Jef Fazekas | Newport Beach, California United States | 10/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Cindy Bullens' career path has had it's share of ups and downs, advances and setbacks. More feminine than, say, Joan Jett, but more masculine than Pat Benatar, Stevie Nicks, Joan Armatrading or Bonnie Raitt, this rocker must have had many an A&R marketing exec scratching their head! Granted, image over substance really shouldn't matter, but, hey, this IS the music industry! Add to this extended periods of time away from the industry spotlight to raise - and grieve for (daughter Jessie's death in 1996 at age 11) - her family, record company politics and a constantly changing music market, and you have a career that's been pretty much three steps forward, two steps back for much of the last 25+ years. And that's too bad....more people should know about Bullens, especially now, when she's turning out the best music of her career. Her latest release, DREAM #29, while not as instantly captivating as her two previous albums (1999's poignant SOMEWHERE BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH and 2001's brilliant NEVERLAND), is still full of thoughtful lyrics, sturdy arrangements and heartfelt vocals. What more could you ask for?!? Opening things up is the sultry, sweaty, sexually-charged "Oriental Silk." All breathy and hushed, the song slides over the listener much the same way the shimmmering fabric of the title does. In a deep, assured vocal, Bullens seems to be telling us that good things come to those who wait, that patience will pay off. A good album opener. "Jellico Highway" has a nice, easy shuffle to it, a distinct contrast to it's open-wound break-up lyrics. Bullens' delivery is understated and honest, oozing...realness...which, over the last few years, has become one of her greatest strengths. Simply beautiful. From here we segue into DREAM #29's strongest moments, with a group of four songs that make up the CD's most powerful block. First up is "Box Of Broken Hearts." A Cindy Bullens CD would not be a Cindy Bullens CD nowadays without a Rolling Stonesesque rocker. As with NEVERLAND's "Sensible Shoes", you can just picture Bullens opening for the Stones, blasting this crunchy, guitar-driven number out of the speakers! She also has the innate ability to mix sounds and styles. For instance, this gutsy rocker is laden with deep lyrics ("If the sun comes up in the mornin'/I try to see it as a lucky day/When my head comes up off the pillow/I move my feet/I never take things for granted/I've seen the world fall apart"). Oh, yeah! Next we have the delicate "Paper And Glass." With it's alternately ringing and strumming guitars, this aching mid-tempo rocker could be about a lost child, an ex lover, a departed friend or family member ("Paper and glass is all I have/What's left of you and me/Paper and glass inside a frame/I feel the cold of glass upon my lips/And I know I'm always gonna feel like this")....whatever the case, the track is both haunting and genuine. And then there's the title cut, the blistering "Dream #29 (One True Love)." Anchored by Elton John's pounding piano (John hasn't rocked this hard on any of his own stuff in YEARS!!), the track has both a raunchy kick and a smooth swirl to it. Bullens' vocal also alternates between a snarl and a (almost) purr. I'm glad they've chosen this as the first "single"....I don't know how much airplay it'll receive in today's restricted market, but it's different from anything she's done recently, and shows her continued growth. Wrapping up this killer 1/2/3/4 punch is the gut-wrenching "Mockingbird Hill", probably the saddest, most powerful, break-up song since Carly Simon's classic "We're So Close" off of her 1979 SPY album. An acoustic strummer, the arrangement and muted instrumentation perfectly cushion Bullens' slightly detached, obviously wounded vocal and resigned lyrics ("I drove past our house up on Mockingbird Hill/The ghost of our love must be living there still/There's a bike in the driveway and a dog in the yard/And no indication that life can be hard/On Mockingbird Hill"). I dare you not to be moved by the power of this track! "Mockingbird Hill"'s sadness is followed by the joyous bounce of "7 Days", a tale about the things that keep us going, and the barroom slinkiness of "This Ain't Love", a redo of (or, more accurately, a maturing of!) her own "Tell Me This Ain't Love" from 1994, now done as a duet with Delbert McClinton. Of the two, "This Ain't Love" is the most instantly appealing, with Bullens and McClinton wrapping their vocals around each other like musical asps, but "7 Days" has a light buoyancy to it that offsets many of DREAM #29's darker moments. Up next is "Too Close To The Sun", a quiet song about knowing that a relationship is right...it's just the timing that may be off ("You've got too much going/And me, I'm on the run/So I watch our dreams go up in smoke/We're too close to the sun"), followed by "Love Letter From Las Vegas", a hip-shaking rocker (doing the opening two verses in spoken word form really works!). Things wrap up with the subtle, sensitive "January Sky." A stripped-down tale about the power of love ("Baby we got a good thing/Baby our love is strong/I know we got some trouble now/It won't last long/There's a hole in the darkness/Now it's indigo blue/Baby, things'll get brighter/'Cause our love is true"), "January Sky" ends DREAM #29 on a series of notes, be they powerful, emotional and/or beautiful. And, really, over the last 27 years, have we come to expect anything less from Cindy Bullens?? (As with all my reviews, I'm giving the disc an extra half a star for including the lyrics)."
Worth waiting for - another winner
Living in Arizona | Arizona, USA | 12/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I found Cindy Bullens' music after the death of our 17 year old daughter. Her "Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth" CD continues to touch my heart, and "Neverland" does as well with both her lyrics and music. I've followed her career and waited for another release. Dream #29 doesn't disappoint. Cindy is such a talented musician, and her music ranges from toe-tapping to deep and soulful. She's one of the best artists around, and it's great to have her back."
WELL ABOVE THE CROWD
J. Gambino | 11/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD is another very strong release by a performer known for impeccable attention to musical and lyrical detail. I imagine her sculpting each song until it reaches her own highest standard. Once again, she has the courage to share with her listeners deepest thoughts and emotions. She reminds me of Jackson Browne in her ability to convey a message... but never at the expense of the music which remains rock oriented. "Mockingbird Hill" and "Jellico Highway" are two of many favorites on this collection which has depth enough to keep it fresh for many years to come."
Another hit by Cindy
Valentine4 | Portland Maine | 10/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Got to see Cindy play this year at Baystock 2005 with Delbert McClinton and James McMurtry. She played several of the songs from here new CD to a packed house and proved to all of us that her time in the spotlight has come. It is no wonder stars like Elton John, Tim Wakefield and Delbert Mcclinton have agreed to perform with her on this CD! Its a CD to tell your friends about!"