Even if she is in great shape, a woman in her late 50s has to be a class act to get away with wearing a microminiskirt, as Tina Turner does on the cover of her latest album. Fortunately, Turner’s flawless legs are not the only assets she’s kept intact. On Wildest Dreams, her first collection of new material in seven years, Turner’s raspy, robust alto and her ability to carry herself with both dignity and chutzpah are as formidable as they were when she recorded the incendiary “River Deep, Mountain High” three decades ago.
What has changed, of course, is the music behind her. Since her early ’80s comeback, Turner has favored increasingly slick production and tame, synthladen arrangements better suited to Mariah Carey and Toni Braxton. Nevertheless, Wildest Dreams is rich in Turner’s native grit. “In Your Wildest Dreams,” a softly percolating duet with Barry White, Turner matches the Maestro of Love’s steaminess with her own fierce carnality. Turner also sharpens the genial-funk tone of “Something Beautiful Remains” and “Confidential” with her sensuous, urgent delivery.
None of the material on this album is going to make Phil Spector jealous, but there are a couple of songs that at least provide Turner with a flame worth stoking rather than forcing her to generate all the heat by herself. In “Whatever You Want,” one of several tracks produced by Trevor Horn, quiet, intense verses segue into bright, exhilarating choruses. And the hip-hop-laced “All Kinds of People” has a lithe, buoyant spirit crackling with energy. All this vim and vigor — and not a perceptible ounce of cellulite.