Willie Nelson and Eddy Arnold.
“Absolute Beginner” warms the heart immediately as this quiet acoustic number builds to an instant Humperdinck classic. The title track just sounds like home. Inviting and comforting as Humperdinck croons “You are the light/You are the sun/ You are the one right thing when my whole world is wrong” during the chorus with these sweeping strings that just tug on your heart and press on those tear ducts ever so slightly.
Then Humperdinck gets all modern as Bruno Mars “Just The Way You Are” gets the Engelbert treatment building to a huge break before quietly drifting away led by that unmistakable voice.
“How Can You Live With Yourself” has an outstanding climax propelled by strings and grand choruses almost in the vein of some of the more broad Oasis and The Beatles tunes while “Just Like The First Time” carries that conclusion into a song that is akin to a gorgeous film score from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
The Ed Sheeran hit “Photograph” is almost acapella with very subtle acoustics underneath until the soaring solos on “Prodigal Son” coupled with Humperdinck’s bombastic pipes recaptures those big sounds. “I’m Glad I Danced With You”, on the other hand, is a touching track penned by daughter Louise Dorsey and features a duet with Humperdinck’s granddaughter Olivia.
Willie Nelson’s “Crazy” has been turned on its head and turned into a Big Band anthem just as “On Broadway” has been given a twist mixing Samba sounds with Big Band elements yet again to give a fresh face to this indisputable mammer jammer of a song.