Album Review – Duets With My American Idols – Oleg Frish
Oleg Frish has been around for a while. The critically acclaimed talk show host moved from Russia to New York 20 years ago, and since that time, he has interviewed over 2,000 musical superstars and celebrities on his show on Russian Television International. Oleg has held American music in high regards for years and years, even going so far as to call The American Songbook “the greatest music ever recorded.” Frish has had a very busy 2016 thus far with the release of his new album, Duets With My American Idols. The album itself is 14 tracks of pure, unapologetic American gold; 10 lovingly crafted covers performed by Frish and some of his greatest influences, as well as 4 incredible original works. There is an incredible amount of variety on show in this opus, yet the cohesion present throughout is remarkable.
The album begins with a foreword introduction by the great Connie Francis, who has been described by Oleg as one of his biggest “American Idols.” Right afterwards, the album kicks off firing on all cylinders with “Sunny”, performed with the assistance of BJ Thomas. The track’s brass section and groovy percussion really set the tone for the album, finding it’s footing squarely in the center of the songbook the album gives so much credit to. Frish’s vocals really have a chance to show off here, and I can’t help but notice how natural he blends into the masterful performance Thomas delivers.
Another extremely noteworthy performance on the album is that of the late Ben E. King. King’s untimely death makes this his last known recording, adding an extra layer of emotional weight to this masterful reproduction. The track is also a standout on the instrumentation side of things, with incredible horns and an expertly crafted groove carries us through the short but sweet tribute to an American classic. Oleg holds his own on this track, though it isn’t one of his best performances on the record. Conversely, his performance on the classic hit “Hello, Dolly!” is every bit the perfect representation of the love and adoration he feels for classical American tunes. Hearing the famous lines sang in a Frish’s distinctive Russian suave makes for an overwhelmingly joyous experience.
While many of the covers on the album are standouts on their own, the real star of Duets With My American Idols aren’t the duets at all. Oleg’s original tracks are crafted with an extra helping of the singer-songwriters signature sound, a sound that has shaped his identity and allowed him to sell out performances all over New York City. These 4 tracks, and particularly “The Things We Did Last Summer” may not be breaking any new ground sonically, but the quality of the production and the heart involved in the vocal productions will mean that these tracks are destined to last.
Oleg Frish has exploded onto the scene in 2016 with Duets With My American Idols. It is an album that positively exudes the Russian signers love for the American Golden Age of music, and cements the effort into the annals of time as an incredible tribute, and a memorable listen from start to finish.
Review by Tyler Cooper