Erika Wennerstrom is the singer for the rock band Heartless Bastards, or at least she usually is. On this occasion, she is performing as a solo artist, allowing her songs to flow in precisely the way she wants them to go. Sweet Unknown is extra personal, extra intimate, and highly recommended for Heartless Bastards fans. On Partisan Records.
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Thank God. Heartless Bastards haven't actually broken up. Front woman Erika Wennerstrom has just gone solo for a bit. Don't panic - once her solo career hasn't worked out she'll be back with the band.
What she does here is create an album of enormous heartland rock that benefits from some pretty large guitar crunches. Opener 'Twisted Highway' has a big wide Springsteen sheen that obliterates any kind of subtly you may be hoping for and it takes her a little while to come back down. By the time she gets to 'Letting Go' she has stripped the sound back to a much more dignified country twang which suits her Big Voice rather better. On 'Be Good To Yourself' she adds nice banjo twangs and viola to the equation.
But it's all rather Bob Harris for my tastes. Standard US rock for the wideopen roads... a soundtrack to riding into a one horse town and kicking some goddamn ass. Just too loud. Not subtle enough to compete with the masters of similarly earnest heartland/country rock such as Lucinda Williams.
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