Cindy Bullens


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Cindy Bullens continues her third comeback on a strong singer/songwriter album that rocks with heart and class. Although Steve Earle and John Hiatt make only small backing vocals contributions, their company, and that of producer Ray Kennedy, who has worked extensively with Earle on two of his best albums (I Feel Alright and El Corazon), provide an indication of Bullens' direction on her second release in two years for the same label. With a throaty, defiant voice, the singer delivers a consistently convincing performance digging into a set of songs that connect musically and emotionally. Tough and tender, upbeat Stonesy tracks like "Hammer & Nails" and "Sensible Shoes" -- a raging, sexy rocker that is the album's punchiest track -- share space with compassionate ballads and the sassy, swampy mandolin-laced likes of the adamant "Baby, I Want Your Love." Bullens works Neil Young's Harvest fields on "The Right Kind of Goodbye" and takes some hints from Hiatt's storytelling on "Cry to You," a song about her bumpy life told without the least bit of sentimentality. Although her subject matter is less political, Bullens shares some traits with the Indigo Girls' Amy Ray as she spits out lyrics yet retains a tender underside to her approach. Like her friends Hiatt and Earle, Bullens is a survivor who has matured over her sporadic 20-year career, and on Neverland is releasing the best music of her life. Brimming with musical honesty and emotional sincerity, it's is a sober but often thrilling album of moving songs performed with rugged passion that could only be recorded by someone who has been there and done that.

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