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CD REVIEWS: Soozie Tyrell comes into her own
The Patriot Ledger - JAY N. MILLER
WHITE LINES, Soozie Tyrell, (Treasure Records)
Here's one of the year's best rock albums from a heretofore unheralded source. Soozie Tyrell has perhaps been best known as the violinist in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. The 11 original tunes on this CD mark Tyrell immediately as both a compelling songwriter and talented singer. The overall sound of the album will not disappoint fans of ''The Boss,'' but the rootsy authenticity of her rock reminded me most of John Mellencamp during his ''Scarecrow'' and ''Lonesome Jubilee'' period. The title cut leads off the album with a whirlwind autobiographical tale set amid soaring heartland rock. Constant movement and the accompanying family changes are portrayed in evocative vignettes, using the road as a recurring metaphor. The payoff is that as a professional musician, Tyrell has never really stopped travelling, with all its benefits and travails. Tyrell's violin leads are set against lead guitar from a guest named Springsteen, the song has undeniable power that instantly draws you in. Tyrell's vocals might suggest a deeper-voiced Sheryl Crow, or perhaps a more buoyant Lucinda Williams, and the slow ballad ''Ste. Genevieve'' offers a fine sample of her skill. There might be more than a dollop of autobiographical content to ''The Wild Ones'' too, a midtempo rocker about maturity that allows Tyrell's vocal to slide effortlessly from blithe and casual to aching regret. Tyrell's backing band is excellent throughout, and Bob Dylan band-member Larry Campbell's mandolin provides superb color to the love-on-the-rebound tune ''Have a Little Patience.'' There's admirable variety on this CD, from a thoughtful Celtic ballad ''Ferdouganal,'' to the otherworldly feel of ''Who Rules Your Life,'' a dreamy rocker with jazzman Hiram Bullock adding a spacey guitar solo that works perfectly against Tyrell's synthesizer violin solo. The way Tyrell uses the contrast between her voice and violin on the kissoff song ''Ain't Goin' Back'' is marvelous. My own favorite would be the joyous rocker ''Out on Bleecker Street,'' a sort of memento of her struggling, younger days. Here guest vocalists Patti Scialfa (Mrs. Springsteen), Patty Blee and Lisa Lowell, along with a backing quintet that includes both Bullock and Campbell on guitars, craft a deliriously vibrant song with as much charm and pure joy at being alive as anything Springsteen himself ever wrote.