Artist: Sally Champlin
Album: It’s Rainin’ In L.A.
Genre: Soul/Easy Listening
Sounds Like: Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle
Technical Grade: 9/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Commercial Value: 5/10
Overall Talent Level: 7/10
Songwriting Skills: 7/10
Performance Skills: 7/10
Best Songs: Hollywood According to Sal, Journey of Love
Strengths: Seasoned performer who is comfortable, sincere, and passionate
Weaknesses: Singing ability is average, some of the lyrical content is mediocre and silly
Sally Champlin is a long-time singer and actress currently based in West Hollywood. Champlin has performed in everything from theater, to television programs on major networks, to writing and recording her own music over the expanse of her career. In theater, she starred in the first national tour of Joe Masteroff’s 1966 musical Cabaret. In television, she has appeared on popular shows such as Heroes, Dragnet, and Frasier. She is the sister of Bill Champlin, a two-time Grammy winner and former member of the legendary rock band, Chicago. This album, titled It’s Rainin’ In L.A., features twelve tracks of Champlin’s solo musical efforts. Champlin sings lead vocals with the accompaniment of a host of backing singers and studio musicians.
One of the most attractive qualities of It’s Rainin’ In L.A. is the obvious sense of fun and enjoyment that Champlin had in creating and performing these twelve songs. Champlin coos, laughs, shouts, and speaks openly throughout the album, demonstrating a light, airy vocal quality with emphasis on classic soul styling. The essence of this music showcases a truly seasoned performer who is very comfortable in her own skin; Champlin’s thoroughly honest songs are set at a level of optimism and playfulness that has a chance to soften the most stoic naysayers. For example, in many songs, such as Hollywood According to Sal, Don’t Wait, and Way Too Late Champlin begins with a few smooth lines of spoken word. While these little hits of personality and attitude might strike some people as humorous and lame, at the same time, they can also be seen as one of the album’s good qualities. What people can expect with It’s Rainin’ In L.A. is to be presented with music from a woman that is truly original, comfortable, and having a great deal of fun in the process of singing tunes about passionate flings, fancy parties, and running around in the rain. Perhaps one of the greatest qualities an actor or a musician can learn is that, in order to sell a performance, they should appear as if whatever it is they are doing is the most interesting and fun thing ever. Champlin seems to understand that concept completely throughout the entirety of her album. The band is professional, the mix is fitting, the songs are fun, and Champlin is quite a personality.
From a purely musical standpoint, It’s Rainin’ In L.A. is pretty mediocre to average. Champlin’s voice isn’t great, and it has a tendency to become somewhat tiresome and harsh. This is partially contributed to the fact that almost every single one of the twelve songs on this album is about two minutes longer than it has to be. The tunes can get slow and boring after a while, and the basically identical set of easy listening/smooth jazz-like arrangements hardly bring any excitement to the mix. The lyrics at times are pretty silly. It is difficult to take a song seriously when both Facebook and Twitter are mentioned in it.
It isn’t fair to judge this album from a purely technical standpoint. There is so much more to It’s Rainin’ In L.A. than occasional silly words and somewhat boring studio instrumentation. To say that the album is hurt by these components would, in many ways, miss the point of what this music accomplishes. This album is special because Champlin as an artist is very talented. The greatest success of It’s Rainin’ In L.A. is not in its composition, but in its performance. Champlin’s dynamic personality is the centerpiece of these songs, whether they be honest, playful, fun, or even silly at times. When someone who is this comfortable with who they are performs their own songs in a genuine fashion, those songs will always be good, even if they don’t sell