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Freddy Cole: In the Name of Love

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Tough as it is to ignore the soft echo of Nat “King” Cole whenever his kid brother sings, it’s patently unfair to dismiss Freddy as merely a pale replica. The younger Cole, still smooth as warm butterscotch at age 71, has carved out a distinctly impressive career, often traveling more adventurous musical paths than his celebrated sibling. Witness, for instance, In the Name of Love, Cole’s third for Telarc. Polishing an eclectic assortment of semiprecious contemporary gems, he does an admirable job of reminding us that there were oases in the pop wasteland of the ’70s and ’80s.

Excavating such treasures as Boz Scaggs’ languid “Harbor Lights” (not to be confused with the Platters chestnut of the same name), Smokey Robinson’s joyful “Just to See Her” and Van Morrison’s hypnotic “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You,” Cole enlivens each with his rugged tenderness. Channeling his inner Lou Rawls, he revisits the cloying “Lady Love,” pumicing its corny edges with some welcome grit. He also plays the proud papa, savoring the delicate beauty of “Save a Little Time for Me,” written by his son, Lionel.

The album’s highlight remains, though, a velvety rendition of Brazilian composer Ivan Lins’ “Remember Me” that pairs Cole with chanteuse du jour Jane Monheit with shimmering results.