Country Music People March 2019 - Page 38

albumreviews ALICE WALLACE Into The Blue TRISHA YEARWOOD Let’s Be Frank  1/2  The Lonely Talking / Santa Ana Winds / Elephants / The Blue / Desert Rose / When She Cries / Echo Canyon / The Same Old Song / Motorcycle Ride / Top Of The World / For Califia Producers: Steve Berns & K.P. Hawthorn Rebelle Road 41:26 Witchcraft / Drinking Again / All The Way / Come Fly With Me / Over The Rainbow / One For My Baby (And One More For The Road) / They All Laughed / If I Loved You / The Man That Got Away / The Lady Is A Tramp / For The Last Time / I’ll Be Seeing You Producer: Don Was Gwendolyn Records 47:03 Into The Blue is Americana singer Alice Wallace’s fourth album. She performs many live concerts every year, so probably should be better known than she is. This new album is her least country and could be seen as a push for higher sales. Here we get Americana tracks that almost run into Nashville pop at times. The lead-off song, The Lonely Talking, which is a co-write with the singer’s producer K.P.Hawthorn, is a reasonable Americana track marred by a rather pointless rock guitar. Alice Wallace has a fine country voice, if only the song had a less modern arrangement. Santa Ana Winds has similar problems with a modern arrangement and it builds like a Nashville pop confection. However, Elephants, with it’s simple Americana arrangement, works well. It features acoustic guitar, steel guitar and strings. The title song, Into The Blue, is a tedious track which drones on for around four minutes of Americana meets pop. With a better arrangement and a shorter length it would have worked slightly better. Alice Wallace has a very fine voice for singing country music but her new collection of Americana is her weakest release so far. Fans of her other albums may feel short-changed. This critic does. The track, The Same Old Song - not the Four Tops hit - is an OK track that really goes nowhere and is sunk by the rock guitar and another poor arrangement. This quite soulful song would have benefitted from an old-style Stax arrangement. This album is a tale of missed opportunities but with the right arrangements it might have been much better. Despite some strong vocals many of the songs just don’t cut it, but this album, sadly, will probably be Alice Wallace’s best seller. That could mean a further drift away from country music. However, Into The Blue is a lot better than Kacey Musgraves’ dire Golden Hour album which has just won a Grammy. With Alice Wallace being blessed with such a powerful country voice Into The Blue is a bit of a let-down. Oh well, here’s to next time. Paul Riley 38 cmp - MARCH 2019 Trisha Yearwood is back with a tribute to Sinatra and it’s something that she has wanted to do for more than 20 years. It’s even on her own label. Nobody could do it like Frank but Yearwood has long had one of the best voices out there and for this project she used Sinatra’s microphone and 55 musicians in Capitol Studios where Frank cut his legendary 1950’s recordings. She even sat on the same stool that Frank used. I liked that in the main she has stayed away from the really obvious choices with just a few exceptions, and I really like that she has included less obvious songs such as If I Loved You – which might be the best vocal performance here – and Drinking Again. Best track though must be The Man That Got Away, but while Sinatra cut is as The Gal That Got Away the song is really more associated with Judy Garland and her performance of it in A Star Is Born. This trumps Garland’s version for me both vocally and arrangement-wise and comes pretty darn close to the greatness of Frank’s. I’d also argue that Over The Rainbow is one that brings Garland’s name to mind ahead of Sinatra and I could’ve done without it really, even if she did discover an ‘unknown’ verse in an obscure Garland version. Generally the arrangements are pretty close to the Sinatra versions, maybe a bit closer than they should have been to give this its own identity, but it’s quality all the way (see what I did there?). The thing is, it’s hard for me not to compare this with Linda Ronstadt’s recordings with Nelson Riddle, Lush Life etc., and while they weren’t exclusively focused on Sinatra, these recordings can’t beat those. For The Last Time is a stunning new song by Yearwood and hubby Garth and it fits perfectly. Yes, Trisha can sing the shit out of these songs, but ultimately I’m still going to choose Sinatra over her, or Willie for that matter. While it all works well, it might have been even better with a more jazzy stripped back, á la Tony Bennett, arrangement, or even a hint of Western Swing, but then it wouldn’t be the Sinatra tribute that it is. Duncan Warwick