Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Music Review - Kim Hill - Brave Heart

Time for a retro review! Somehow my copy of Kim Hill’s Brave Heart went MIA but thanks to some friendly and completely legal web site out there, I have it back. It’s been nearly twenty years since I’ve heard the album and many times when I’ve dipped back I hear cheese and/or music that has not aged well. However in this case the music has held up remarkably. Brave Heart being her third album, Hill had proven her ability to sell records enough that the executives stopped trying to mold her into whatever flavor they thought she was and let her be herself. I’ve noticed this on many other Christian artists where the first two albums are bland and generic and if they survive the gauntlet they are finally allowed to fully express themselves on album three. Or maybe it’s that the Kirkpatrick-Kennedy writing team (who seemed to write 90% of the songs published by Word during that era) takes two albums to fully pick up a singers vibe. In any case, the album is a home run!
The album kicks off with “Words,” a solid rocker with enough slight twists to keep your attention but not so much as to offend radio fans. Lyrically this is an exhortation to watch your words. In fact, many of the albums from Word in this period are filled with such instruction for holiness. Then, mid-song, strings and horns enter and it’s a kind of parade. Different! And they’re the real deal instead of the midi-junk so you know the record company has high expectations and are willing to open their pockets a little. “Satisfied” is more relaxed with a tinge of country to go with artful evangelical lyrics. I think “Mysterious Ways” as the radio single but if it was it’s an odd choice. It’s very quiet, almost spooky, and very sparse. “Round and Round” follows this dark(ish) song and I had forgotten how much I like it. The song totally rocks and Tommy Simms goes all out with noodley bass parts. Plus they shake things up with the rhythm in the verse to keep things fun. The bridge of “It was in my head then / Its my heart now” sums up the song and the changes we go through. In hearing the chorus I’m realizing that the album is half over and I haven’t heard any mention of Jesus or Christ, just generic references like “Only your sweet love was gonna save me.” Hmmm. It was something I probably thought was “edgy” back then but the older me thinks that you should give credit where it’s due.
Side two. “Stop My Heart” is a great song about not giving your heart away with a cool drum pattern that I now realize was heavily influenced by “Time of the Season” by the Zombies. “Gotta stop my heart / Before it runs away with you / And takes me farther than I think I’d like to be” and “I thought that you were the one that I could give my love to / But now I’m not so sure” … great, encouraging stuff for any teen finding themselves sucked into a breakneck romance. “She’ll Come Around” is a semi-story song about a young woman building a wall of anger that can be torn down with a little love. But again, no mention of the source of said generic love. “Don’t Face The World Alone” has an 80s keyboard sound that is almost bagpipy but not distractingly so. “Even the bravest heart needs help sometimes” is the encouraging theme of this simple song that wisely was placed on side two, even if it is the “title track.” The final two tracks on the album are solid but not stellar.
Okay, so it's a wimpy ending but 2/3 of the songs are very strong.