Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Lita Ford ~ Living Like A Runaway

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Style: heavy metal
Label: SPV
Year: 2012
Home: n/a

Members: Lita Ford ~ vocals/guitars/keyboards
Gary Hoey ~ guitars/bass/keyboards/b. vocals
Matt Scurfield ~ drums

Additional: Crispin Cioe, Arno Hecht ~ sax
Larry Etkin ~ trumpet
Mickey Kanan, Tayla Lemieux ~ b. vocals

Guest: Doug Aldrich ~ guitar



Harsh, heavy, angry & everything but the heavily commercialized hard rock sex-diva we remember from 80's MTV is how I briefly & maybe unfairly describe the latest album by former Runaway turned sex symbol rock chick LF. Okay, to be fair, LF hasn't been that sex symbol since she faded from the charts a long time ago, but ... she's never been this angry, emotional, raw or honest or even close to it. Her love songs were always I want you or miss you or I can't have you, not I hate you, I don't want to be with you, you hurt me, you've damaged me. Her songs were shallow, much like a lot of her 80's big hair peers so I'm not picking on her, but now she's turned the tables around & penned an album that puts on the table in bitter honesty all the anguish following the messy break-up of her marriage & loss of her life as she knew it. For example, "Branded" opens the album with "I don't want to fight you you no more/I watched you put your fist through the wall/I don't want to hear you screaming my name/I'm so tired of playing the same old game/yeah, you left you're mark on me". The album just takes off from here. No happy mask over what this album is about. I feel embarrassed to even listen in at times as she's so lyrically raw. Music isn't supposed to be this honest or if it is then it's posing as such or black metal that's expected to be like this. Only Lou Reed comes to mind as having this honesty, though he's a bit more poetic. On first listen this is a heavy album to digest, maybe too heavy, particularly as its just so far from what we know LF for. The songs are stronger, harder edged with striped back riff oriented grooving, the lyrics right up front & her singing some of her best aiming for emotion over technique or typical rock hollers. If you're feeling afraid that the LF you love has been thrown under the carpet, I would ask you to give this new album a chance. If you listened once & weren't sure I would also say listen again. I put it away after a first listen as I found it too challenging, but later listens brought out more & more depth & I now honestly call this her greatest moment as a songwriter. What I noticed on later listens is how LF's anger is digested through different lenses. "Branded" is about lovers relationships turned bitter, while "Hate" is about hate kids feel from their peers for being different. Then there's "Mother" which is a cry that is far too autobiographical to be comfortable, as she sings about a mother to her son who is obviously distant with the lines "please understand why I had to leave/the pain was deep/he was hurting me". It's one of the most gut-wrenching moments on the album. In a similar thematic vein is the Jekyll/Hyde themed "The Mask." "Aslyum" is looking back on memories & being alone with the line "I don't want to die in the asylum", while on the other hand "Relentless" looks into the future & is a driving song about pushing forward with lyrics drawing comparisons with freight trains & fighters in the ring. "Relentless" might also be one of the best songs musically. The only songs not laced with anger might be the title track, a softer ballad with a potentially autobiographical slant about a youth with a guitar leaving town to do something in life. In many ways it reminds me of Reba McIntire's "Fancy" with mom saying go & do it. "Devil In My Head" is more a poetic romp about "love don't come easy for a lonely soul like me" & screams wannabe commercial hit but pales in comparison to the other more personal songs. Twenty years ago for LF this might have been a hit, but she's upped her own bar & thus it loses it's potency. "Luv 2 Hate You" is one of the non-personal tracks that keeps the album lighter & not tilting into murderous regret & anger. Album starts with "Branded" & ends with "A Song To Slit Your Wrists By" if one had any question on the intention of this album. Though the later is the one song that should be missing as it's a strange affair of cold electronic beats & industrial guitars. Though, sadly I only want to slit my wrists out of boredom with the song. Would have been better on the previous album Winter Wonderland, but its the only one moment in the biggest jewel in LF's crown.

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