THE BIRD AND THE BEE > Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1

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THE BIRD AND THE BEE

Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates

(BLUE NOTE)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Doe-eyed singer Inara George and keyboardist Greg Kurstin didn’t have to alter their established velvety, techno-pop when tackling eight of Hall & Oates’ biggest hits, along with one similarly styled original. Rather the Bird & the Bee’s already lush vibe replaces the rock and soul in these immaculately crafted songs with a slightly schlocky, post-bachelor pad lounge approach, amazingly without a hint of irony.

It’s clear the male/female twosome loves these classics and treats them with respect while slicking up their melodies. Gone is the Motown drive of “Maneater,” replaced with space age bloops and bleeps between George’s husky voice. She bleeds the R&B, but not the emotion, out of the material, slathering her honeyed pipes over the tunes with the kind of sweet nothings Karen Carpenter pretty much defined.

The concept occasionally gets too gimmicky, especially on the cheesy backing to “Rich Girl,” but George sounds terrific grounding Kurstin’s keyboard squiggles with the sheer beauty of her voice. The ballads are more effective than the upbeat selections that often seem forced, but if you’re a fan of the act’s previous two albums, this short 30 minute detour into ’70s radio pop is a pleasant if slight diversion.