album reviews

Janine Wilson
Save Me From Myself
BOS Music (2005)

Janine Wilson won several awards from the Washington Area Music Association for her 2000 debut album, "The Blues Album," including best blues album and best blues female vocalist. Although Wilson still projects the same brassy, captivating vocals on her follow-up, "Save Me From Myself," it's not until the final song -- a dramatic cover of Melissa Manchester's "Alone" -- that she fully exposes the torchy, traditional blues vibe she championed on "Blues Album."

Elsewhere, "Save Me" follows a twangier, more up-tempo path because of its more conventional guitar-bass-drums arrangements and Wilson's animated vocals. She kicks things off with a straight-shooting couplet, "You might think that I want more than this/But your kiss isn't that good," her unflinching delivery mirroring the confident message of the song "Don't Even Start." That candor permeates the album: The title track carries the same kind of self-exposure (and the same nearly hoarse vocals) as Sheryl Crow's early singles.

Despite the five-year hiatus between albums, most of "Save Me" is devoted to covers rather than to originals, including a saucy version of Stealers Wheel's "Stuck in the Middle." Her choice to turn Bruce Springsteen's melancholy "Ain't Got You" into a duet with Last Train Home's Eric Brace twists the song's original loneliness into a glimmer of hope. That creative reinterpretation combined with her outspoken delivery is precisely what makes Wilson so enchanting.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 4 November 2005, Page WE06
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