Scarred Label: Hybrid Recordings
Former Concrete Blonde bassist and frontwoman Johnette Napolitano is back with her first official solo album, Scarred. One of rock's leading ladies since Concrete Blonde scored an alt-rock hit with the anthemic ballad "Joey" in 1990, Napolitano offers up her trademark vocal intensity along with tunes in her usual wide range of emotions.
The album includes covers of Coldplay's "The Scientist" and the Velvet Underground's "All Tomorrow's Parties," and the latter seems much better suited to Napolitano's vibe and vocal style. But it's the 10 original songs that shine while revealing a rock and roll woman who's clearly been around the block a few times. The title track veers between acoustic lament and full-throttle choruses about a night out that seems to have gone wrong. Napolitano has definitely seen the dark side.
The album really takes off with "Poem for the Native," which casts Napolitano as a female version of Jim Morrison's "Mr. Mojo Risin." The tune recalls several Doors songs as Napolitano gives a spoken voice reading about ghosts and shamanic musings before belting out the rock choruses and then moving into a full-on musical pow-wow at the end.
Another standout track is "Just Like Time," a mid-tempo rocker somewhat reminiscent of "Joey" – it's a song you can roll down the windows and cruise down the road to.
"Save Me" is quintessential Napolitano, with mournful verses again exploding into powerful choruses where she really belts it out. While Concrete Blonde guitarist Jim Mankey's masterfully tasty leads are missed, the production is nonetheless top notch. "Everything for Everyone" steps it up another notch as Napolitano rocks out while reclaiming her independence from bad habits and bad people.
"I'm Up Here" closes the album with all the best elements – another spoken word intro that segues into a pissed-off rant against the world's demons, with multiple layers of acoustic and electric guitars and one of the album's best vocal performances.
Scarred probably won't reach many new listeners, but old fans should find much to like.