On “The Abbey Road Sessions,” Kylie Minogue takes a handful of her biggest pop hits and reworks them into grand, symphonic tunes with help from a full orchestra and the wonderful acoustics of Abbey Road Studios. It’s a grown-up album, free of the glitzy production and pulsing, electronic dance beats that permeate her studio recordings. It’s also a showcase for Miss Minogue’s vocals, which sound thin and girlish on her albums but take on a grown-up, soulful resonance here.
There are a few mistakes. “Locomotion” is given a vintage girl-group makeover, which makes it different from Miss Minogue’s 1988 cover but pretty much identical to the 1960s original. A similar problem plagues “Where the Wild Roses Grow,” a 1995 duet with Nick Cave that sounds more or less unchanged in its Abbey Road makeover. Why rerecord these songs if the new arrangements don’t put some sort of clever, unexpected spin on the initial version?
“Slow” is different, though, an electro-pop hit turned into a slow, smoky ballad steeped in jazz, lounge and blues textures. It sounds like the soundtrack to a film noir, and Miss Minogue appropriately vamps up her singing, whispering the chorus like a 1940s femme fatale. On “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” the string section plays short, accented chords where the drums used to be, a move that evokes the symphonic intro to Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida.”
Who knew Miss Minogue’s hits had this sort of depth? Moody and cinematic, “The Abbey Road Sessions” proves there’s more in this pop singer’s arsenal than pulsing electronica and contemporary disco.