Tal Wilkenfeld: Love Remains
BMG More than a decade after releasing the fusion-oriented instrumental album Transformation, Tal Wilkenfeld is back with another kind of debut. The Australian-born musician, who initially garnered acclaim via her stellar bass guitar playing with Jeff Beck and work with the likes of Herbie Hancock and Prince, has re-emerged as a potent singer and songwriter. She applies her considerable vocal chops to a set of 10 tortured-love songs largely landing on modern-rock terrain—big guitars, tension-and-release passages, anthemic choruses, and powerhouse vocal belting. “Corner Painter,” the leadoff track and debut single on an album co-produced by Oasis/The Black Crowes collaborator Paul Stacey, is frontloaded with grungy guitars and benefits from a song structure built around dramatic crescendos. Wilkenfeld, joined by a room full of notable players, including Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench, guitarist Blake Mills, and drummer Jeremy Stacey, offers a hard-rock soundscape on several other tracks, including the blistering “Hard to be Alone,” the chugging “Fistful of Glass” and the twisting “Killing Me.” She takes other approaches elsewhere, deploying bass chording and soloing, and orchestral strings, on the flickering, slowly unfolding “Haunted Love,” and augmenting the acoustic-electric setting of pretty ballad “Under the Sun” with violin flourishes and brief open space for her bass. Her voice goes it mostly alone, with minimal instrumental backing, at the start of “One Thing After Another,” before the orchestra kicks in. The tuneful title track thrives on soft-to-hard textures, and the quiet closer “Pieces of Me,” spiked with unhurried piano lines, nails dark-night-of-the-soul romantic regret . Love Remains makes for an entirely convincing second act for Wilkenfeld.