For Baby Boomers of a certain age—my 52-year old self included—the soundtrack of our adolescence was soft rock, mellow post-Vietnam, post-Watergate easy listening tunes which brought a kind of comfort and warmth to the late 70s. A talented group of female singers dominated the solo charts, including Anne Murray, Helen Reddy, Melissa Manchester, and Linda Ronstadt. Their songs most often told stories. Then we listened to these soulful singers on the radio, as anything resembling the iPod would have been considered science fiction. Now, years later, actress/producer/famous Hollywood wife Rita Wilson (she’s Mrs. Tom Hanks) has released “AM/FM,” a debut CD of oldies covers of songs her 55-year old self especially loved in her youth.
The first half of the album features tunes she originally heard on the AM radio in her parents’ car, including songs by the Association, the Supremes, and Glen Campbell. The second half offers FM hits from the 70s and 80s, such as Dave Loggins’ “Please Come to Boston,” Carole King’s “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and Joni Michell’s “River.” Wilson is joined on several songs by well-known musicians like Sheryl Crow, Faith Hill, Vince Gill, and Jackson Browne. Each pairing seems effortless, due in large part to Wilson’s talent as a singer, about which there is no doubt. Her pure, clear voice is inviting, most reminiscent of Rondstadt, and, at times, so beautiful that it produces waves of nostalgia for a simpler decade. The result, though certainly not groundbreaking, is sincere and uncomplicated. If you want to know what music sounded like in an earlier era and what effect it had on the listener of another time, this is a CD to sample. If your parents are Baby Boomers of a certain age, this might be an ideal stocking stuffer at Christmastime.