CD Review: Cassandra Wilson Revisits Pop

23 Feb 2009


Grammy-winning American jazz musician, vocalist a Cassandra Wilson released a new compilation album this week.  “Closer To You: The Pop Side” is entirely a cover album capturing some of pop and rock’s great songs in her own smooth jazzy style.

The songs are a selection of the best pop covers from her seven albums with the legendary label Blue Note Records. Holding the distinction as the world’s premiere and longest-running jazz label, Blue Note is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year by releasing a series of commemorative albums. In Closer To You: The Pop Side, Cassandra Wilson revisits memorable hits originally recorded by such heavyweights as U2, Bob Dylan, Glen Campbell, The Band, Sting, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Cyndi Lauper and The Wallflowers.

Cassandra Wilson is no stranger to musical experimentation. The 53-year-old Jackson, Mississippi native even dabbled with sampling and other hip hop techniques on her 2006 album Thunderbird.Wilson’s cover of Cindy Lauper’s song Time After Time is one of the best covers I’ve heard of the many that have come out. The same could be said for her soulful version of U2’s Love is Blindness.

For the younger set who may think the song I Can’t Stand the Rain was originally a hook from Missy Elliott’s hit, Cassandra Wilson soothing rendition of Ann Peebles’ hit brings it back to the basics of blues. Never have the lyrics of that song come out to life so vividly and rang so true. The jabbing guitar hooks take you back to another time and place.

Some classic songs are better left alone. But when you hear Cassandra Wilson singing them, you almost feel they should have been hers all along.

Cassandra Wilson: Closer To You: The Pop Side (CD, digital album)

1. Love Is Blindness (U2)
2. Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper)
3. Fragile (Sting)
4. Closer To You (The Wallflowers)
5. Last Train To Clarksville (The Monkees) 11. Wichita Lineman (Glen Campbell)
6. The Weight (The Band)
7. Tupelo Honey (Van Morrison)
8. Harvest Moon (Neil Young) 
9. I Can’t Stand The Rain (Ann Peebles)
10. Lay Lady Lay (Bob Dylan)
11. Wichita Lineman (Glen Campbell)

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