The Bottom Line
Listen to "Wild Horses."
No singer in recent years has created the kind of international excitement generated by Susan Boyle's initial appearance in the spring of 2009 on the talent show Britain's Got Talent. The 48-year-old singer generated interest not only because she is an extraordinarily talented singer, but also because she represented to so many how an ordinary person could use that talent to be catapulted to a worldwide stage. Additional appearances have confirmed the performance was no fluke, and her first single "Wild Horses" indicates she may be an artist of enduring interest.
- Powerful and richly resonant vocal
- Drama that avoids excess
- Picture perfect piano and strings accompaniment
- A slight risk of becoming repetitive
- First Single from 'I Dreamed a Dream' Album
- Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
- Released September 2009 by Sony
Guide Review - Susan Boyle - "Wild Horses"
After she performed "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables and "Memory" from Cats on Britain's Got Talent, many believed that, despite the fact her pure vocal talent is undeniable, Susan Boyle would become typecast as a singer of show tunes. However, past recordings of pop standard "Cry Me a River" and Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly With His Song" indicated Susan Boyle may have interpretive skills for a wider range of music. The choice of the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses" is a stroke of daring, and a stellar choice to introduce us once again to the voice of Susan Boyle.
The Rolling Stones' recording of "Wild Horses" from their 1971 album Sticky Fingers features one of Mick Jagger's most achingly beautiful vocals of all time. Creating a new recording of the song that is not just a pale shadow of the original is a difficult task. It seems that it would be tempting to have Susan Boyle sing the song in a fashion that attempts to buy into a contemporary pop model dropping the Broadway style drama in her style. The sheer power of the vocal here finds new emotion and intensity in the song "Wild Horses" beyond the Rolling Stones original. The wise exchange of guitar-based backing for piano gives the instrumentation a richness matching the resonance of Boyle's voice.
A tremendous achievement of this recording of "Wild Horses" is it takes Susan Boyle's already familiar vocal approach out of the realm of show tunes and pop standards into material emerging out of rock. This effort is undertaken without compromise and the results are impressive. It is now easy to imagine Boyle interpreting a very wide range of pop, rock, and songs from musicals. The largest looming danger, however, is that too many songs of a similar tempo and similar vocal approach could make the upcoming album I Dreamed a Dream a bit dreary. However, camp Susan Boyle has made no significant missteps thus far, and there is no reason to not expect more surprises and musical revelations as we hear more from one of the most compelling new singers to emerge in years.