Torch Rock
(Desert Dreams, 2007)

Boston jazz singer turned Arizona belter Wensday is trading on her varied musical past, saying that her background as a classically trained jazz, rock and blues singer has enabled her to create a new genre, a musical hybrid she calls torch rock. The claim might be a bit overstated, but there's no mistaking that this woman can sing. She's got a great booming contralto and can connect musically and emotionally with a song. There is a torch song element to her voice.

This record is designed to showcase her voice, to let us know exactly what she can do and as a result it cuts across many styles. In "After You," she reminds me of a night in a small and intimate '40s night club. I picture Wensday in an evening gown and standing next to a piano, hands clasped in front of her as she squeezes the tears out of the lyrics. "The Rise & Fall of You" is a power ballad while "Heartbreak Saloon" takes a turn for the jazz-blues.

The real gem of the album, however, is a cover of Alice Cooper's 1975 song, "Only Women Bleed," In Wensday's hand, the song transforms into an anthem; she finds the universality in it and shows us how it applies to all women's lives.

All of the material is not first rate, however; a casual listener, after hearing the opening cut, "Arizona Man," might be tempted to just shut the record off. That would be a mistake.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Michael Scott Cain

19 April 2008

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