[Seth] MacFarlane is the rare revivalist who knows that the Great American Songbook is more than 100 pages thick, and it's his willingness to look deeper into the catalog that gives Music is Better Than Words its kick.
Well, not just that. Joel McNeely, who's worked up the myriad musical homages on Family Guy and MacFarlane's other shows, turns in sure-footed orchestral arrangements. Norah Jones makes the ideal red-eyed partner for the wry Hoagy Carmichael/Frank Loesser masterpiece "Two Sleepy People." And while Sara Bareilles -- the other duet partner, on "Love Won't Let You Get Away" -- is on less familiar ground than Jones, you sort of sense her growing into the role as the song goes along.
Fans of scatological (and worse) humor may be wondering, "What have they done with our Seth MacFarlane?"… even as they enjoy the private joke of being able to give their grandparents a Christmas gift recorded by this sometimes-scourge of the American right.
As for where the family-unfriendly Family Guy went amid all this wide-eyed romanticism, maybe that's him wondering (per Richard Rodgers) if "somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good."
It's definitely him singing the album's highlight, that classic, hilarious ode to promiscuity, "The Sadder But Wiser Girl." There's a reason this lesser-celebrated number from the supposedly wholesome play The Music Man never became a standard: It's still smuttier than anything MacFarlane ever came up with.
FULL REVIEW HERE: http://www.reuters.com/assets/print?aid ... 1Y20110927