Sheer Mag

Need to Feel Your Love

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Sheer Mag are a dream come true for anyone who loves the swagger and guitars of AOR, but hates the overpowering masculinity of it. The Philadelphia quintet have guitars and swagger to spare, but they are led by the powerhouse vocals of Tina Halladay. She has all the bluster and monitor-shredding power of any shaghy-haired hard-rocking dude one might imagine, but her outlook is decidedly less standard issue. It's almost revolutionary to hear her singing about needing to turn it up or getting ready to kick some loser's ass. Sung by a yowling bro, not so great; sung by Halladay, pretty awesome. The guys backing her are on fire, too; whether doling out bitchin' twin guitar leads, stomping through some dusty Southern swamps or rockin' after midnight, they have a firm grasp on every kind of '70s album rock that was worth the vinyl it was pressed on. They had a run of thrilling singles that established their uncompromising sound and approach; Need to Feel Your Love is where it all turns to gold. With a slightly cleaned up production -- it's still sounds like it was recorded in a suburban garage, but one that's been tidied up just a bit -- and some variation in dynamics, the album takes the foot off the pedal sometimes. There is still plenty of windows-down, good-time rock & roll, but there are a couple of ballads and low-key midtempo tracks to go along with them. Like one of their heroes, Thin Lizzy, always knew, and Sammy Hagar never understood, is that there's more than one way to rock, and Sheer Mag do their best to find as many ways as possible. For every brawling blockbuster like "Meet Me on the Street" or "Expect the Bayonet," where it sounds like the guys are playing their instruments with knives instead of fingers and Halladay turns her tonsils inside out, there's a song where they lay back a little and let the rock come to them. The almost disco-fied "Pure Desire" features some flashy bass playing and a stuttering groove, "Milk and Honey" has an overwhelming amount of melancholy guitar arpeggios and Halladay gets as close as she can to sounding sweet, and "(Say Goodbye To) Sophie Scholl" has a burnished, nostalgic glow that would make Phil Lynott very proud. It's easy to imagine him digging the whole album, just like anyone else brought up on the classic sounds of '70s album rock should. Especially if they find the toxic masculinity of the era somewhat problematic. There's none of that to be found on Need to Feel Your Love, just good old-fashioned hard rock that's guilt free and easy to love.

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