Debut album, tour makes Rita Wilson giddy

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 15:50
Posted in category Artist Interviews & Features
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By George Varga |

Rita Wilson will be making her area debut Tuesday night at Anthology as a musical headliner, but it won’t be the first time she has performed here.

“When I was in junior high school in Los Angeles, I was in a church youth singing group called The Way Home and we played in San Diego at a church,” she recalled. “We were like a folk group, with patchwork shirts and ruffly blouses.”

The Anthology show will feature her with a six-piece band. It is the second date on a six-city concert trek by Wilson, 55, who is best known as an actress (“Sleepless in Seattle,” “Runaway Bride”) and film producer (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” “Mama Mia!”).

Her mini-tour is in support of her debut album, “AM/FM,” an earnest audio valentine to some of the music and artists that made an enduring impression on her growing up, from the Everly Brothers (“All I Have To Do Is Dream”), The Association (Cherish”) and Bonnie Raitt (“Love Has No Pride”) to Carole King (“Will You Love Me Tomorrow”), J.D. Souther (“Faithless Love” and Joni Mitchell (“River”).

Her attraction to the songs is emotional, as well as musical. The stories contained in the lyrics struck a major chord with her as a teenager and young adult, and that is still the case today. “AM/FM’s” title reflects the pop songs she first heard on AM radio, followed by the more introspective and emotionally layered songs she heard on FM radio at the height of the singer-songwriter era.

Doing the album was a dream come true for Wilson. So was working with such guests on the 14-song “AM/FM” as Jackson Browne, Faith Hill, Chris Cornell and Jimmy Webb, who plays piano for Wilson on “Wichita Lineman,” the hit 1968 ballad he wrote for Glen Campbell.

Her performance throughout is heartfelt. The album is never less than less than very pleasant, if rarely more. But in an ere of synthetic, Auto-tuned “singing” and empty, “American Idol”-styled vocal pyrotechnics, it is refreshing to hear someone whose love for music is their impetus for making music.

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