Alicia Witt

Revisionary History

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Being a singer/songwriter with a yen for melody and burnished '70s pop, Alicia Witt finds an ideal partner in Ben Folds, the singer/songwriter/producer who has carried the flag for piano-driven pop since the '90s. Folds produced Revisionary History, the long-gestating 2015 debut by Witt, plus he co-wrote on occasion and his influence can be heard on the profane refrains of "About Me," which is otherwise a startling homage to Billy Joel's early period (its surging arpeggios make it a dead ringer for "Everybody Loves You Now"). Joel is generally a better touchstone for Witt than Folds because she's very much grounded in the sensitive singer/songwriters of the '70s, alternating between majestic pop and sighing ballads. So easy is her touch that when she finds space for rapper ToneZ on "Down," it's rather embarrassing: she's trying to assert her modernity when she's better off as a staunch classicist, reviving the tunes and sloppy emotions of the '70s. That's what she does throughout Revisionary History -- "Blind" touches upon sun-bleached SoCal country-rock, "Theme from Pasadena" is nicely ersatz Beach Boys, "Friend" is Carole King by any other name -- and that allegiance to the past is not only palpable, it's appealing.

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