Hugh Laurie: Let Them Talk

Let Them Talk

(Hugh Laurie)
Release Date: 
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Did You Know?

Hugh Laurie also plays Dr. Gregory House on the Emmy Award-winning series House.

It takes a massive amount of chutzpah for the highest paid English actor on dramatic American television to make a blues album with a straight face. The good thing is that Hugh Laurie acknowledges this in the liner notes of Let Them Talk: "Actors are supposed to act, and musicians are supposed to music." There, it's out of the way.

What's left is a surprisingly earnest, quality blues album with Laurie's take on some classic blues songs of the American south. He doesn't have the best voice for blues -- which is to say it's not scratchy, unique, or altogether flawed --  but it's not totally terrible either. He has good breath control, even tone, and can sustain a note clearly, which in any other genre would be great; blues is usually the place for singers who have no other place. Let's be real, would Louis Armstrong even have had a career if it weren't for the blues?

From the instrumental intro to "St. James Infirmary" to the somewhat somber final farewell "Let Them Talk," Laurie shows that he's a double threat -- can't really comment on his dancing ability, somewhat in part to the fact that his most well-known role involves a cane. He may not be able to sing like Pavarotti (or Ray Charles, for that matter), but he can tinkle a fine ivory to be certain. Good blues piano takes a certain amount of intuition and looseness while still being able to stay within the framework the other musicians are setting up. "You Don't Know My Mind," "St. James Infirmary," "Six Cold Feet," and "After You're Gone" (which features some really fine clarinet playing) are all standout tracks, the "bluesier" among the bunch. I need some serious minor chords with my blues, and these particular songs deliver.

In addition to Laurie, there's a venerable cast of blues musicians who help the actor become a believable musician. Great vocalists and instrumentalists alike really help to make the whole thing something besides a vanity project. Overall, a solid first album in what I expect to become a discography, considering the huge success of this album.

Review by Patty Miranda