Now & Then

The idea of a Motown-meets-Nashville sound, sung by a throaty Canadian woman with a perpetually aching heart, is intriguing to say the least. But on her second outing, Now & Then, Michelle Wright, whose sensuous alto dips and soars to the far reaches of romantic anxiety, seldom finds material with enough passion or pizzazz — let alone the requisite firepower — to satisfy her troubled soul. Thematically, she’s on the right track-such songs as ”Take It Like a Man” and ”Now & Then” explore a modern woman’s insistence on real love and the loneliness that follows when she refuses to settle for less. And she’s also right to challenge the standard country subject matter, daring to sing about a woman who fantasizes about the son she gave up for adoption (”He Would Be Sixteen”). But none of the program offers true deliverance — both the arrangements and the tunes, which focus more on country-pop than R&B, are too obviously synthetic for that. In the end, nothing impresses as much as Wright’s voice, a gray-white coal hot enough to melt pig iron. Here, unfortunately, it’s wasted on cardboard. C+

Now & Then
  • Music