All Aboard!

Tina Showalter
Take Me Back (Independent)

By Tim Roberts

Want to take a sentimental journey? One where a dozen handsomely produced American popular songs (from near-forgotten standards like "Louisville, Kentucky" and traditional spirituals like "This Ole House") are given a warm treatment by a woman with a voice richer than caramel?

Then give your ears a treat with Take Me Back from Tina Showalter, produced by singer-songwriter and jingle impresario Joel Timothy. No frills here, no over-stylized vocals, no sleek pitch correction: just good singing of good songs.

The songs run the gamut of material you'd might hear on "music of your life" radio stations. A finger-snappy version of "I Get a Kick Out of You," the hoedown stylings of "Small Fry" and "Listen to a Country Song," and "Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight." But there are two selections that deserve special mention.

Showalter manages to hypnotically incorporate the "Theme from Summer of '42" and "Summer Me, Winter Me" in the "Summer Medley," two pieces that fit perfectly for a sexy slow dance. Then there's the interpolation of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" within "The Rainbow Connection" in "Rainbow Medley," which, appropriate enough, uses a group of children on background vocals.

For the 60-year-old Showalter, Take Me Back is the kind of project that would appear on someone's list of "Things I Want To Do Before I Take the Big Dirt Nap."

She's not a well-known professional singer. She just had a collection of favorite songs and she wanted to make a recording of them.

Some people do that and fail miserably (as some producers and engineers say, you never know how badly you sound until you actually commit your voice to a professional recording). Others manage to hit it once and get it right. Tina Showalter is one of them.