Alannah Myles – Rockinghorse (1992)

AlannahMyles_RockingHorse4.5 out of 5 Stars!

I love this woman! Alannah’s first four albums were all top-notch regarding her vocal performances and the production quality, and her material was generally a nice mixture of Hard Rock and AOR with hints of Blues Rock and Country Rock influences.

Rockinghorse, Alannah’s second album, is one of her most diverse, showcasing her pure melodic vocal prowess along with raspier “kick-butt-rocker” belting. Although this platter did not contain any huge hit along the lines of “Black Velvet,” the break-out single that appeared on Alannah’s debut album, there are indeed plenty of songs on Rockinghorse that could have been just as massively popular had Atlantic Records done better promotion.

“Livin’ on a Memory,” “Love in the Big Town,” “Lies and Rumours,” “Tumbleweed,” “Our World Our Times,” and “Make Me Happy” are all examples of Alannah at her rockin’ best, while “Song Instead of a Kiss,” “The Last Time I Saw William,” and “Sonny Say You Will” showcase Alannah’s mastery of the ballad, with each song (including the acoustic guitar-driven title track itself that closes out the album) making it clear that Alannah had something truly special to offer in the Hard Rock/AOR genre.

The fact that she could have broken into the big time in the same high fashion as Melissa Etheridge is without question. Indeed, Alannah—along with fellow Canadian vocalist Sass Jordan, who also hit the apex of her popularity during the same period—is among the best yet sorely underrated female Hard Rock singers of all time and seriously deserved higher, longer-lasting recognition.

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Alannah Myles – Black Velvet (2007)

AlannahMyles_BlackVelvet2 out of 5 Stars!

Being a die-hard fans of Alannah Myles’s first four albums, I had been looking forward to hearing this “comeback” release after her ten-year absence. Unfortunately, although a few of the tracks contain some decent melodies, and Alannah’s voice is still in fine shape, the modernized production simply ruins most of the songs.

Indeed, the horribly overproduced remake of “Black Velvet” is nowhere near as engaging or as moody as the original version on Alannah’s splendid debut, and not even close to being rock ‘n’ roll, but pure Pop. In the ’90s, Alannah’s albums contained some decent Hard Rock with AOR mixed in, with a touch of Blues and Country Rock as additional spices. Now, however, it sounds as if some “brainiac” got it into their head that Alannah should reinvent herself as a Pop diva, and to tell the truth, I believe the music world has already suffered more than enough with generic dime-a-dozen singers such as Katy Perry or Britney Spears or whoever is the Pop diva of the moment, with all the electronic percussion, computerized musicianship, and overproduced synth Pop/Dance crap. Seriously, the song “Trouble” (at its core) is certainly reminiscent of some of Alannah’s former “blues-based” Hard Rock—such as the track “Rocking Horse” from her second album—but here, the studio filters on her vocals, and the overall electronic sound effects of crickets and white noise overlaying the instrumentation truly decimate the bluegrass-inspired song. What the heck was the producer of this mess thinking?

Therefore I ask, where is the “Hard Rock band” sound that Alannah’s previous albums possessed? Long gone and certainly not present on this album, that’s for sure. If I wanted to listen to some god-awful stylized Pop music by whichever diva is reigning over the Pop charts nowadays, I would have purchased one of their albums. As I said, Alannah obviously still has the vocal prowess—the only reason I grudgingly gave the album 2 Stars—but the horribly cold and calculating, modernized and sinfully sterile Pop ambience destroys any semblance of entertainment. A crying shame.

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