Review Summary: Yes we finally have a solo effort from Ms Harry that's actually worth listening to from start to finish!
I’m a diehard Blondie fan. The song writing team of Harry and Stein remains today as one of the world’s best. Yet, Deborah Harry’s solo efforts, never appealed to me. To this day, I still don’t quite know why. Sure, ‘Backfired’, ‘I Want That Man’ and ‘French Kissin’’ were great songs, but the whole albums never really caught my attention. Come forth, ‘Necessary Evil’ what I dare name as Deborah Harry’s greatest solo effort to date. Her voice is deeper, by several octaves, yet her song writing has never been stronger, and her execution, never more brilliant.
The first release of the album ‘Two Times Blue’ was one of Harry’s self penned. She’s definitely sounding older, but one could say, she’s never sounded better. The chorus demonstrates that Harry still has the ability for that ‘Heart Of Glass’ range, whilst the instrumentation on the track remains true to her music roots. It’s a simple genetic make up. Guitar, Drums, Keyboards, Bass, Harry, minimalist reigns supreme here. Harry really knows what works for her. Some of her other efforts have seen her experiment too much with sounds unnatural to her voice, yet when she chooses to remain true to what she knows, magic is made.
It appears a move of label was a good idea for Harry, now signed to Friday Morning Quarterback’s "Rock Label of the Year" for 2008, ‘Eleven Seven Music’, Harry, seems to hitting a more Alternative edge. Tracks 2 through 6 remain as incredible as the first. ‘School For Scandal’ is another up tempo piece with a driving guitar riff and drum ostinato with Harry showing off her vocal skill once again. ‘If I Had You’ is a slower more emotional piece, yet still, the song is powerful and captivating. The vocals of Harry sit towards the top of her range, to which she places herself comfortably. ‘Deep End’ and ‘Love With A Vengeance’ are two more pieces of brilliance on Harry’s behalf. They both possess catchy rhythms to which stick in your head whilst still having incredible lyricism behind them. The album is open, and I must say, I’m more than impressed.
Ok, so track seven, completely unnecessary. Instrumental interlude ‘Charm Redux’, it kind of ruins the run. You need a pick me up after being stumped for 1.15, so ‘You’re Too Hot’ aims to do it. It’s kind of a dance/rock track, if you had to classify it. My guess is it was Harry’s way of breaking up the album. To an extent it works, but on another, she could do so much better, so it’s left to the following track ‘Dirty And Deep’ to do the job, and a job it does. Harry still has the sex appeal that made her famous, and in her 60’s, it’s an incredible attribute. The verses are sung in a lower seemingly monotonous way before she blasts the chorus in a demonstration of range and length. The notes are held with power with Harry once again showing she still has the power that has placed her on the pedestal she sits today.
‘What Is Love’ is another slower piece with Harry showing her emotional fragility and demonstrating why she is a song writing force to be reckoned with. The powerful lyricism is nothing like any of Harry’s past solo efforts and is placed in front of a beautiful performing media accompaniment. ‘Whiteout’ follows, and is one of my favourite on the album. It’s a more Liz Phairesque track, but with the Harry edge attached. The guitar punches through the verses whilst the vocals place in perfectly amongst the dense instrumental chorus. ‘Needless To Say’ sits at a tempo between ballad and anthem. Harry’s vocals sit in a more subdued state yet the lyrics pulse through the speaker. The texture thins with Harry sitting in a place I would have loved to have seen in her past albums.
As the album winds up, it’s becoming apparent that criticisms of Harry’s vocals in the past couple of years are redundant. Her range is still incredible, as demonstrated in ‘Heat Of The Moment’ where she sings quite high in her somewhat low voice. This is the type of interlude that “Charm Redux’ attempts and fails to be, it’s a perfect introduction to the final phase of songs on Harry’s album. ‘Charm Alarm’ is full of Electronica yet with Harry showing her Alternative side, again, the song taking on a feel similar to that of Liz Phair. Jen Jen, does the same thing, and demonstrates the prowess of Harry and Stein in an instrumental fashion. I have a pet hate for instrumentals, yet this one is somewhat appealing, like a way for the album to begin to wind up. The guitar reigns supreme over the other offerings in the line up and follows into the track ‘Naked Eye’ quite nicely. Another piece with Harry showing her vocal range still is a force to be reckoned with, following into ‘Paradise’ quite nicely. She finishes with another ballad and to be honest another favourite on the album.
When I picked up Harry’s latest solo effort, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t braced for anything good. She hadn’t really had a decent release since ‘Koo Koo’ and the odd decent single here and there wasn’t much to go off of, yet, I’m more than impressed. I’m ecstatic that the Deborah Harry we all have come to know and love is back, with a vengeance. It’s been a long time coming, but finally, we have a must hear Deborah Harry solo album.