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Published: May 14th, 2012
AM/FM, the debut album of Rita Wilson (Mrs. Tom Hanks), is a charming, nostalgic throwback to the soft rock of Los Angeles in the 1970s and early 80s, when the music conjured a posthippie romantic lotus land. In the early 70s Ms. Wilson, now 55, was attending Hollywood High School. She was a decade younger than musicians like Jimmy Webb and Jackson Browne, who appear on her album, along with Sheryl Crow and Faith Hill. On AM/FM, a gentler echo of the sound and style of albums by Linda Ronstadt, Karla Bonoff and Nicolette Larson, Ms. Wilson sings 14 personal favorites, most of them hits from the 1960s and 70s.
An unpretentious singer with a sweet, steady voice, Ms. Wilson lacks the forceful delivery of Ms. Ronstadt but imbues everything she touches with the kind of plaintive, unvarnished simplicity and understatement associated with Alison Krauss, who has a purer voice. There is not a forced or flat note. Fred Mollin s production, with its spare arrangements and creamy strings, is in perfect step with Ms. Wilson s appealing vocals.
The opening cut, All I Have to Do Is Dream, sung with the rocker Chris Cornell, establishes the album s mood of fond remembrance. The songs from the late 50s and 60s, like Walking in the Rain, Never My Love and Come See About Me, tend to be hopeful and innocent, and those from the 70s, like Faithless Love and Good Time Charlie s Got the Blues, more careworn and disillusioned.
The best point of comparison between then and now is the classic Eric Kaz and Libby Titus torch song Love Has No Pride, which was memorably recorded by Ms. Ronstadt, who wailed it; Bonnie Raitt, who toughened it up; and Rita Coolidge, who crooned it. Ms. Wilson s version is quieter and less fraught than its forerunners and distills the album s retrospective attitude of looking back from a point of grown-up serenity. The view is lovely.
Stephen Holden --The New York Times
By James Hunter
May 8, 2012
Sensuous U.S. radio hits from the Sixties and Seventies have a surprisingly able proponent in Rita Wilson, the L.A.-born actress and producer who debuts as a singer with this collection. Helped by Sheryl Crow ("Angel of the Morning," "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?"), Chris Cornell ("All I Have to Do Is Dream"), Faith Hill ("Love Has No Pride") and others, Wilson renews Watergate-era gems with an expressive denim-and-suede soprano; on "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues," she and Jackson Browne sing a song from 1971, but the stripped-down, bossa-nova-flavored arrangement, like much of AM/FM itself, feels timeless. --Rolling Stone Magazine
Top Customer Reviews
Is this a vanity project? Yes.
Would Ms. Wilson had gotten a Decca recording if she wasn't Rita Wilson and Mrs. Tom Hanks? No.
Is this a great album. No.
What it is is very smooth and very enjoyable which I certainly cannot say about 90% of the tripe that passes for pop music today.
I think what the recording is really suffering from for me is the Ms. Wilson is doing some of my all-time favorite songs. The result is I'm mentally comparing her version to Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Dave Loggins and others who over the years are seared into my brain.
What it is not suffering from is sucking.
She can sing well enough. It reminds me of a friend with a very nice voice who was able to get some of music's great studio musicians and writers to help them out with a recording.
I really like this recording and would recommend it to anyone who wants some nice easy music with a little edge thrown in here and there. As a matter of fact I think the record would be a lot better if there was a little more rawness to it.
I liked a lot of the songs and while I was listening to the recording on iTunes gave every song a 3 or 4 star rating except ironically the one song not included except as an Amazon add on "Prisoner In Disguise". It got 5 stars.
This is one of my favorite Linda Ronstadt/J.D. Souther songs. I think Ms. Wilson did a haunting and noteworthy version. I loved this cut.
The concept is clever: half the songs are tunes familiar from heavy rotation on AM stations, half are songs by singer/songwriters who would have been heard on FM stations.
The record doesn't quite cleave neatly in two -- some AM tunes are paired up -- but the conceit does give AM/FM thematic range even when the album is pitched firmly in the middle of the road.
All the arrangements are sweet and intimate -- even when the tempo picks up, as it does on "You Were on My Mind", no sweat is broken -- and nothing is distracting from Wilson's voice, which perhaps is good as she's not a forceful singer.
She takes thing easy, a suitable choice for an album whose primary purpose is sepia-toned nostalgia.
Surely this will be appealing for fellow Baby Boomers looking back fondly on the golden age of rock & roll radio, but the question remains, if you're pining for the past wouldn't it just be better to put on the original hits?
S. T. Erlewine
Favourite tracks: "All I Have To Do Is Dream", "Come See About Me", "Angel Of The Morning", and "Wichita Limeman".
Maybe it's not great "art" but neither is Britney etc, and this is far more enjoyable than today's pop stars.
I love it. It's soothing. Gentle, beautiful.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've always liked Rita Wilson and her husband Tom Hanks. They're great actors but as far as her branching out to music is a huge mistake. Terrible album and vocal. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I love most of these songs and while Rita does not have a huge vocal range her voice is nice to listen to.Published 1 month ago by ahoffnag
Too boring...she has a beautiful voice, but the CD is just blah. I hate saying that because I love her as an actress.Published 2 months ago by Lisa F.
Rita can sing. This is a great "set it and forget it" album. You can put it on and enjoy the entire thing. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Brandon
Great cd just great she can really sing. Thank you Rita......Published 9 months ago by joseph g. tangel