When someone takes such a lengthy break between records, there are great expectations for the next project because they've had adequate time to find suitable material. Thankfully, there's no letdown with Almost Time. This is a vintage rock 'n roll record packed with top notch songs. As expected, Ellen's powerful vocals are front and centre with her familiar vibrato leading the way. And on that note, I've never really noticed how much Chrissie Hynde sounds like Ellen, but that comparison leaped out at me on this record.
I'm getting a real NY feel from this disc although I don't know how to qualify that. It's just sort of gives a feeling that's like a sweaty club on a Saturday night in the heart of the big apple. Ellen has joined forces with a songwriter by the name of Paul Foglino and aside from a couple of songs that Ellen co-wrote (and a Randy Newman cover), he penned the rest of the record.
The record opens with possibly the best song in the set, "If You Can't Be Good". After a jangly Byrds-like guitar intro, Ellen confidently establishes her position in the upper tier of rock and roll singers. "Nobody Ever Died From Crying" shucks and jives like a car with bad shocks, earning a spot in the top songs category.
The excellent chorus of "All of My Suffering" makes this one highly listenable and the subtle blues of "Guilty", the Randy Newman cover really allows you to concentrate on her amazing voice.
"If You Had a Heart" is one of the many high points on this disc. The buoyant guitar sets you up and Ellen's vocals win you over, especially on the song's terrific chorus. This is one of my favorites for sure! The smoldering, slinky blues of "Madness" is steaming indeed while "Worried Woman" sounds like it could fit into the Rocky Horror soundtrack perfectly.
There are subtle shades of country in "Any Fool Can See" and, again, the chorus is what makes this special. The hip-swirling bar-room vibe of "I've Been Around the Block and Back" adds a sexy shot of personality to the set, while the Del Shannon-ish "I Can See" gets things back on the rock 'n roll track. Ellen confidently marks her territory with "Carry On (Party's Over)" and then gently reassures us that "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" with the record's final track.
With a record of this quality and Ellen's voice remaining so remarkable, you want to cry, "What took you so long?" However, appreciative of the fact that we have new material to play to death, I think the more appropriate statement should simply be, "Welcome back, Ellen. It's About Time!"
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Ellen Foley - About Time