Personnel: Alicia Witt (vocals, piano, Hammond b-3 organ); Joe Pisapia (acoustic guitar, percussion, background vocals); Ben Folds (electric guitar, drums, percussion, background vocals); Sari de Leon-Reist (cello).
Audio Mixer: Joe Costa.
Recording information: East West Studios, Los Angeles, CA; Grand Victor Sound, Nashville, TN; Southern Grounds, Nashville, TN.
Photographer: Nora Schaefer.
Being a singer/songwriter with a yen for melody and burnished '70s pop, Alicia Witt finds an ideal partner in Ben Folds, the singer/songwriter/producer who has carried the flag for piano-driven pop since the '90s. Folds produced Revisionary History, the long-gestating 2015 debut by Witt, plus he co-wrote on occasion and his influence can be heard on the profane refrains of "About Me," which is otherwise a startling homage to Billy Joel's early period (its surging arpeggios make it a dead ringer for "Everybody Loves You Now"). Joel is generally a better touchstone for Witt than Folds because she's very much grounded in the sensitive singer/songwriters of the '70s, alternating between majestic pop and sighing ballads. So easy is her touch that when she finds space for rapper ToneZ on "Down," it's rather embarrassing: she's trying to assert her modernity when she's better off as a staunch classicist, reviving the tunes and sloppy emotions of the '70s. That's what she does throughout Revisionary History -- "Blind" touches upon sun-bleached SoCal country-rock, "Theme from Pasadena" is nicely ersatz Beach Boys, "Friend" is Carole King by any other name -- and that allegiance to the past is not only palpable, it's appealing. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine