UPDATE, 6/18, 4:30pm EDT: Stream Lita’s new album in full here!

I really admire Lita Ford. I think she’s hard working, confident, beautiful, and most importantly, talented. She’s made a name for herself through her musical ability, and I don’t believe for a second that her looks or her personal life had anything to do with her success/fame. As much as I like her, though, I’ve been rather ambivalent about her music. Don’t get me wrong, I think she has a hell of a voice and can shred on guitar but the songs themselves… other than a few here and there, I’ve never been a die hard fan. I know it may be difficult-to-downright impossible to separate the individual from the music, but I’ve done it my entire life with way more trying artists, and I say you can. So I was pretty neutral when I started listening to For’d new record, Living Like A Runaway. Now, as objectively as I can, I’d say it’s probably her best album to date.

“Branded” gets the offering off to a good start. It’s a solid, if somewhat forgettable, song. The slow bridge doesn’t do much for me, but the chorus is very catchy. It reminds me of Alice Cooper in his Trash/Hey Stoopid era. In fact, the whole album is shades of that sound, but with a harder, less-cheesy edge — as on “Hate,” when Ford gives a lower, dirtier vocal performance. (The spider web similes in the lyrics also help.)

Every song tries to sound different from the others, which doesn’t really work on most albums — but it does here. Instead of wholly switching genres from song to song, Ford just integrates aspects of those genres while maintaing the same steady Desmond Child-ness she has going for her (although he had nothing to do with this album). “The Mask,” for example, starts out sounding industrial, then smoothly transitions into the soprano-with-attitude thing that Lita does so well.  Later on the album, “Devil in My Head” borders on grunge before also playing to Ford’s vocal strengths. The Nikki Sixx-penned “A Song to Slit Your Wrists By” has the Motley Crue bassist’s fingerprints all over it; it sounds like newer-era Crue (not Sixx A.M., I should note) if Vince Neil could actually song.

But, clearly, it’s the title track that Lita wants us to focus on. Even the mix of the slow, melodic song favors the vocals — and, thus, the lyrics. It’s basically The Story of Lita Ford. Many might boast that their albums are “autobiographical,” but this one literally traces her life from when she was a Runaway to now. It’s very reflective, and I’m not sure if this is just a weird coincidence or not, but the intro is reminiscent of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”  It’s much more alive (no pun intended) and fun than their previous collaboration, “Falling In and Out of Love,” from 1988’s Lita.

“Relentless,” brings back the dirty fun and, “Mother,” is a slow ballad as anyone who is not Glenn Danzig would assume a song called, “Mother,” would be. Though I can see how one would argue his, “Mother,” is the Danzig version of a ballad. The rest of the songs follow the same pattern as the ones mentioned before  but another one worth pointing out is the Nikki Sixx penned, “A Song To Slit Your Wrists By.” It’s so obvious he had a part in writing it. It sounds like a newer era Motley Crue song (not Sixx: AM, I should note) that Vince Neil would’ve botched so he gave it to someone who can actually sing.

All in all, Living Like a Runaway is a catchy, heartfelt album that fans of Lita Ford will enjoy — and others will not take hearty offense to.

(3 1/2 out of 5 horns)



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