A Decade On...,
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This review is from: Speak A Little Louder (Audio CD)
'Bible Belt' seemed to me to be something of a love song to the 1970s - there was a feeling about it that put me in mind of people like Carole King, Janis Ian, Helen Reddy or Carly Simon, and every song had a kind of comfortable feeling about it that made listening to the whole album a joy, an old friend from the very first track.
With 'Speak A Little Louder', the focus seems to have shifted from the 70s to the 80s. Throughout the whole CD, I was put in mind of both Stevie Nicks and Pat Benatar - just because the feel of the tracks was so similar, rather than the vocals. There's some very Kate Bush moments in there too - 'Hounds of Love' kept coming into my mind.
For me, though, two things stand out.
Firstly, 'Walk the Rainbow to the End' [on the Deluxe Version] is by far the standout track - it has a beautiful Tori Amos-ish feel around the piano at the opening before launching itself into something much larger, and lets the full range of Diane Birch's vocals really take it somewhere very special.
Secondly, in comparison with 'Bible Belt' this seems somewhat joyless. Not that I'm against depressing CDs - but this seems almost a CD of torch songs - of sweeping power ballads and even slightly ponderous love songs. In being such, I think it fails to catch something of Diane as a performer - I've seen her live several times, and the one word I could not use to describe her is joyless...