Buble stuck in the middle on 8th album

Michael Buble, “To Be Loved” (Reprise Records)

Canadian crooner Michael Buble projects a strange dichotomy in his eighth studio album, “To Be Loved.” It combines old and new, happy and blue, romance and more romance. His evident penchant for the golden standards, which he covers with aplomb, is what saves the record from sounding too modernly hollow. It’s also the reason it sounds uneven, meandering from harried contemporary pop like “Close Your Eyes” to the smooth, seductive Dean Martin tune “Nevertheless (I’m in Love With You).”

The four originals on the 14-track album were all co-written by Buble, but apart from his joie de vivre and emotive voice, they mostly fail to capture the imagination. Not even the Bryan Adams collaboration on “After All,” or Buble’s deceivingly upbeat single, “It’s a Beautiful Day,” can save it from a big yawn chain.

Buble is at his best when reclaiming beloved classics as his own. Frank Sinatra’s “Come Dance With Me” becomes playful and electric in his interpretation. Some songs, like the unexpected duet with Reese Witherspoon on “Something Stupid,” are wild cards that can bring down the house.

Yet it’s Buble’s love for middle 20th-century music that keeps this album in the middle of the road: As an artist, Buble needs to become his own man.