Sweet Time, the first CD out from Maggie Wheeler is a big surprise. Best known for her role as the annoying Janice on TV's Friends, Maggie's singing voice couldn't come from a more different place. Each of the nine songs are written and sung in many parts by Wheeler whose voice is a rich, earthy prayer from the heart. Characterized by lush, layered harmonies, this is music with soul (both big S and small's soul) made to heal the spirit. Mostly a capella, accompaniment is minimal: bass and drums by Paul McKee here, a nice djembe beat by Meredith Scott Lynn there, improvised vocal percussion by Emile Hassan Dyer. There is a driving insistence here. The songs range from the lovely plaint of Who Am I to the urgent rap of Come On, to the strident "No" of We Will Not Be Satisfied (based on a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.). But it is in Too Much Rain, where Wheeler shows her cards. "Why don't you wail? Wail at the Moon!" she asks us. And later she exhorts, " Your soul is not for lending/or putting on hold/ you need to bold!" Bold indeed.
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