** 1/2 George Michael, “Songs From the Last Century,” Virgin. Pop stars as diverse as Linda Ronstadt, Natalie Cole and Sinead O’Connor have filled albums with reverent updates of pop standards. Here, Michael joins their ranks, covering classics ranging from Rodgers & Hart’s “Where or When” to Sting’s “Roxanne.” While Michael’s burnished tenor and flair for vocal drama make him a natural for show tunes, his fetchingly tender, surprisingly understated delivery of folk and rock ballads such as Ewan MacColl’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and U2’s “Miss Sarajevo” are high points. Neither the singer’s interpretations nor co-producer Phil Ramone’s graceful, nuanced orchestrations are exactly revelatory. Still, for those reeling from all the millennial hoopla, they’ll make for satisfying easy listening.
Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.