The Good: Good songs, Excellent voice
The Bad: Almost all songs here can be found on studio albums. Uninspired mix.
The Basics: If you're a Heather Nova fan, you'll probably enjoy it, if you're not, don't let this be your first experience with her work.
In at least one interview, Heather Nova has said that she puts out live albums every couple of years because she CAN sing. There's no denying the truth of that with Blow. She clearly has the ability to sing and her live albums show that quite well.
All nine songs on the album illustrate Nova's amazing voice and well-crafted lyrics. Blow contains live versions of songs from her studio albums Glowstars ("Mother Tongue," "Talking To Strangers," "Shaking The Doll," and "Frontier") and Oyster (all others save . . .) with only a single new song "Blessed." "Blessed" is a nice song, but there's a reason it only appears on this album; it's not her best single. It's a little sentimental and a bit more obvious than her usual works. It lacks the imagery that makes other tracks on this album, such as "Doubled Up" and "Mother Tongue" succeed.
Blow is adequate musically and its fault lies in its lack of originality. Listening to her studio albums, we, the listener, discover an amazing voice and wonderful personality through her lyrics. Outside of "Blessed," which is fine, but not superlative, the album is largely a case of "been there, done that."
Blow is not even putting Heather Nova's best foot forward, however. Her choice of songs on this album were not the best. That is, she did not take the best songs from those two albums and use them (whereas her live album Wonderlust showcases more of her better side than this). That Heather would take songs from Glowstars and not give live versions of "Spirit In You," "Shell" or "Glowstars," is extremely disappointing. Her live interpretations of "Lightyears" and "Doubled Up" are equally a rival for their originals, but "Shaking The Doll," for example, becomes more garbled than its original studio version. And "Blessed" isn't one of Heather's best songs - it does not linger with the listener the way, say, "Truth And Bone" does.
The strongest link is "Doubled Up" the weakest track is probably "Maybe An Angel," which wasn't her greatest song, but she seems to do more live renditions of than her others. This is not a bad album. In fact, it's better than most music out there. However, after setting such magnificent standards with her albums These Walls and Glowstars (which precede this album and Oyster), Blow is a bit of a let down.
For other Heather Nova album reviews, please be sure to check out:
The Jasmine Flower
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© 2011, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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