THE DEMO CORNER
Anger and bottled-up emotional pain are usually the best motivators for musical release. For musicians it’s a be-all, end-all drawing well from which to create some honest music for the masses to catch glimpses of the artist’s passion and discontent. Adele took this to all new heights last year with her 21 record that shattered charts the world over. Hard rock’s ambassador from the female sector is Lita Ford and, suffice it say, she’s pretty ticked off and dousing personal fires of her own as she goes.
I personally am so happy to see Lita Ford rising like a phoenix above the hell of personal tragedies and allowing us to be a part of her back-to-basics musical diary. As a personal part of my life for over 30-years since I first heard the Runaways in 1981, I have been a consistent and constant supporter of Lita Ford, and her place in hard rock history is forever cemented in the crusty angst of her inner passions and openness. This new record runs the entire gamut of therapeutic catharsis and is about as apologetic as a hunger-ravaged panther pacing in a barbed wire cage.
From the very first guitar riffs of “Branded” off Ms. Ford’s latest release, Living Like a Runaway, I knew I was in for some Dancin’ on the Edge heaviness with touches of Black to round out the conversational rapport of the lyrics. Drawing from her “ugly divorce” from Nitro’s Jim Gillette, Living Like a Runaway is the album that Ms. Ford complied with the upmost passion and fire to grant her a chance to voice her side of the affair without delving too heavily into the particulars. She manages to let us into her ardor of freedom and internal release. I honestly believe this is Ms. Ford’s best work since the aforementioned Black and showcases the familiar Lita Ford that squeezed into too-tight leather pants and was as tough as nails for so many years. She’s back in a major way and she hasn’t let up one iota, there’s no denying that!
What I love about this record is how easily Ms. Ford transitions from the flat-out heavy rock song (“Branded”) to the bluesy feel so often dismissed as filler by armchair “critics” (“Living Like a Runaway”). The latter track has a certain element of ballad, but it’s more an autobiographical centerpiece to an all-consuming anthem of freedom to roam and find one’s self amidst a torrent of obstacles; it can easily apply to any facet of life. This is the album to tap when distractions, peripheral or otherwise, present themselves and something is needed to balance the scales. “Relentless” is easily a Rocky theme that Bill Conti might not have imagined for a desensitized world some 35-years after his resonating piece became the feel-good signature for beach wimps the world over; the ‘lighter’ “Mother” is a wonderfully sensitive issuance to her kids about the split of their parents, which shows Ms. Ford’s oft-hidden softer side (one that I can personally attest to her having after meeting her in 1992). While expertly co-handled by Gary Hoey, this album is one of the finest rock albums of the modern day and fills the void left by a few dozen 80’s musicians that were thought lost to pop culture trivia answers or grungy, smelly bars on Sunset Strip.
There simply isn’t any filler on Living Like a Runaway; every track here is wholly tangible and even the slower tracks find a niche of heaviness that gets across the point of the track without lending themselves to pretention or simplicity. While there is a basic element throughout the record, there is certainly nothing pedestrian or run-of-the-mill. “Devil in My Head” has a definitive Ozzy feel to it ala No More Tears’ bass line that is easily identifiable, yet not subject to straight-out mimicry; Ms. Ford takes that heavy guitar tone of hers and creates a riff that will ring in your head for a while after hearing it. The Nikki Sixx-penned track “Songs to Slit Your Wrists By” has the Motley bassist written all over it, and with Ms. Ford’s wickedly empowering tone behind it, it’s a majestic addition.
While I was not impressed with Wicked Wonderland very much, this latest effort is simply amazing to hear in repeated listening intervals. The guitar work is always rife with ‘heavier-than-thou’ tones and thick 80’s stadium rock goodness, all created to satiate the palate that so disgustingly craves this now-ancient sound that seems more like Brahms today than the enemy to heavy metal it was years ago. Considering what ‘talent’ we have posing as artistry today, I’ll take these wonderful veterans all day long and twice on any given Sunday.
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3. The Mask
4. Living Like A Runaway
7. Devil In My Head
9. Love 2 Hate U
10. A Song To Slit Your Wrists By
Total playing time: 41:00
Release Date: June 19th, 2012
Lita Ford - Living Like a Runaway
June 19, 2012