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My Friends & Me

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Album Review

My Friends & Me, Dionne Warwick's collection of duets that revisit her classic recordings, benefits from her many talented friends in the music industry, but most of all from a family member. Her son Damon Elliott has worked with his mother for close to ten years, when he's not producing for contemporary hitmakers Pink, Destiny's Child, Jessica Simpson, Kelis, and Mya. Elliott's production for this record is engaging and charming, right up to the minute digitally on the rhythm end, but with plenty of space within the tracks to echo the airy productions of Warwick's long-time producer, Burt Bacharach. Also, Elliott kept most of these versions piano-based and added a tight backing chorus that is virtually necessary for anyone familiar with the original "Walk on By" or "Anyone Who Had a Heart." Dionne Warwick's voice, however, hasn't aged as well as her contemporaries, and the record often resembles a tribute album whose subject only stops by occasionally. (More often than not, the guests are featured more than Warwick herself.) The only track with radical changes is "The Windows of the World," which is presented with no less than four vocal guests (Angie Stone, Chanté Moore, Deborah Cox, Da Brat) and in a version that allows Da Brat to rap on the state of the world between the lines of the verses. Elsewhere, highlights come with Cyndi Lauper's quiet, pleading version of "Message to Michael," Kelis' "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," and Wynonna Judd's surprisingly smoky "Anyone Who Had a Heart."


Born: 12 December 1940 in East Orange, NJ

Genre: R&B/Soul

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 such...
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