Arlene Bishop – Cut A Man’s Heart Out (CD)

Pieces of Sheryl Crow and Sarah McLaughlin make their way to the front of “Cut A Man’s Heart Out”, as Bishop does a strong, vocal-led pop assault (pop as in the tradition of Suzanne Vega, not as in the case of Ms. Spears. The light country-influence placed on the top of “Metaphor for your Life” really allows Bishop to really work with a broad range of sound in what traditionally is a stifling genre. What starts out slow in the title track (Angel Mix) really begins to latch its claws on a listener with a very interesting and memorable melody.

A lot of what is the common fare on “Cut A Man’s Heart Out” are the slower tracks, much like “Ruin Me”. This flies in the face of convention, which would equally have on one of these albums quicker, poppier songs and more introspective tracks like “Ruin Me”. This slower tempo is something different for this style of music, but really causes the disc to slow down in the all-important middle section of the disc. Tracks like the aforementioned “Ruin Me”, “One Shoe”, and “Arctic Wolf”: are all solid and showcase Bishop’s vocals equally well, but do little to convince listeners to maintain listening to the disc. Perrhpas the strongest track on “Cut A Man’s Heart Out” comes during this slower section of the disc, during “(You Can’t) Bend the River”. This track has Bishop move into a Stevie Nicks-type of vocals while the track’s instrumentation looks toward older (seventies) country for its inspiration.

Tracks like the bongo-infused “Half Plus Half More” are all a certain level of quality, but the atmosphere present during the track really seems to be hollow. The artificially created silence at the top of the track really makes the track suffer, but it is only a few minutes later during “Au Revoir, Superstar” that Bishop is able to come back successfully. The inclusion of harmonica during the track really gives “Superstar” a sound that is reminiscent of the halcyon days of campus-rock (“Four”-era Blues Traveler). Bishop’s work during the entirety of the CD is quite like a rollercoaster; for every momentary dip in the sound of the disc, there are corresponding dizzying heights that will absolutely shock and awe the listeners. The style of music may be rooted in the pop paradigm, but this is not the trite fare of Avril Lavigne or Alanis Morrisette.

Top Tracks: Au Revoir, Superstar, Cut A Man’s Heart Out

Rating: 6.0/10

Arlene Bishop – Cut A Man’s Heart Out / 2005 Factor / 12 Tracks / http://www.arlenebishop.com / Reviewed 29 June 2005

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