Paula Cole

Decca Music Group, 2010

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


All most people know about Paula Cole, if they know anything at all, is that damn cowboys song – that and she sang the theme song to Dawson’s Creek.

This is a darn shame.

Cole has, in the time since her brief foray into chart success and Grammy relevance, become a revelatory and personal songwriter and musician; her life, her marriage, her child, and her divorce have been documented in almost painfully naked songs. Her fifth album, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Ithaca, is very much the heart of this process; with its title reminiscent of finally coming home after a long journey, it reflects a woman who has come a long, difficult road and still has far to go.

There are places where Ithaca is hard to listen to, not because of the quality, but because of the anger simmering just under the surface of the music. “Waiting On A Miracle” is a defiant send-off for an unfaithful husband, while “Music In Me” throws Cole’s newly-found independence and faith in the face of a rough childhood and rougher adulthood. But throughout, Cole’s elegant, supple voice – with an amazingly dynamic range – emotes, performs, and drags you in.

That’s not to say there aren’t some lighter and gentler moments. “Come On Inside” is an intimate look at the beginnings of a relationship, and “Sex” is…well…just that. Use your imagination (in a good way). If you ever wanted to hear Paula Cole channeling Barry White, this is your chance, and it works.

There are a few miscues: while “P.R.E.N.U.P.” tries to be a sassy, funny look at divorce, it never quite hits its stride, and “Violet Eyes” is suffers from Cole mumbling rather than her normal pristine delivery. On the whole, however, I recommend Ithaca strongly. While Cole has had difficulty finding mainstream success since her high-water year of 1997, she has grown up both as a musician and a person, and her charting of the journey is definitely worth a listen.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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