Album Review

Cindy Bullens - Somewhere Between Heaven And Earth

Cindy Bullens - Somewhere Between Heaven And Earth

Cindy Bullens emerged in 1978 as something of a distaff Springsteen, fronting a rock band specializing in a dramatic, urban street mythos. Her muscular debut Desire Wire was a knockout, but its 1979 follow-up Steal The Night flagged noticeably, and Bullens pulled back to focus on songwriting and session work. She resurfaced with a tepid third solo disc on MCA in '89, then rebounded with the impressive Why Not? on her own Blue Lobster label in 1994. On March 23, 1996, Bullens and husband Dan Crewe experienced every parent's worst nightmare: They lost their 11-year-old daughter Jessie to cancer. Following a period of complete artistic paralysis, Bullens began working through her grief, writing and recording (with the aid of a staggering list of luminaries) a powerful album exploring of the gamut of extreme responses engendered by the death of a loved one. Perhaps not since Neil Young's landmark Tonight's The Night has an artist so successfully married rock's dynamic power to wide-open emotional substance. With a voice that recalls the unvarnished tone and clarity of Carole King, Bullens delivers her taut, eloquent lyrics over a swirling, majestic rock sound that illuminates the bare expressions of rage, frustration, despair, crises of faith, depression and finally affirmation, miraculously keeping pace with the energy level without overwhelming it. Lucinda Williams, Bonnie Raitt, Rodney Crowell, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Bill Lloyd, Bryan Adams, and Jessie's sister Reid Bullens-Crewe all lend their voices to the memorable proceedings. By the time Somewhere Between Heaven And Earth closes with the inspirational, cathartic pledge to be "Better Than I've Ever Been", Bullens has not only created an artistic triumph, but memorialized her child with an important coping tool for all of us.