|Cry Like A Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind|
|Linda Ronstadt featuring Aaron Neville|
|BEST RECORDING OF THE MONTH|
From one point of view, Linda Ronstadt's recording career
during the 1980's has been a Grand Tour of Pop. She's
sung classic American tunes, British light opera, Mexican
mariachi- but not the rock or country-rock that made her
a solid-gold artist. Now with her new album, "Cry Like
a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind," she's come home to rock-
and-roll, although it sounds like a much different place.
Vocally Ronstadt has never sounded better. Whether she's blasting a high note across several bars, or caressing an extra ounce of tenderness out of a soft phrase, or gracefully angling toward a melismatic throb, Ronstadt knows just how she wants to use her voice. Unquestionably, working in styles where she couldn't rely as much on lung power has given her a further education in phrasing and enunciation. Not to mention confidence: Here she sounds at all times relaxed and secure.
That confidence may explain why she's challenged herself by prominently featuring guest vocalist Aaron Neville. A charter member of the Neville Brothers and the man who brought us Tell It Like It Is, Neville is a singer of breathtaking beauty. Only a self-assured artist would risk a duet with this guy- and Ronstadt does four. The blend of these two sweet, creamy voices is exquisite. And the dipping-and-swirling, two-voices-as-one ending of the Isaac Hayes-David Porter classic When Something Is Wrong With My Baby is worth the price of admission all by itself. But there are other highlights. Ronstadt must be a long-time Paul Carrack fan, since two songs in the album come from his superb, woefully neglected "Suburban Voodoo" album of 1982. And the Barry Mann-Cynthia Weil- Tom Snow ballad Don't Know Much is an anthemic gem.
"Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind" may be the first true pop-rock album. This synthesis has been achieved by someone who understands and loves both pop and rock. It took Ronstadt several years to make the necessary discoveries, and the trip has brought her back where she belongs.