When Nancy Sinatra performed in Oslo in 2002, Norwegian newspaper VG carried a front-page photo with the headline “Tragic”. Yet when she performed this year at Morrissey’s Meltdown in London, a wander through the auditorium during the legendary “These Boots Were Made For Walking”elicited scenes reminiscent of a walkabout by Robbie Williams. Style rules over substance, in the capital at least. And it’s undoubtedly style rather than content that’s on show on this quasi-comeback album, for which she dresses herself in the musical equivalent of the finest threads. Here the songs are penned by veterans like Bono, Jon Spencer, Thurston Moore and, of course, her unlikely neighbour Morrissey. Nancy has often rested on others’ laurels, whether her father’s or writers like Lee Hazlewood’s, and this time is no different. It’s easy to forget, given how iconoclastic Nancy is these days, that her standing centres upon only a small amount of music. Certainly she made many records, but few are memorable.
Here she’s once again dependent upon her collaborators, and the truth is that few can match the skills it took to draw the best out of her. Calexico and Jarvis Cocker fare best simply by apeing Hazlewood, though Thurston Moore’s contribution is striking by sounding like nothing else she’s ever done (though like most of what he has done). But much of the album lacks cohesion, and even seems lazy: Bono and The Edge’s tune was originally written for Ol’ Blue Eyes himself. There’s no trading on Dad’s reputation here, then… It’s left to the relatively unknown Reno to rescue things with “Bossman”, its massive chorus finally allowing Nancy to display some character, and “About A Fire”, which echoes? & The Mysterians'”96 Tears”. That this is the only uncredited song on the promotional CD seems to emphasise that Nancy doesn’t know where her strengths lie.