Album: Hugh Laurie, Let Them Talk (Warner Bros)

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The Independent Culture

Usually, actors' albums should be avoided as carefully as pop stars' movies; but Hugh Laurie's New Orleans tribute Let Them Talk may be the exception that proves the rule.

For one thing, he knows his Crescent City music modes inside-out, from R&B classics like "St James Infirmary" and "John Henry" to the distinctive rumba-rock piano of Professor Longhair's "Tipitina". For another, he plays with effortless charm; and clinching the deal, the producer Joe Henry has surrounded Laurie with the right musicians, using the session crew from all those T-Bone Burnett productions, and NOLA legend Allen Toussaint scoring the horns. With the slight caveat that Laurie's vocals never quite cast off their Englishness (and why should they?), this is a commendable effort which at its best furnishes considerable enjoyment.

DOWNLOAD THIS You Don't Know My Mind; They're Red Hot; Tipitina; Let Them Talk