Entertainment Weekly

Subscribe

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Article

Play

Posted on

Play

type:
Music
Current Status:
In Season
performer:
Brad Paisley
genre:
Country

We gave it a B-

Now that the ”Don’t Worry, Be Happy” craze is tucked into the past alongside the pet rock, vocalist Bobby McFerrin seems to be resuscitating his old reputation as a musician’s musician, releasing collaborative albums with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, one of classical music’s biggest names, and pianist Chick Corea, one of jazz’s biggest. As usual with McFerrin, the album contain moments of real artistry amid long stretches of annoying jive. The Yo-Yo Ma collaboration, Hush, is actively painful, consisting mainly of voice-and-cello versions of stale classics (even ”Flight of the Bumblebee,” for cripe’s sakes), all supposedly made intriguing because McFerrin sings what’s usually played (far better) on an instrument. Same problem with Play, made with Corea. People marvel because McFerrin can sing jagged jazz melodies, but as this live-concert album demonstrates, he often can’t sing them — at least not in his frequently out-of-tune upper register — a drawback all the more grating next to Corea’s superb piano. Most exasperating is that buried somewhere in the middle of Hush is a piece McFerrin wrote called ”Coyote,” a wordless track full of night winds and Navajo-tinged chant — as killingly beautiful as anything you’re apt to hear. But who’s going to wade through the cutesiness to find it? B-