Listen to this. Hugh Laurie has released an album, and it’s blues. This is an ex-Cambridge Footlights, white, British, bumbling Blackadder star covering such classics as Buddy Bolden Blues; the concept is terrifying.
Three minutes in to Let Them Talk, I discover that I’m imagining Jools Holland churning out a melancholy number with his band, or maybe Randy Newman chirping through the end credits of Toy Story 1…but nowhere in my psyche am I thinking of Hugh Laurie.
Then again, Laurie is now more associated with his role as Dr. Gregory House than as anybody else, so maybe he’s licensed to deliver his entire musical debut in an American drawl. Furthermore, he’s made it clear in interviews that he’s kidding no-one about the authenticity of his blues, ‘Let Them Talk’ is rather a celebration of the genre of music he loves.
It does make you wonder why actors and actresses get to sing about the music they love rather than act or talk about it. I didn’t get anything from Scarlett Johansson’s cover versions of Tom Waits apart from the affirmation that she likes Tom Waits, like many other people. It also reminded me that Tom Waits does Tom Waits best, and to be honest Let Them Talk affirms the idea that grass-root blues musicians can play the blues better than Hugh Laurie.