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Only Trust Your Heart

Dionne Warwick

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Album Review

Like many other veteran pop singers, at a certain point Dionne Warwick stopped following popular musical trends in search of hits and gave up making "regular" albums in favor of specialty or "event" recordings. It might be argued that 2011's Only Trust Your Heart is her first "regular" album since 1993's Friends Can Be Lovers, even though she hasn't been absent from recording studios in between, coming up with a Brazilian album (Aquarela Do Brazil); an album of re-recordings of her old hits (Dionne Sings Dionne); a Christmas album (My Favorite Time of Year); an album of duet re-recordings of her old hits (My Friends & Me), and a gospel album (Why We Sing). Actually, Only Trust Your Heart is, in a sense, another specialty album in that it is devoted to the work of a single songwriter, Sammy Cahn. It is not, however, billed as such, like 1990's Dionne Warwick Sings Cole Porter. Cahn may be the most underrated lyricist of his time (that time stretching from the 1930s to the ‘60s), in part because lyricists don't tend to get as much attention as composers; in part because he wrote more for Hollywood than for Broadway; in part because he worked with many composers, and in part because of his sheer versatility. That versatility is on display on this collection, which largely eschews Cahn's better-known works. Warwick gives the songs a variety of musical settings, starting with the bossa nova arrangement of the title song and going on to small jazz bands, big string orchestras, solo piano accompaniments, and even a blues reading ("Keep Me in Mind"). She ignores previous interpretations, making each song her own. Cahn may have written "I'm a Fool to Want You" for Frank Sinatra (perhaps with Ava Gardner in mind), but Warwick, with her understated alto, gives it some of her typical sense of empowerment. Bing Crosby may have given "The Second Time Around" a jaunty tone after Cahn wrote it for him, but Warwick calms it down, working only with a piano and strings, reflecting on the theme of aging. If she never really put both feet into any one genre of music, that has turned out to serve her well on a late album like this, on which she demonstrates a mastery of several classic pop styles, just as Cahn was able to switch gears as a lyricist-for-hire throughout his distinguished (if often unheralded) career.

Biography

Born: 12 December 1940 in East Orange, NJ

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

It is easier to define Dionne Warwick by what she isn't rather than what she is. Although she grew up singing in church, she is not a gospel singer. Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan are clear influences, but she is not a jazz singer. R&B is also part of her background, but she is not really a soul singer, either, at least not in the sense that Aretha Franklin is. Sophisticated is a word often used to describe her musical approach and the music she sings, but she is not a singer of standards...
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Only Trust Your Heart, Dionne Warwick
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