Arguably, Jeff Lynne’s greatest attribute is his incredibly distinct sound. It transcends his work with ELO and comes to define his second solo album, Long Wave, out this week (October 9). And make no mistake, that is no easy feat, as Long Wave is a covers album.
“I suppose it’s the diversity of all those old songs on Long Wave that really was so much fun to me,” Lynne tells CBS Local. “They were like beautiful oil paintings, these tunes. And what I had to do was really hone in to the nth degree just to hear the guitar parts though all the other parts. Then learn the guitar part, then the bass part, the piano part. It’s like exploring, like going to university for music.”
Long Wave could be considered Lynne’s stab at Rod Stewart’s tried-and-true American Songbook model of late-career resurgence, but like the musician-producer himself, it’s a little off. The album is not exclusively comprised of standards, though there are a handful including Etta James’ “At Last” and Nat King Cole’s “Smile.” Rather, Lynne balances his crooner fascination with rockabilly and rhythm & blues, featuring songs from Chuck Berry and his Traveling Wilburys bandmate Roy Orbison.
“I really wanted to do as diversified as possible because I like so many different styles of music,” Lynne says. “These guys – the old-fashioned songwriters – are just amazing. When you have beautiful words as well as a beautiful melody and fantastic chords, you can’t go wrong, really.”
Lynne recorded the album other the course of three years, during which time he simultaneously completed a re-recording of his biggest ELO hits dubbed Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of ELO (also out this week). With the exception of background vocals on a handful of songs, Lynne plays every instrument on both albums. He remains utterly upbeat about the experience, referring to the recording sessions as “fun” numerous times. However, that doesn’t mean he didn’t encounter any challenges along the way.
“The hardest one was ‘Beyond the Sea’ [first made famous by Bobby Darin] because of the arrangement being so wacky,” Lynne says. “It already sounded like it was 20 years before it was made, when it was made. That’s the sort of thing I try to do – make things sound old with the way you record them – which is sort of why I chose it.”
Lynne expects to have another new album – this time, of originals – out in 2013.
– Jillian Mapes, CBS Local