Album Reviews: Thunderbird by Cassandra WilsonWhile generally considered a jazz vocalist, Cassandra Wilson is no stranger to folk, blues, country, and funk. A healthy selection of the singer's 12+ albums shows her successfully navigating through a variety of genres, and Thunderbird is no exception. What's unique about this album is the lengths to which Wilson pushes into conventional pop territory. While it never completely strays from Wilson's broad-based vintage aesthetic, this is her most contemporary-sounding album yet.
Programmed drums abound on Thunderbird, the first indication that this is not your typical Wilson set -- you may even pick out a sample or two in the mix. Produced by T-Bone Burnett (best-known for his work with The Wallflowers and Counting Crows), this album benefits from his vision of an American musical melting pot. Although the beats do feel occasionally canned, the stellar musicianship throughout the album, including appearances from artists as diverse as Marc Ribot and Keb Mo', make for continually fresh songs. A somewhat unexpected but effective turn for Wilson, this album may take her career to new places. - Cory O'Malley
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