Antoinette Michael Thornes - Issues
Reviewing an album during the 2012 Summer Olympics is interesting - I always try to be as unbiased as possible while listening to new music, but it's hard not to get distracted and inspired watching athletes from around the world overcoming fatigue and pain on their way to metallic victory. Tape delay jokes aside, if you've tuned into NBC's coverage for any length of time, you know that they're all about finding the human interest story. Well, Antoinette Michael Thornes has one of her own; incredibly, it's only been a year since she recovered from a crushed larynx to resume a singing career that has resulted in a 12-track effort called Issues. I can't imagine Thornes sounding any more promising than before her unfortunate accident, as her voice is confidently sexy yet downright sultry at times. In other words, it's first-rate female hard rock, and would have been right at home in the '80s alongside other wailing women like Lita Ford and Lee Aaron.
Despite some powerfully rehabilitated lungs, I couldn't help feeling Thornes is holding something back as she proverbially sorts out her Issues. Don't mean for this to be overly critical, but if I were to sum up this album in two words, it would be "stops short." As in there's the potential to have a lot of fun by going completely retro as an example, but for lack of a better term, Thornes and her three accompanying musicians just don't quite give 'er. There seems to be a studio-imposed restraint that robs Thornes' songs of hardship and heartbreak of their rawness, leaving them a little too sanitized if you know what I mean...to go back to the sports analogy for a second, isn't it a source of pride to get your uniform dirty? That's not to say there aren't any highlight reel moments on Issues. The guitars on "Detroit Hustle" are absolutely world-class, and "Between You & Me" packs a pretty good bluesy punch, even though the main riff seems lifted from Band of Skulls. I also really like the echoes of hair metal on "Just Believe", as well as the slower change of pace on "Now or Never".
Antoinette Michael Thornes gets a gold medal and then some for her perseverance and determination, but in the competitive sport that is rock music these days, Issues unfortunately doesn't have enough in my eyes to make the medal podium. However, like the majority of sports and names in the Olympics, this isn't someone you're going to have to wait for years to hear from again!
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