"And those two reviewers down there should be banned from the site for shooting down an album of such purity and beauty. (Just a figure of speech as everyone's entitled to their own opinion.) But from a genre (LA Rock) which has run out of fashion for twenty years and never enjoyed a critical reassessment, Restless Nights is one of its best-kept secrets, (also check out Laura Allan's Opening Up To You, very hard to find but issued on CD in Asia.) There's no need to recommend people AWAY from it, since few people would have bought it anyway.If you're not convinced by Only A Fool, which features acoustic guitar works reminiscent of Jackson Browne's For Everyman, the three-part harmony between Karla, James Taylor and JD Souther on The Water Is Wide will do the job. Sure, Karla is not much of a singer, but neither is Jackson, Carole King or Laura Nyro. That's the essence of the singer/songwriter movement...that songwriters should do their own songs, even if they're not technically competent. There's a special affinity between the heart that's saying these things and the voice that says it. That was the end of the Tin Pan Alley era. If I could give this album a seven or eight stars to balance out the unfair reviews (by one person with two computers?) I would. You're turning people away from something truly sincere and beautiful."
What a voice and emotion! Karla does it again!
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 10/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Karla Bonoff followed up her debut with Restless Nights, which was again produced by Kenny Edwards. The ballads are still full of the pleasures and pains of love's ups and downs, conveyed all to clearly with her Carole King-ish voice, but the upbeat songs yield more rock guitar, giving her country/rock hybrid more grit.The first country-rockish song, "Trouble Again" is one of those down songs, haunted by lost love. Yet another song covered by Linda Ronstadt.A split love affair is the subject of the title track, which is a sad ballad country/rock ballad. One of the woman's loves she describes as ice, the other as fire, and it's the latter who seems more the pillar of support. However, she makes it clear she's to blame: "'Cause I wasn't very good at being true/And now I look back at all the broken dreams/And wonder if I could have changed them."The next three songs are all standout cuts, and demonstrate Karla's songwriting skills, except for the cover tune, and her conveying the emotion of each song. The shock of finding a love letter addressed to a loved one and the realization that there has been another woman is the topic of "The Letter" The quiet and soft synth keyboards underscore that quiet realization; also when she sings, "As you came up the stairs/You asked "Are you all right?"/"I'd better go" was all I said/But there in your room I saw something that/I really wish I never read." My second favourite song here.She covers Jackie DeShannon's "When You Walk In The Room" and the jangly rock guitar and pounding drums in the chorus gives this country-ish song a rock tinge. This is one of the up songs: "I can see expression on my face/I can strange sensation taking place/I can hear the guitar playing lovely tunes/everytime that you walk in the room.""Only A Fool" is another quiet ballad, this time with an acoustic guitar accompanying those haunting quiet keyboards. The chorus tells what this song's about: "So don't say that it's love you lacked/I paid the price now we're paying the tax/I gave it all, and I got nothing back/Only a fool gives a heart like that." This song was also done by Maura O'Connell.Pleading someone not to go away, that things will work out, telling them you need them is what the upbeat "Baby Don't Go" is about. "You're takin' all I got and now you're leaving/I thought love was something to believe in" she says in the opening. However, she warns, "And if you close the door/I can't wish you well anymore/You know you really turned on me/So don't come running back 'cause I know you'll never see." This song was also featured in the Atlantic City soundtrack.Years before Sting sand "If You Love Someone Set Them Free", Karla did the similarly-themed "Never Stop Her Heart." depicts the follies of keeping someone caged and using the bird analogy, cutting her wings. There's also a conflict between wanting to be free and having someplace to belong. In the end, she is able to fly away, and how she does baffles the man.If the "free bird" in the previous song decided to stick around and give up her traveling days, the rocking "Loving You" would be the song she'd sing. It's a song of confidence in one's partner.Given Karla's songs of love gone bad, and her melodic voice, covering the traditional standard "The Water Is Wide" is apropos, and she does it so admirably. It's my favourite song here and I always feel something when I hear "Oh love is gentle and love is kind/The sweetest flower when first it's new/but love grows old and waxes cold and fades away/like morning dew." There is an accordion solo in the middle. I've heard Charlotte Church and Rory Block cover this as well, and Karla's rendition ranks way up with those two.Restless Nights is better than the first album from the power and emotion Karla puts out in her song."
Still crazy about karla after all these years...
trilbygrrrl | St. Paul, MN United States | 12/11/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"as i sit here listening to my new restless nights CD over and over, i am struck at how deeply melodic these great songs are. with their beautifully simple renditions they are some kind of sweet relief to hear again. karla bonoff is one of the greats...she is right at home in the collections of the most sincere singer-songwriter listeners...along side laura nyro, carol king, joni mitchel, sarah mcLachlin. i can't stop playing it, whether vinyl or cd, it's really an exquisite spin."
Replace those old albums with CD's!
Betty Elders | 07/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have been a big fan of Karla Bonoff since day one! Yup I bought her albums when they were first released. Now I have to replace them with CD's!
Voice, harmony, lyrics, and great back-up musicians she has it all. This is a sound that has been drowned out far too long by bands that shout words while treating every instrument like it is a drum, and quavering, bouncy, mediocrity, what would have been called "bubble-gum rock" in the 70's, music aimed at pre-teens, but played by 20 and 30 somethings in teenage guise. Thanks goodness these great singer-song writers are bieng preserved on CD and are available at Amazon."
Deeply affecting singer-songwriter
Dave | United States | 09/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This second album from Karla Bonoff, 1979's "Restless Nights", has her incredible knack for deeply affecting, reflective songs on full display. She does once again go heavy on the love lyrics, but they're terrific love lyrics that are winningly intimate, & dig deep--it doesn't come across as mindless, annoying musings from some teenage girl's diary (even though they do seem extremely personal). They're a lot deeper than that & they are eloquently written. Karla's vocals are simply excellent: expressive, & lending themselves perfectly to the material (imagine a mix of the timbre of Linda Ronstadt with the delivery/ mannerisms of Jackson Browne). Speaking of the material, not only is it excellent lyrically--with rich melodies, masterful use of dynamics, & crisp performances, the songs come together gracefully & organically. A perfect example is the confessional title track, which finds Karla vividly looking back on "those restless nights" with a mix of fondness & regret. There's plenty more intimate gems as well, like "The Letter", which features Karla backed just by electric piano, as well as "Only A Fool", which is super-slow, ultra laid-back, runs over 6 minutes, but is aboslutely arresting anyway--kind of like talking to a great friend on the phone for hours & just losing yourself in the conversation & losing all track of time. The persistance tale "Never Stop Her Heart" is yet another gem. Plus, it's not just great ballads that the album features--"Baby Don't Go" (co-written by Kenny Edwards, who also produced the album) is a deathlessly catchy mid-tempo rocker, & the rocking cover of Jackie DeShannon's "When You Walk In The Room" fits in perfectly; the feel-good tune "Loving You" (which does inescapably recall Carly Simon's "The Right Thing To Do") is a gem as well. Apart from the title track & "The Letter" which are tracks 2 & 3 respectively, the record alternates back & forth between a rocker & a ballad with each track, & it does so naturally & seamlessly, which is not as easy to pull off as you may think. It never feels forced like, "Oh, we need a rocker here," or "Hmm, better slip in a ballad." Unfortunately though, there are a couple of tracks that do mar the album a bit. The first is the opening track "Trouble Again" (also co-written by Edwards)--with its lyrics/ chorus accusing a guy she's obsessed with for getting her "in trouble again" even though she "never really was a bad girl" as if it's entirely his fault & she can't control herself whatsoever, & the fact that it's so in-your-face about it, is a little annoying, & furthermore, the song is considerably below the catchiness standard set by the other rockers on the album although it's still respectably tuneful. The other one is the closer, the traditional "The Water Is Wide", which features James Taylor; it's certainly respectable but it feels like filler--it just kind of goes along without capturing the same arresting magic of "Only A Fool" despite the similar acoustic guitar-based style, although it does have some neat accordian on it. So, these two lesser tracks aren't disasters, and in the end, they don't mar the overall experience very much. With all of the album's positives, which far outweight the negatives, the 5 stars are well-deserved. Plus, this record strikes me as pointing the way straight to so many of the Lilith Fair-type confessional singer-songwriters of the '90s who wallow in mediocrity (if that) & couldn't in their wildest dreams hope to even come close to matching the brilliance of "Restless Nights" by Karla Bonoff."