By Gregory Katz
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dionne Warwick, “Feels So Good” (Bright Music Records)
The duets from Dionne Warwick’s new album show her remarkable voice undiminished by time, still as sweet and melodious as ever. Her phrasing and delivery sound easy and effortless. And the choice of material is, of course, beyond reproach, relying heavily on classics composed by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
So the combination of Warwick with a number of younger performers, as well as some who’ve been around for decades, should have been a winner. But the record struggles to find a groove _ a common shortcoming of duet compilations _ and some of the arrangements sound a bit flat, too polished to carry an emotional wallop.
There are exceptions. “Every Once In A While” with Eric Paslay is spare and convincing, filled with yearning for a time that cannot be recovered. A quirky reggae version of “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” with Ziggy Marley seems to combine a dozen different styles into a witty rendition that works; and Phil Driscoll brings a welcome touch of Barry White to “This Guy/This Girl’s In Love With You.”
A country-inflected “Hope Is Just Ahead” with Billy Ray Cyrus manages to deal with the horrors of school shootings and other modern day troubles without giving in to despair _ their voices work well together, and the Motown-style horns and acoustic guitars somehow mesh.
But what should have been a dream team pairing with Gladys Knight on “I Know, I’ll Never Love This Way Again” fails to bring out the best in these two giants, and Cyndi Lauper doesn’t really add much to “Message to Michael,” which was probably perfect the first time around.
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