Wildfire by Rachel Platten was officially released on January 1, 2016. Which is, if you ask me, a strange day to release an album, but there was no New Years Day competition for new albums, in any event.
Wildfire is a straightforward pop album with some catchy tunes. Rachel Platten has a nice, clean voice and she sings clearly (hey, I love a clean singer in the modern world filled with mushmouths).
There are no songs on this album that are exceptionally edgy. Platten sings catchy, danceable pop tunes that will individually appeal to a wide spectrum of pop fans. “Fight Song,” which was released in April 2015 on the EP of the same name, seems to resonate particularly with the teen-aged girls it feels aimed at went to #6 on the Billboard charts and was nominated for a Teen Choice award. “Stand By You” also had some chart success at #61.
On the whole, I like Wildfire but is an album that I’m more inclined to listen via streaming services than to own.
Rating: Stream it
Songs I have a spot in a playlist for: Hey Hey Hallelujah, Better Place, Astronauts
Clunkers I will thumbs down: Lone Ranger
Let me preface this by saying that I am admittedly not a giant Dylan fan. I like individual songs (Boots of Spanish Leather is a particular favorite, for instance), but Dylan isn’t someone I play when I just want to sit around and listen to music. Not even folk music.
I thought it was weird that Dylan released what is essentially a Sinatra tribute album when I came across it. The crooner sound is not something you would associate with Dylan for purely aesthetic reasons – he doesn’t have a crooner’s voice. I will allow that it’s perfectly reasonable for Bob Dylan to be fond of that music. It was very popular in his formative years. Heck, I like a lot of Sinatra’s music. But it wouldn’t occur to me that Dylan would try and make a crooner album. But he did. And honestly, it’s probably the least successful thing I’ve ever heard from Dylan. And remember, I’m not a giant Dylan fan.
The orchestration and music production of the album is fine. In fact, Dylan and his musicians play excellent backing music for these songs. The problem is entirely in the singing. Dylan is not a great singer to begin with. I didn’t think the phrasing on these songs was very well done. And I didn’t feel that Dylan’s limited vocal range was appropriate to the music.
I guess Dylan aficionados will accept anything he does. There are certainly a lot of reviews on the internet that were appreciative, even gushing for this album. But I just didn’t like it. If Dylan had done this album as instrumental, I would have liked it a lot more. As I said, the musicianship was excellent. But his weak singing, poor phrasing, and limited vocal range simply didn’t work on this album for me. I like Dylan best when the material can hide his vocal limitations, and this album contains nothing in that works for me.