When I first heard this in the bookstore where I work, I didn't know that Seal was the person singing the first track on the album, "Mona Lisa." I thought it was Nat King Cole because, as an act of impression or as a tribute, Seal's voice is amazingly like Cole's on the track.
Looking at the rest of the album and seeing that it allowed several modern musicians an opportunity to channel singers from the 1950's, I was impressed at how dead-on a lot of the songs were.
Tori Amos' "Murder, He Says," originally performed by Betty Hutton in one of the old MGM musicals, is an amusing, catchy tune. Celine Dion manages, with "Bewitched," to remind me of how talented she is - though her solo albums are frequently overproduced, tacky and annoying. Kelly Rowland and Mandy Moore offer up stunning, period-evoking covers of "I'm Beginning to See the Light" and "Secret Love," respectively. Chris Isaak's "Besame Mucho" is lush and romantic. And Macy Gray's "Santa Baby" catches the right mood, echoing sensuality and good humor.
I've recommended this to all sorts of people. With the flux of swing-revival albums coming out lately, from Rod Stewart's to Cyndi Lauper's, the soundtrack to "Mona Lisa Smile" deserves special attention. It's spectacular.