Album Review: Patti Scialfa – Rumble Doll (1993)

Okay, first things first. When I picked this up in the £1 box at a record fair quite some years ago now I didn’t have a clue that this was the wife of Bruce Springsteen. Those that know me are well aware that I don’t rate the so called Boss at all and think he is almost certainly the most over rated thing to come out of America since the Big Mac. Had I known who she was I would probably have left it where it was but it looked intriguing and its purchase wasn’t exactly going to cause the occupants of Leedham Towers to go without food so I handed over my pound and with me it came.

It was only whilst reading the sleeve notes as I played it that I began to discover the Springsteen connection. Initially of course you can’t help but think “well if this woman was the wife of Chuck the real estate man then she wouldn’t be putting out records at all, let alone on a major label’. That though is quite an unfair thing to think after listening to the album. Okay so she’s never going to be a Stevie Nicks or a Bonnie Raitt or anything remotely in their league but its as good as some of the other nondescript albums of the time. In fact its a little dated, but then so is Springsteen, and this sounds more like one of those over produced late eighties albums to me than the fresh female angst of the early nineties.

As you would expect the album features a veritable who’s who of American AOR special guests. On the whole it has a very country feel about it but I just felt myself getting a little bored and finding it all a bit samey. One track very much merging into another. When looking at the cover after it had finished I found it difficult to recall some of the tracks …… never a good sign. Having said all that though its not bad, its just not that good.

The only track that really grabs you and makes an impact is the opening title track ‘Rumble Doll’. ‘Come Tomorrow’ is very 50s sounding but its a fun little tune. ‘Valerie’ is very countryesque but lacks feeling and ‘Loves Glory’ is just plain boring. The rest of the album is just mediocre. You wouldn’t rush to turn it off if you came into the room and it was on, but similarly you wouldn’t bother to enquire who it was if you heard it being played somewhere. Also by the time I’d got to the end of the album her voice was starting to irritate and a lack of range and limited vocal ability was becoming apparent. But they may be down to the arrangements and production neither of which are the best.

One good thing for Ms Scialfa though is that at least she knows she is always going to be the most talented singer in her house, at least to my ears anyway.

© Martin Leedham. First published on RYM July 2010

About Martin Leedham

Music critic, Horse Racing Tipster, Hapless Dreamer, Defender of the Underdog
This entry was posted in Album Reviews, Americana, Music, Music Reviews, Rock and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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