Wynonna Judd

What the World Needs Now Is Love

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What the World Needs Now Is Love may be titled after a Burt Bacharach and Hal David song, but it as far away from that song musically as one can get and still remain popular music. On her alleged return to her country roots, Wynonna Judd cannot resist the temptation to allow many forms of pop and rock into her sound. But that's fine; just fine. On her first studio outing in three years, Judd turns in a performance that is consistent all the way through, and one that seamlessly blends that astonishing voice of hers with banjos, strings, electric guitars, mandolins, pedal steels, pianos, and lots of drums. In addition to the heartbreakingly beautiful reunion of the singer with her mother Naomi ("Flies on the Butter"), Wynonna also collaborates with ├╝berguitarist Jeff Beck on the shimmering country version of the Mick Jones pop classic "I Want to Know What Love Is." This version may replace the original as its emotion is honestly wrought and pouring over the brim of the track's arrangement. Also featured here is her version of "Burning Love," the old Elvis nugget from the film Lilo & Stitch, and "You Are," from the Someone Like You soundtrack. There are contemporary arrangements galore, but Judd's voice carries them into the realms of history as one can hear voices as diverse as Connie Smith's and Aretha Franklin's in her delivery and phrasing. Tracks such as "Sometimes I Feel Like Elvis," and the rollicking barnburner "(No One's Gonna) Break Me Down," which could have been written by Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds, deliver intensity, honesty, and theatrics seamlessly. What the World Needs Now Is Love is a stellar outing from one of the most singular talents in the country music pantheon. If this doesn't cross over, then radio really is dead.

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