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CD-Review-Rita-Wilson-AMFM-2012

 

Rita Wilson
AM/FM

 

By Todd Jolicouer

 

Is anyone else sick of singers that think they can act or actors that think they can sing? Just when I think I have had my fill of them, a release comes across my desk that makes me rethink this. Who knew that Rita Wilson could sing? Apparently the people at Decca Records were smart enough to figure it out. It seems Rita decided to take some classics from the AM era and even the early FM era and put her own vocal stylings on them, along with a guest or two.

 

Wilson, wife of Tom Hanks since the late eighties, has appeared in many movies including Volunteers, Teen Witch, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Barbarians at the Gate, Mixed Nuts, Sleepless in Seattle, Now and Then, That Thing You Do!, Jingle All the Way, Runaway Bride, Invisible Child, The Story of Us, and Raise Your Voice.

 

"All I Have To Do Is Dream" is a classic tune that retains its class when Rita's subtle vocals grace the track. The real bonus here is the addition of Soundgarden's Chris Cornell as you have never heard him. They duet very well together and their voices blend well. "Never My Love," like the previous track, has that familiar feel to it, while her vocals make it slightly different and her own. Simply put, "Come See About Me" is a quality track. Imagine The Supremes with a more guitar driven sound than soul and The Funk Brothers. I am not implying this is all rocked out, but when Nils Lofgren lends his guitar skills and Patty Scialfa lends her background vocals to a track, there is instantly some rock cred established. "Angel Of The Morning" smacks of the more well-known rendition from Juice Newton with less twang, but the same emotion. Rita's pal Sheryl Crow lends her talents in the background here. "Walking In The Rain" is a song I wasn't familiar with, but didn't fast forward through either, as it is an enjoyable listen.

 

"Wichita Lineman" is the first song I am not a fan of, but to be honest though, I don't care for the original either. A real coup for Rita though, she was able to coax track writer Jimmy Webb to play piano for her on this track. "Cherish" truly places Rita's stamp on the song vocally. This is different from the original, but in a good way. It is as if it is an entirely different song due to a slightly different arrangement and vibe to it. "You Were On My Mind" let's Rita flex her muscles, so to speak. This song really pulls the range and Ms. Wilson delivers. There is a slight twang to the song, but the stylings don't delve far from the rest of the disc, keeping everything fluid in feel. "Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues" is another song I wasn't familiar with, but am very glad I heard this version. I actually prefer this to the original, which I dug up after hearing this version. Jackson Browne adds his touch in the background. "Love Has No Pride" is the first song that is all Rita. With her vocal touch and the arrangement presented here, this song stands well above the original in my opinion. The addition of Faith Hill's harmonies is a nice touch.

 

"Please Come To Boston" is a song I am very familiar with. Not bad. I prefer the original, as it seems a little edgier and driven that this version, but this version is really good. "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" is phenomenal. The arrangement is totally stripped down and this song, as mellow as it is, rocks. I can almost hear Carole King sitting by the piano writing this one. Sheryl Crow once again adds her vocals to the mix. "Faithless Love" is a really good version of the JD Souther original. This is another track where I prefer this version to the original. I can't put my finger on it, but there is just something that really grabs me here. Maybe it is the Vince Gill background vocals. "River" is Rita's homage to Joni Mitchell. In my opinion, this disc should have been one track shorter. Not that she doesn't do well here; I am just not a fan of Joni Mitchell or the song.

 

Truth be told, I am hoping this disc isn't a one-off. I would love to hear Rita record a disc of originals, so there was no preconceived notion of what any song should sound like. I believe allowing Ms. Wilson to spread her wings would only benefit anyone who enjoys the same style of music that she apparently enjoys.

 

 

Review posted 12 June 2012