Carol Kleyn's 1976 album Love Has Made Me Stronger was the first of three self-released albums by this West Coast harpist, pianist, and songwriter of no renown to the general populace (except to street corner and Renaissance fair audiences), but who played some dates on Gregg Allman's Laid Back solo tour, and made the acquaintance of Irving Azoff, Joni Mitchell, Phil Spector, and even Liza Minnelli, but failed to secure a record deal and therefore issued her albums herself. (Before recording, she served as the soundwoman for Bobby Brown of "One Man Orchestra" fame.) Kleyn's music is very much of its time, the late hippie era; the album's title is reflected perfectly in her songs and wonderfully clear soprano voice with abundant natural vibrato that rings true as it swoops and soars. Her melodies are quite skilled for someone who didn't yet considerself a songwriter. She accompanies herself on harp and piano, and wrote all 12 songs. The optimism Kleyn conveys in these tunes is not only effusive, it's captivating. Elements of folk music, American and Celtic, are plentiful. Kleyn sings about love often and variously: "Love's Goin Round" portrays it as a presence in the natural, cosmic, and human worlds; "Blackbird" paints a portrait of the bird signing a love song to the world; "Baby Come Close," "Well Glory Be," "Come on Babe Let's Dance" and the title track are of a more personal but no less ecstatic nature. "Ode to the Monarch" is cosmic hippie folk at its best. "Street Song" is a haunting instrumental improvisation. "Higher Than High" isn't about drugs but about falling in love. "Mountain Child" offers her revelations about the mysteries and glories of nature and its gifts on a grand piano. The whole record feels confident in its delivery. Yes, it sounds like it reeks of incense, pictures of wood nymphs, and primordial innocence. But who cares? Kleyn's playing on both instruments is adept. Her autobiographical liner essay reflects beautifully the naivete of her youth, but is far from cynical in retrospect; just matter of fact. For anyone interested in underground music from the later '60s through the mid-'70s, Love Has Made Me Stronger is recommended listening.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek