Resurrecting the Hole moniker for 2010’s Nobody’s Daughter is simply a matter of business for Courtney Love: her 2004 solo album, America’s Sweetheart, flat-lined, so her assumption is that the name Hole carries some cachet and will raise her profile and, in turn, her sales. That neither Love’s chief collaborator Eric Erlandson nor her lieutenant Melissa Auf der Maur is to be found on this purported reunion is of no serious commercial consequence -- for most observers, Courtney Love was Hole just like Debbie Harry was Blondie, her supporting cast seemingly meaning little to the end product. Of course, the ironic thing is that Love is more dependent on the kindness of others than most singer/songwriters, her work taking on the characteristics of her collaborators -- and in the case of Nobody’s Daughter, they include longtime (and now former) friend Billy Corgan and Michael Beinhorn, two of the architects behind 1998’s Celebrity Skin, the one time Courtney came close to being the genuine crossover rock star she so desperately craves to be. Trace elements of the SoCal sheen of Skin can catch the light on Nobody’s Daughter, but despite its billing as a Hole album, this record wasn’t conceived as a band effort: its genesis is as the second Love solo album and it can’t shake its inward-leaning singer/songwriter roots no matter how many times a “Skinny Little Bitch” is grafted onto the final product. That affected snarl was pulled as the first single in hopes of selling the album as a return to rock, but it’s impossible to disguise the turgid tuneless folk-rock swirl at the heart of Nobody’s Daughter. By swapping guitar armies and clobbering hooks for muddled midtempo ballads, Courtney is placing more weight on her lyrics than she perhaps should given that she’s plowing familiar fields, painting herself as either a martyr or survivor (going so far as to quote Scarlett O’Hara in the concluding “Never Go Hungry”), two personas that don’t quite jibe with the image she’s relentlessly pushed into the spotlight. Naturally, art should stand separate from the artist, but Courtney Love has never made that easy, blurring all lines between the public and private, turning all judgments on her art into a referendum on her. And in the case of Nobody’s Daughter, the tattered, ragged survivor in the gossip rags is no different than the one on record, both capturing Courtney in an inevitable, not so romantic decline, inadvertently turning every cliché into truth as she slowly slips into her final role as alt-rock’s Norma Desmond.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine