Weakest of Karla's three Columbia albums
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 10/30/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Things have taken on a slight pop edge with Karla Bonoff's followup to Restless Heart, Wild Heart Of The Young. Oh, the instrumental elements that made her first two albums standout examples of the California country-rock sound along with the Eagles and J.D. Souther is present, but there's a lot more moving towards the charts on the part of Karla, albeit minimally. Her voice has gotten richer, to the point that I recognize it as being similar to Laura Branigan, but the quality and potency of her songwriting has deteriorated overall, making it a tired affair.Her best-charting and only Top 40 single came in 1982 with the lead track "Personally." Yes, writing or talking on the telephone is no substitute for a face-to-face, although if this was sung in today's Internet age, well, maybe e-mailing is the best way, as sometimes, we might be disappointed in someone we meet, as happened to me recently. Anyway, Karla says of the love she wants to share "I can't mail it in/I can't phone it in/I can't send it in/Even by your closest kin/I'm bringing it to you personally." The brass section and sax solo enhance this song, which is something that Glenn Frey might sing later with "True Love." Eagles alumni Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit contribute backing vocals.A mournful organ and bluesy guitar feature in the slow Carole King or Stevie Nicks-ish "Please Be The One." She tells a lonely soul to open up to love, that maybe something he never knows may be good for him and to do it before it's too late.The painful freeze that occurs after love's illusion collapses is key to the mid-paced "I Don't Want To Miss You", where the sound is and her voice is Ronstadt-ish. The Smogtones, which are producer Kenny Edwards, guitarist Andrew Gold and Brock Walsh provide backing vocals."Even If" sounds like a country ballad mixed with that 70's electric piano sound, where the drums and guitar pound in time with the words, making it catchy. This is a mournful song of someone who's become jaded with life, feeling numb, that dreams are illusory. There is indeed a sense of despair when she sings: "Even if you took my hand/You couldn't lead me/Even if you touched my heart/I wouldn't cry/Even if you'd understand/It wouldn't free me/Even if you gave me wings/I couldn't fly." A standout cut.Anytime Karla Bonoff plays piano, it's usually a ballad, as the slight Eagles-ish flavoured "Just Walk Away" is. Her voice really soars in its Ronstadt/Branigan glory. Yet another sad goodbye song, where "the music stopped before the dance could start." David Sanborn has a mournful sax solo in the middle. A real tearjerker, this one, and yet another standout cut."Gonna Be Mine" is a mid-paced rocker that's not substantial. The title track is another slow mournful Karla piano ballad, with backing vocals by Kenny Edwards and J. D. Souther. The sound is more substantial than the songwriting here. A similar sound is present on "It Just Takes One" made helpful by Joe Walsh's guitar. This is a sad accusation against the weak man whose best skill is running away. As the chorus goes: "It took two to find the love you buried deep inside/And it took two to promise we would never let it die/Yes, it took two and you know it doesn't seem right/
It just takes one to say goodbye." Not giving up when the going gets rough is the lesson here, yes?"Dream" is a comforting lullaby ballad, a needed pause in the struggle in a blue world where nothing ever goes right. Closing one's eyes and dreaming is "a reward due/for one who is lost in the rain." More mournful and depressing than the songs is the lack of emotional oomph and lyrical substantiality, and of course the fact that Columbia Records dropped Karla Bonoff after this weak album. It has its moments, but sadly, not enough of them."
Yet another wonderful musical masterpiece...
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There's no way to improve on anything Karla does. She really is in a class by herself."