Don’t Mess with Mr. In-Between

The Puppini Sisters, The High Life – This is the group’s first new album in five years, with Emma Smith replacing Stephanie O’Brien. They do a combination of old standards and more recent pop songs, all in a swing style with a lot of influence from the Andrews Sisters. Their last album was all older stuff except for one track, but with this one they’re back to the rearrangements, including the late David Bowie’s “Changes,” “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” and a mash-up of “Rappers Delight” and Sia’s “Chandelier.” I’m pretty sure I hadn’t heard the Sia song until I purposely sought it out today, so the Puppinis are obviously more up on recent music than I am. The new arrangements are amusing in how different they are from the originals, but they also work quite well on their own. Another track is a medley of various songs about women wanting men to spend money on them. Much of it alternates between “Bills, Bills, Bills” by Destiny’s Child (a song also covered on the latest They Might Be Giants album) and Megan Trainor’s “Dear Future Husband,” but later works in “Money” from Cabaret, Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” (although they don’t actually sing the word “bitch”), and of course Madonna’s “Material Girl.” Covers of older songs include “Tennessee Waltz,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from Mary Poppins (with a bit of “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain” mixed in), and a take on “Hit the Road Jack” with the Pledge Orchestra. I’m surprised they hadn’t done “Accentuate the Positive” before. I tend to associate that song with “I’ve Got Rhythm,” which appeared on the last Puppini album, probably because both warn the listener away from an anthropomorphic personification. I wonder if Old Man Trouble and Mr. In-Between know each other. Three original compositions round out the mix, and it really sounds like the singers are having a lot of fun on all of the songs. I think Marcella Puppini has a solo album out as well, but I don’t have that yet.

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