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Michael Bublé: Call Me Irresponsible

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Navigating one of the sharpest ascents since Sinatra wowed the bobbysoxers, Vancouver crooner Michael Bublé’s blend of simmering charm and pop perspicuity often appears manufactured with assembly-line precision. Still, there’s no denying the guy’s got his finger on the populist pulse.

Comparisons to Sinatra have been both plentiful and, perhaps, inevitable-this latest disc includes “That’s Life”-but the truth is that, in terms of both style and attitude, he more closely resembles the greatest Sinatra wannabe of all time, Bobby Darin, particularly here on a finger-snappin’ “The Best is Yet to Come.” But Bublé also suggests the caramel-smooth creaminess of Steve Lawrence, the sensual warmth of Vic Damone, the swingin’ bravura of Dean Martin and the boyish showmanship of Wayne Newton.

Like those fellows, Bublé can handle pretty much any standard; and here we get predictably fine renditions of the title track, “Dream,” “I’ve Got the World on a String,” “Always on My Mind” and Mercer and Mancini’s spicy “It Had Better Be Tonight.” Elsewhere, the results are more mixed. A dreamy interpretation of Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” with Ivan Lins is lovely but lacks the Clapton grit that originally made its syrupy sentiment tolerable. Likewise, a peach-fuzz version of “Comin’ Home Baby,” performed with Boyz II Men, misses the predatory heat that defined Mel Tormé’s definitive reading.

Conversely, Bublé manages to sidestep the expected cheese when he repackages “Me and Mrs. Jones,” and he lines Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man” with the dark urgency it deserves. As for the two originals, again the vote is split. “Lost,” a moody paean to fading love penned with fellow Canadian Jann Arden, is unoriginal; but the peppy “Everything,” which owes a significant melodic debt to Jobim’s “Waters of March,” is catchy in a Cole Porter way.