Release Date: Sep 18, 2015
Record label: Sony Music
Genre(s): R&B, Gospel, Pop/Rock, Adult Contemporary R&B, Rock & Roll, Religious
Darlene Love has one of the strongest and most immediately recognizable voices in the history of pop and rock music, but she's never been much of a star on her own; Love's most memorable moments were as part of Phil Spector's Wall of Sound crew, where she sang as part of the Crystals and Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans, as well as cutting a few tracks under her own name and delivering the epochal version of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" on Spector's legendary Christmas album. Love has always had the talent to be a frontwoman, but fate seemed to have other ideas, and none of Love's solo albums caught the ear of the larger public, despite her enduring talent.
Yep, there's irony in the title of this showcase for pop vet Darlene Love. It sounds like what you'd expect from producer Steve Van Zandt: like the E Street Band updating Spector's Wall of Sound. Love comes at it like a wrecking ball, husky alto thrillingly intact, channeling girl-group passion through a woman's scars on vintage material and two Brill Building ringers by Bruce Springsteen.
It’s faintly absurd that a singer whose career spans six decades should need introducing, but Darlene Love is one of the 1960s girl-group footsoldiers who has consistently marched at the periphery of the spotlight, except when friends in high places – including David Letterman – thrust her into full view. The E Street Band’s Steven Van Zandt is a long-time champion, and the 65-minute album he has constructed around her, featuring new songs by Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello, has the gushing quality of a fan tribute. Hyperbole suits Love’s voice: always declamatory, it hasn’t gained delicacy with age, so he rarely calls upon her to do anything other than belt, and in state-of-humanity songs such as Jimmy Webb’s Who Under Heaven and his own Among the Believers, she does so with the conviction of a Hollywood superhero battling apocalypse.
By the time Twenty Feet from Stardom came out in 2013, Darlene Love’s appearance in a doc on backup singers may have puzzled some people. Surely, this must be about the singers who backed Love up, right? Yet the singer of “Christmas Baby (Please Come Home)” and “Today I Met the Boy I’m Gonna Marry” has had surprisingly few big hits to her name, in part because that name was obscured, singing credits deviously shifted to the Crystals (“He’s a Rebel”, “He’s Sure the Boy I Love”). But even the hits originally released under her own name were, for a time, ungenerously considered part of an undifferentiated “Phil Spector sound” despite Love having a vocal signature at least as iconic as the busy arrangements beneath.
A fine irony led Darlene Love to title her latest solo album “Introducing.” The voice that fired so many Phil Spector girl-group classics of the 1960s has become part of the pop DNA. Yet, she stands 20 feet from stardom in some people’s minds. For those benighted souls, as well as for diehard fans, “Introducing” offers an apt summation of Love’s talents.