Wendy Rich – It’s All Nothing
Wendy World Productions
8 Tracks; 31 minutes
Wendy Rich is a blues and torch singer of the Old School. Her voice is resonant, expressive and evocative. She coaxes every last nuance of feeling from whatever song she takes on. You can hear it on every track of this journeyman album.
I call her a journeyman with respect. Because that is someone who’s a complete pro, who knows her voice and her craft, and has her technique nailed. It is someone who can handle diverse style without losing her central core.
Yes, Wendy Rich is a journeyman, and this CD is the better for it.
The opening track, “Back To Zero”, is a good, full speed ahead blues tune that shows that Rich can rock with the best of them. It’s not surprising that she spent a fair bit of time touring with Big Brother & The Holding Company (Joplin’s first band). She is even more at home with a “we’re through and there’s gonna be heartache” song – you can feel the pain in your soul.
Just listen to “Love And Happiness” and you’ll hear it, deep down inside her. This is perhaps the best cut on the CD. Rich’s impassioned vocals and terrific piano and guitar work from her band, which unfortunately goes unaccredited on the CD. A little digging reveals that it is Paul English on piano, Kenny Cordray on guitar, and Kevin McKendree on Hammond B3 (Rich really should the names somewhere on the CD cover). This is what was known in the business as a blues torch song, and Rich keeps the torch smoldering throughout.
“Losin’ You” is another torch song, but this time it is with a country twang. The song itself is fairly generic in its structure and chord progressions, and its lyrics and rather predictable, but Rich’s vocal work elevates the song above the cliché.
She goes from being the one bereft of her lover to being the one who does the kicking out on ‘Song About Nothing”. Her annoyance is supported by driving slide guitar and a snarl in her voice.
Rich can change the tonal quality of her voice to suit the song she is singing. I don’t like every choice she makes, but her ability to it should be commended.
What blues CD from a strong female singer would be complete without the obligatory, “I’m a cowboy-boot wearing, sassy wild child with regrets” tune. “Off The Deep End” is Rich’s version of it and she rocks it with conviction. She continues to get excellent support from the mystery band on every instrument.
Unfortunately, she wraps up the CD with “Get It Together” an uninspired take on the Bo Diddley beat. When are bands going to realize that if you’re not going to bring something startlingly fresh to a well-used form, it is best to leave it alone.
But this is what prevents “It’s All Nothing” from really soaring about the crowd. Wendy Rich has great pipes who can sing a lot of different styles, but the songs on this CD are, for the most part, very average.
I hope Ms. Rich finds some songs that are worthy of her and her band. She’s on the threshold of a real breakthrough. I hope she steps on through.