THE GRADE B+
BOTTOM LINE The long-awaited return of one of country’s best voices.
Of course, Wynonna is ready to make some big noise. It’s been 13 years since her last album of new material.
But “Wynonna & The Big Noise” (Curb) is also a debut for her and her new band, which includes her husband-producer, Cactus Moser, on drums, and it shows.
She has a new approach to country here — one that is obviously totally different to the sweet sound she had with her mama in The Judds, but also different from her solo material where she was trying to figure out where she fit in the world of country.
Now, she doesn’t seem to care.
The big voice is still there — deep, pure and throaty enough to growl at the drop of a hat — and she wraps it around whatever style she is feeling.
She matches up well with Susan Tedeschi on the blues rocker “Ain’t No Thing,” belting out big notes while Tedeschi offers soulful harmonies. Her collaboration with Tedeschi’s husband, Derek Trucks, is just as potent, with Wynonna’s soaring delivery pairing well with Trucks’ bluesy, wailing guitar.
Wynonna finds the groove on “Staying in Love” from R&B singer Raphael Saadiq, playing up the rock edge and showing off her soulful falsetto. It shares a great strutting vibe with the sultry “You Make My Heart Beat Too Fast,” a Julie Miller single that features Moser playfully keeping up with Wy on backing vocals.
She even channels late-’70s Carly Simon on “I Can See Everything” with Timothy B. Schmit, who wrote the song when he was with Poco.
But Wynonna is still best when she’s taking a pretty folk song to church, like she does on the gorgeous “Things That I Lean On” with Jason Isbell or the soothing “Jesus and a Jukebox.”
After all, Wynonna has always been able to make the biggest noise on the quiet numbers.