January 31, 2009
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For her new album, Sing: Chapter 1, Wynonna has teamed up with long-time collaborators – and the two most important men to the career of The Judds – Brent Maher and Don Potter. And the end result is awesome – a strong set of covers sung to Wynonna perfection. But that’s another review. We’re going to talk about ‘Women Be Wise’, which is presumably the album’s first radio single.
Listening to the song, I can visualize Wynonna singing in a smoky blues club – right out of a private eye movie. The song itself dates back to the 1930s and was written by the ‘Texas Nightingale’ Sippie Wallace & John Beach. (Wynonna considers this a Bonnie Raitt cover, as most will.) Sippy Wallace was a blues singer who gained popularity in the ’20s, and whose music dated as far back as Bessie Smith and Ethel Waters. But, as the legend goes, Wallace was re-discovered in the 1960s by Bonnie Raitt (when Wallace re-recorded the song in 1966), who then subsequently covered ‘Women Be Wise’ causing a resurgence in Wallace’s popularity, that lasted until her death. Confusing, huh?
The song speaks for itself, so I am only going to comment on the vocal. I’ve always considered Wynonna one of music’s finest vocalists, and highly underrated. Here, she shows she’s still at the top of her game, even though her influences are not all country. Wynonna stays very true to the Raitt recording of the song, growling and trilling in just the right places while remaining crystal clear all the while. A jazzy piano intro sets the mood, and allows the singer to take over. She clearly has a grasp on these elements of popular music, as she masters this torch song like few could. Brilliant.
Listen to ‘Women Be Wise’ and other songs in the Jukebox section of Wynonna’s official site.