Minnie Driver – Ask Me to Dance [Album Review]
I fell in love with Minnie Driver on two occasions. The first was when she played Megan Mullally’s rival/stepdaughter on Will & Grace, and then again when she portrayed a thieving version of herself on Absolutely Fabulous. When I came across her third studio album on Spotify, I was enchanted by the talented actress. Ask Me to Dance contained covers of many great songs, which included Driver’s unique takes on songs from The Killers, Stevie Wonder and more. From folksy sounds to jazz that featured breathy vocals, every track offered an interesting vibe and interesting sound.
The album starts off with a cover of Elliott Smith‘s “Waltz #2 (XO)” with whom Driver became acquainted with while filming Good Will Hunting. Musically structured, the song is quite reaching from its original counterpart but Driver’s haunting voice evokes longing for companionship. Perhaps one of my favorites on the album lies in a cover of The Cure‘s “Close to Me.” The remake alludes to the original in some areas, but is transformed into a lounge version while maintaining the ability to sway along to it. About why she covered it, Driver said the original was the only song boys would ever ask her to dance to when she was younger — hence the album title — and has fond memories of dancing to it. The acoustic approach to Stevie Wonder‘s “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” features the Oscar nominated actress slightly singing with a reggae effect, a nod to the original. A surprise tune I loved was Driver’s country take on The Killers‘ “Human.” It is radically different from the Brandon Flowers penned tune and I love it. Another drastic reimagining was “Fly Me to the Moon.” The story behind the cover is that Driver’s father saw her mother for the first time come in from the rain with the song playing. Before hearing it, Driver imagined it to be a sultry jazz and was slightly taken aback at the swing version Frank Sinatra released. Now releasing it on her album, Driver envisioned the song with sultry vocals and trumpets, giving it the feel and sound she imagined.
“Better Be Home Soon” has more of a kick to it than the original, and feels more in tune with an indie track. I’m honestly shocked that I haven’t adjusted to the singer’s takes, because each song takes on a life of its own. Like its preceding song, “Wild Wood” is more amped up and moodier than Paul Weller‘s 1993 soft rock track, akin to an 80s danceable hit. . Once more, Driver’s version of “Tell Me Why” differs from Neil Young’s, with the former’s being a ballad against the 1970 folk song. Though it serves as the slowest song, Driver delivers. The worried tone in “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness” evokes that sense of dread that love is changing and for a moment, I believed that, I too, was going to have complications in a romance that doesn’t exist. The album ends on the haunting and stark “Love Song.” Restricted to a piano, the bare production leaves Driver vocal and raw about the titular emotion.
Minnie Driver can do it all. Extremely talented and well versed in choosing songs that reflect on her musical skills, Ask Me to Dance is a blend of the star’s life. We’ve all had moments in life where we’d like to define it by a song, and by choosing and covering several songs from far and wide, Driver captures the spirit of it. From reminiscing about her youth to the more somewhat recent songs she’s tried out for herself, Driver enchants and I can’t help but fall in love for a third time. Her vocal delivery seems effortless, the musicians accompanying equally talented, and the choices of songs a stellar combination, Minnie Driver can do no wrong. The essence of life is captured in ten wonderful songs that each coexist peacefully with each other.
Ask Me to Dance is available to purchase on iTunes.