The singer-actress-producer goes down to Nashville and puts her own stamp on country, pop and rock tradition.
Rita Wilson is best known as an actress and producer (as well as the wife of Tom Hanks), but her 2012 debut as a singer, AM/FM, was a strong set of classic pop and country covers that showed off her Broadway-steeped vocal chops. Wilson’s second album, recorded in Los Angeles and Nashville with a slate of A-list co-writers, builds on that start, seamlessly fusing rock, country and singer-songwriter pop. “Along For the Ride” veers into Stones-y territory; on the lighthearted “Girls Night In,” Wilson sings about getting her friends together and turning her living room into a nightclub. The album’s best moments are its most personal: “Crying Crying” is a powerful reflection on her recent fight against breast cancer which recalls classic Carole King in its stately resilience; the chilling, stripped-down “Still Gone” is a remembrance of loved ones who’ve passed away. Wilson also pays respect to a bedrock musical influence on the haunting piano ballad “Joni,” but at its best, Rita Wilson, she goes beyond honoring tradition to create something all her own.