Beginning my quest to listen through 1,001 albums that I supposedly need to listen to before I die. I think I'll go ahead and listen in chronological order, and I'll probably write about them all on here. The first album out of one-thousand-and-one feels like the first grain of sand in a great heaping pile. Nevertheless, the only way to listen to 1,001 albums and gain something out of it is by listening to each of them individually. And fortunately for me, the first album on the list is a pretty easy listen.
Frank Sinatra is an artist with a truly timeless appeal. Most people can turn on some Frank Sinatra and have an enjoyable experience whether they pay attention or not. It's music that is designed to sound pleasant, and doesn't really try to challenge the listener in the same way as many other styles of music do. This lack of challenge can be seen as a good or a bad thing depending on what you want music to be.
In The Wee Small Hours is a bit hard to talk about without saying things that can apply to most of Sinatra's music. This is a bit of a difficulty when it comes to crooner jazz artists, as the style is based on notions of what was aesthetically pleasing in the 50s and 60s, which leaves pretty little room for a diversity of sound. While the style is appealing, there is a reason why many have little interest in knowing more than the most popular songs.
Of course, that isn't to say that In The Wee Small Hours is bad. It's actually really good. While it's true that you can listen to any number of Frank Sinatra albums and hear something similar, it's also worth keeping in mind that this is one of his earlier albums, so the formula was much newer at this point. There is also a consistent theme of love-induced depression in the lyrics, which helps this album feel more cohesive and distinct from other vocal jazz albums. The theming also helps keep the album feeling relatable so long after its release.
While I listen through these 1,001 albums, I will be asking myself what I have learned or gained from each album. As for In The Wee Small Hours, it is a bit hard to say if there was much gained outside of the more surface level elements. I listened to an album filled with big jazz pieces about loneliness and in return felt a sort of somber acceptance of things. There is a very prominent romanticized feeling of loneliness and romantic hopelessness in this album, and it's something that I (and presumably many others) relate to quite a lot. All the while, the easy digestible sounds of Sinatra's voice over the orchestra provide a very comforting feeling within the darkness of the wee hours.
I really enjoyed listening through In The Wee Small Hours, and I think most people would gain at least mild pleasure from listening to it. I don't think it'll necessarily change your life or anything, but it's not the worst thing you can do if you have 50 minutes free.