A measured shot of dignity, “I Can’t Stop Loving You” is immediately obvious as the work of an adult and a craftsman. Charles was 32 in 1962, and sounds twice that age as he steps carefully, resigned and brokenhearted, through this record. Like a lot of adult, crafted music it lasts maybe a verse too long, and like a lot of contemporary pop it could have done with reining in the strings a bit, but those are really its only flaws. The backing vocals, for instance, work fine, admitting the truths Charles’ own tightly controlled performance cannot – he never actually sings the song’s title himself, leaving it as an unspoken fact underpinning his grief. And the core arrangement – that mix of gospel support and country lachrymosity – remains startling.

Score: 7

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