November 2, 1997 in Features

Michael Bolton Returns To R&B; Roots In New Album

Melinda Newman Billboard
 
Tags:preview

When it came time for Michael Bolton to begin working on “All That Matters,” his first new studio album in four years, he knew he wanted “a fresh new Bolton. I think that’s part of where I am in my life,” he says. “In a sense, I’m back to my R&B; roots. It’s a reawakening.”

To aid him in his explorations, he collaborated with such current hot acts as Babyface and Tony Rich, as well as longtime Bolton cohort songwriter Diane Warren and the legendary Lamont Dozier.

The result is the warmest album of his career. “All That Matters” comes out Tuesday on Columbia.

“I wanted a feel-good record,” says Bolton. “This album has a little more contemporary groove, which is my conscious attempt and my good fortune to have surrounded myself with people who are very in tune with what feels good today and what radio is playing today without trying to make me something I’m not. I can’t put out a record of Michael Bolton becoming hip-hop or alternative. It has to be me.”

The title stems from Bolton’s belief that everyone, no matter what his or her station in life, has one person whom they rely on. “I’ve been with the most cynical, brutal critics, journalists who are exposed to really intense trauma, surgeons who see open bodies, and they still have that place within themselves that they come back to, where that person - whether it’s your child or your partner or your parent - is the sanctuary in their life. (This album) is about writing in various perspectives of that relationship in a way that hasn’t been written about before.”

Bolton, who worked with a score of writers and producers for the project, co-produced and co-arranged every cut and co-wrote 10 of the 13 tracks.

“All you have to do is go through playlists and see that artists like Michael Bolton have a tougher time at radio than they ever have,” says Tom Corson, senior vice president of marketing for Columbia Records. “We believe he’s still relevant in today’s radio world, but he’s going out in a very difficult climate to programmers who are being deluged with big-name artists this time of year. Michael is spot-on in that he’s delivered a record that we feel is our best opportunity to keep him a Top 40 artist.”

Bolton has a “fresher look” these days that includes a haircut. After 30 years of long hair, he cut his trademark golden locks late this summer. “I just decided it was time,” says Bolton.

That new haircut will be on display in the two clips being made for “The Best of Love.”

While Bolton will not tour until early 1998, he will be a presence on U.S. television, with appearances planned on a number of talk shows and morning programs, as well as a potential TV special.

For the remainder of 1997, Bolton will promote the album, tying in promotions with his children’s book, “The Secret of the Lost Kingdom,” which comes out Tuesday from Avon Books.

Columbia is sending three cassettes, each containing snippets of four songs, to 10,000 members of Bolton’s fan club - one for them to keep and two to pass along to friends.

Coming from Bolton in early 1998 is an album of arias. It came about after Bolton performed with Luciano Pavarotti at a benefit. Bolton began studying Italian and opera, and just “fell in love with this incredible body of music.”

He would like to include some of the arias when he returns to the road in February. He’s tremendously excited about getting back in front of a live audience. “Touring has become the most gratifying part of what I do,” he says. “It used to be split between the writing, recording and performing, but now it’s almost like the writing and creating is like the planting of the seeds, and the performing is the harvest.

“The relationship between you and your audience is a romance,” he continues.

Recalling the joy and surprise he felt years ago when he first saw amphitheaters filled with people who came just to see him, he now thinks, “Thank God they’re still coming to see me. There’s a deeper gratitude and a feeling of being very, very fortunate.”


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