There is no doubting the credentials on this, the sixth album, by Rebecca Pidgeon. Not only has Pidgeon teamed up again for the third time with Grammy-winning producer Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Madeleine Peyroux, Herbie Hancock) but she has also enlisted the help of husband and renowned Pulitzer Prize-winner playwright/film director David Mamet for a co-produced song. Fortunately they resisted the temptation to do a duet together.
Slingshot though reflects this stellar trio of talents in the slick, professional nature of the music and production values. There is nothing to really fault here but nothing to get excited by. And that’s a problem.
Pidgeon’s voice is warm and inviting, never out of tune or overstretched, but it fails to engage with me. There is no emotion in the delivery, no sense of passion or anger or love of anything. It’s a bit like those machines you see in House when someone dies and the heart beat just goes flat across the screen, no up, no down, just flat.
This is consummate adult oriented pop music. Music for those people who don’t want to watch X-Factor but quite like the singers who inevitably emerge to contest the pecking order of the top ten. In another time, and another place, this would be FM radio staple music.
Opener “Get Up Get Out” is a gently rocky, country-ish song in which Rebecca tells us “I’ve got my devil within me / An angel above me / I’m ready for someone / Ready to love me”. The theme of love, betrayal introspection and yearning are core sentiments of the album, but they come across as just words, devoid of meaning or belief.
Things get interesting on the third track “Disintegration Man” which opens with a thick, fuzzy guitar riff that could have come straight from the Black Keys, rockabilly drums and backing and much more expressive vocal delivery from Pidgeon, in terms of the rest of the album it is out of sync, but it provides a glimpse of the possibilities for Pidgeon if she loosens the leash a bit. The track is much more up-tempo and suits her. This carries on in a lesser vein on the next track “A Lonely Place” which introduces piano and continues with the deep drums and again allows some expression for Pidgeon’s voice.
But things slump back to sophomore, or at least slickly produced pop, on “Tremble”, “Kiss Me”, “Is Anyone” and even a cover of Warren Zeavon’s “Searching For A Heart”.
The title track “Slingshot”, unusually the last track on the album, is also the song Pidgeon and Mamet co-produced but it lets the album drift out on a tide of nothingness.
Larry Klein provides plenty of space for Pidgeon’s vocals and this might be at the root of the problem. Pidgeon undoubtedly has a good voice but it comes alive when it is being hurried along, when she has to provide urgency or passion to a song in order to keep up with the instrumentation. Songs such a s”Disintegration Man” is where she is at her best.
This album won’t offend anyone; it will appeal to those who want something grown up but not offensive. Something to put on for the dinner party or quiet evening in, whether it will move or stir the emotions in you is an entirely different matter.