"I have listened to a great deal of popular music from Elvis to Eminem, but this is one of the most beautiful and lush pop music albums ever. The final song, Feeling Is Mutual, is worth the money all by itself. A rather untypical effort from the usual folksy trio. The three Roche sisters sing like angels and write angelic sentiments. What's so bad about singing about loving your Mom? We could use more songs like this nowadays, when kids routinely diss their parents. The rest of the songs are mostly about the complexities of romantic relationships, but are also about the disillusionment of fame, shyness, the sexual revolution, God, femininity, losing jobs, etc. In other words, it's a very serious, grown-up album. The Roches' singing exudes great warmth and spirituality. The production is very good, although sometimes the drum sound is too thin and weak. But many interesting instruments are used and the arrangements are always clever. Irritating electronics are kept to a minimum after having been misused in a dominant way on the previous album, "Another World". Most importantly, the Roches came up with excellent melodies that make you want to listen to this album time and time again. Most of the best songs the Roches have done were on this album."
SPEAK is the best Roches album
Joshua Smith | New Hartford, CT United States | 08/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don't listen to the rumors that "Speak" is the worst Roches album, because in all honesty, it is the BEST Roches album. This album totally totally changed my life and it continues to inspire me every time I listen to it. The cheesy synth arrangements that adorn the tracks only add to the brilliance of this album in my opinion. I might also add that this album contains my very favorite song of all time not just by the Roches, but by ANY RECORDING ARTIST EVER, which is the song "Merciful God." That song is the work of true geniuses, as are many, many more of songs on this timeless masterpiece. Don't pass it up!!!"
A new, less acoustic era for the Roches
Catherine S. Vodrey | East Liverpool, Ohio United States | 04/30/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although I prefer earlier Roches albums that stick with just their magnificent harmonies and acoustic instrumentation, there are many fine songs on this album. It features a fair amount of electronic instrumentation, with rather weak drum sounds. That's certainly bothersome, knowing what their capabilities are, but there's still no getting around the fact that there are half a dozen really wonderful tunes here.On "Speak," which opens the album, the sisters three sing ruefully about the difficulty and uncomfortableness of coming right out and saying what you really want to say ("O when I open up my beak/I hope that I can quack"). "Big Nuthin'" is a terrific "go to hell" post-breakup tune. And "Cloud Dancing" is an absolutely fascinating amalgam of ancient Chinese text (written by Huang O in the 16th century) and ethereal modern-day music. As usual, the Roches soar musically while maintaining a vaguely ironic edge--anyone familiar with them will giggle upon hearing them sing Huang O's poetry:"Every morning I get up
Beautiful as the Goddess
Of Love in Enchanted Mountain . . .
My slender waist and thighs
Are exhausted and weak
From a night of cloud dancing,
But my eyes are still lewd
And my cheeks are flushed." "I Love My Mom" is both a compliment to their own mother and a complaint about their own motherhood. "Losing Our Job" is almost painfully serious, and a searing examination of a relationship in trouble. Almost all the songs are good, with some being absolutely stellar. The only one that really grates is the overly self-aware "The Anti Sex Backlash of the 80's." All in all, this is a very slightly uneven but still eminently listenable Roches album."
Listen ... and listen and listen and listen ...
Daniel Pellegrino | Eastern North Carolina | 09/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I feel sorry for those that can only compare this album to the ladies' earlier releases even though this one, their sixth as a trio, came ten years after their debut. This album is nothing short of magnificent. As with any Roches music, as appealing as it is upon first listening, the beauty continues to unfold as subsequent passes allow you to focus on all of the different elements and intricacies. First thoughts about the Roches usually go to harmonies and for that they are truly in their own class but their song writing continues to be remarkable -- the styles, the melodies, the lyrics, the phrasing ... then wrap it all up with impeccable execution. But what else is new? As with any Roches material, don't deprive yourself of the joy of intimate familiarity with this album. The more you listen, the more you will want to keep listening.
Frankly, contrary to the comments of some other reviewers, I like their use of electronic instruments on this record. Sure, I too love the purity of their standing alone with just their voices and acoustic guitars but this instrumentation allows them to add new highlights and move in different directions that only serves to demonstrate the depth of their talent and versatility. I even like the drum tracks because they are defined by the Roches and do exactly what the Roches want them to and they are as clever as everything else these three fabulous minds devise. To be honest though, I don't buy Roches music for the percussion.
Some have referred to their music from this period as evidence of a maturing and I would probably agree with that to an extent (heck, they had become 30-somethings instead of 20-somethings) but I'm here to tell you that the content of this album displays all of the wit, charm and beauty that has marked them from the start.
Some of the great tunes on this recording have already been mentioned by others here so I'll just touch on a few more.
Speak -- Great subject matter and so cleverly crafted
Big Nuthin' -- When they sang this song on the Tonight Show, Johnny Carson announced in the intro that it was a true story about their appearance on Saturday Night Live. Keep that in mind as you listen.
In the World -- A simply beautiful, two and a half minute interlude in the middle of the album, this is a lovely melody that showcases the lush texture of Maggie's voice. It took me a long time to stop hitting the repeat button over and over on this one and I still have to make myself allow the CD to play through without my interference (but I'm always rewarded with the great stuff that follows).
Losing Our Job -- This one has a sorta Nashville sound to me (whatever that means). Terre's lead vocals are moving and beautiful and the girls come together for a stirring chorus--not the usual tight harmonies as much as soaring, soulful strains that give me goose bumps.
The Anti-Sex Backlash of the 80's -- a cappella and snappy, an 'only the Roches' kind of tune and another example of the breadth of material in this collection.
Nocturne -- An ethereal blend of original poetry set to music and still another shining example of their talent and versatility.
Broken Places -- A tender song of relationships and healing. Could have been an upper-top-40 tune if they were in that market. By that I mean that the subject matter and song writing would have had that kind of broad appeal.
In general, as usual, each of the girls has key moments of being featured vocally and, when they are all together, Suzzy's lovely tone carries a strong and clear middle range while Terre paints a canvas in the upper register and Maggie provides rich depth and dimension with remarkable precision.
The splendid writing ability of all three girls is well represented on this album. Throughout their body of work, I have thoroughly enjoyed Suzzy's upbeat compositions and some of my favorite Roches pieces over the years have been penned by Terre. Ah, but what of Maggie? Just this: Margaret Roche is probably my favorite composer of all time...and I use 'probably' just to be cautious (I would have no problem deleting that word). Since she began writing--song after song, album after album--she is clearly a genius (I'll spare you that essay) and this album is another crowning achievement.
So...despite being the masterpiece that it truly is, don't be stuck on just "The Hammond Song" forever. Do yourself a favor and get this album and anything else that these girls ever do. Then listen carefully and listen often. You will be richer for it."