Tina Lear,
The Road Home
(Red Hat, 2000)

The Road Home falls in the very nebulous category of CDs that are good and yet do not always do much for me. Tina Lear is a skilled musician and she has a good voice. The music is excellent and the lyrics are rich. Even so, more often than not, the songs simply do not evoke much of a reaction in me.

The music, I'll admit, is good and the musicians are likewise. There are 23 musicians supporting Lear on the CD, including Mitch Watkins (programming, guitars, percussion and backup vocals), Mark Ivester (whistle, drums and percussion), Brannen Temple (drums and snare), Howard Levy (harmonica), Clipper Anderson (bass), Gene Elders (violin), Bob Meyer (fluegelhorn and trumpet) and Roscoe Beck (bass). Lear herself provides vocals, keyboard, piano, kazoo and programming.

The CD starts off with "New Love," an interesting song which, when I hear it, sparks a reaction of, yes, it is good but, so what? The same can be said of "There and Back Again" -- the lyrics are beautiful and Lear's voice wraps itself around them but, in the end, I find it paints a beautiful picture that I am looking at through a window. I am left outside of the song trying to get in.

"Raise your Voice" pulls me in briefly with the pulsating rhythm, but I find it too easy to slide out when the singing starts. "The Village is Ours" usually succeeds in reaching me, its strength blaring, the horns sounding and adding to the strength. Another one that I usually enjoy is "People in Cars," a simple song that looks at traffic in a slightly different way.

The last two songs are absolutely beautiful. First there is "Don't Look Away," a song that calls out, asking that we look at life and face the darkness. Then there is "The Road Home," a powerful song which reaches a hand out to the listener, offering comfort and a hug. Wrapped up in the lyrics and the music is a sense of caring and a desire to travel alongside the listener for awhile.

There are more songs on this CD, but there are only so many ways one can express the gap that sometimes exists between a listener and the music. The songs are good but a barrier remains, one that I cannot bridge. The music and lyrics are so good I wish it wasn't there.

Based on skill alone, this is a CD worth listening to. Perhaps you will find a way past the gap which prevents me from enjoying it to its fullest potential.

[ by Paul de Bruijn ]

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