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Album Review

Johnny Indovina's ending of Human Drama was a bit of a surprise, but it's no surprise that his muse hadn't left him and that he would want to continue on. Sound of the Blue Heart's debut album, not unexpectedly, leads on very clearly from Indovina's past work, being a passionate, moody collection of elegant rock songs that lean gothically at points but never stereotypically so. Indovina's singing voice is in ways the big difference; it's still him, but he generally keeps to a low-key, reflective tone throughout the album, his high-volume performances now long behind him. That said, the whole album is similarly understated but far from sleepy, letting sharp subtlety in lyrics and performances be the key, including more energetic numbers like the title track. Even at the album's flat-out loudest, as on the chorus of "Mad, Mad World" or the cinematic sweep of "River of Love," the feeling is much more of the classic rock of Indovina's youth than post-punk doom. It's a natural progression from the later days of Human Drama, drawing more on the wider roots that Indovina has never hidden to good effect ("I Cannot Look Away," meanwhile, goes even further back to cabaret roots, providing his own spin on the Dresden Dolls/Voltaire aesthetic). Susanna Lowery's backing vocals often add a classically soul/R&B touch to the arrangements as well, further helping the band make its own distinct mark. One common touch from the past is a pleasure to see again: Indovina's inclusion of an unexpected but well-handled cover song, in this case ELO's 1977 number "Can't Get It Out of My Head." Indovina's easygoing delivery wisely doesn't try to clone Jeff Lynne's, and the overall performance is a sweet little treat.

Beauty?..., Sound of the Blue Heart
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