Dana Fuchs – Bliss Avenue (RUF Records)

DanaFuchsBlissIf you’re good enough as a female singer then you just MIGHT get compared to the greats.  I’m talking about the likes of Joplin and Etta James of course.  What though if you were compared to these music Icons three discs ago and now you are a whole lot better than you were back then?  Could it possibly reach a point where someone is as good as these legends? 


“A collection of songs based on the human condition of suffering… as we all struggle to find peace… and our own little slice of happiness” Dana Fuchs on ‘Bliss Avenue’


‘Bliss Avenue’ is as varied style wise as it is lyrically and emotionally.  It echoes some of the best of 70’s Pop/Rock music.  The soul of Mott the Hoople lives on in ‘How did things turn out this way’, Marc Bolan could have written ‘Handful too many’ with its breezy bass riff, and if Springsteen was female he’d have been more than happy to pen ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’.  This disc has so much of the essence of what made popular music great in the 70’s about it without ever sounding like a pastiche, which is hardly surprising:  “If there’s one line that sounds thrown away or dialled in, it has to be redone” said Dana during the recording sessions for this CD. 



That care for the end product shown in the singing is also very evident in the lyrics, as on the glorious ‘put down’ line “Thinking about you – I got nothing on my mind.’.  Some of these numbers got a workout live when Dana played the Harmonie last October and I particularly remember ‘Rodents in the Attic’ from then with it’s driving rhythm and manic lyrics: “A tiny claw keeps scratching in my brain” the songs main character announces: “I’ve got a bucket by the bedside, to catch the leaking rain”.  Would you want a date with the psychotic character on this one?

Dana with Co-Producer & under-rated  guitarist Jon Diamond

Dana with Co-Producer & under-rated guitarist Jon Diamond


Dana’s vocal style is always so emotionally charged that it’s difficult to know when she’s creating or actually re-living real experiences with her lyrics.  A definite example of the latter is ‘So Hard to Move’ that recalls her last days spent with dying brother Don.  The helplessness of knowing someone will be gone soon and the bitter knowledge that all the love in the World can’t change that stark fact. Emotionally it’s up there with the still officially unreleased ‘Moment Away’ with it’s 9/11 theme for touching a raw nerve in the soul of the listener and it’s the bottom line of what this disc is all about:  We all live in search of, as Dana put it, our own ‘slice of happiness’ while the World tries everything it can to hide not just the slice but the whole damn cake. 


If you’ve ever been to one of Dana Fuchs’s concerts then you will know that they are a celebration of LIFE and so it is, despite the sad lives that play out from many of the songs on ‘Bliss Avenue’.  The disc is filled with sad souls, tormented souls and unsatisfied souls – but none of them have given up on searching for that slice of happiness.  Neither should you – With it’s catchy songs and razor sharp lyrics, ‘Bliss Avenue‘ is  a milestone release from one of the best female vocalists of this or any other time in Rock history. 


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