Sound Wheel

Alison Mosshart

Third Man Records, 2020

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Alison Mosshart is a woman with many talents. Although she currently fronts the rock outfit The Kills, she also plays in the blues rock group Dead Weather. Some fans will remember her best from her time with the punk rock stars Discount, who made quite a name for themselves in the late '90s.

Also an artist and author, Mosshart’s first spoken word album Sound Wheel my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 and serves as a companion to recent book, Car Ma, but the veteran musician can't help but sneak plenty of varied sounds into this 47 track record.

“Intro – Talk Talk Talk” starts the listen and sets the pace with a distant guitar riff alongside Mosshart's captivating voice that immediately brings us one poetic story after another.

Most move quickly – under a minute – but longer ones like “Last Pack Of Holy Smokes” takes warranted shots at Donald Trump, while “Salt Lake City Drag” makes an impression in 30 seconds with background ambience that sounds like a voice coming over the AM dial during a long drive through the Midwest country.

Elsewhere, it's just Mosshart's voice on the eloquent and descriptive “Sonic States Of America,” where she makes keen, insightful observations, and “Louisiana” recruits passionate singing behind Mosshart's thoughtful prose. “High Performance,” one of the album's best, then uses calm guitar and her versatile pipes on the soulful delivery.

Deeper into the effort, “Summertime” is a biting, forthright, almost diatribe-like dip into darker themes, and “The Electric Sads” is actually is a phone conversation with voice manipulation. “Vroom Chicka Vroom” finishes the listen in gospel territory, where group vocals shine in the a cappella environment.

This one's a hell of a journey that's largely about cars, rock 'n' roll, and love, with the underlying story being about musicians and their undying affection for life on the road. Of course, it comes from significant first-hand experience, and even if you're like me and prefer spoken word in an EP format, you won't have a hard time finding yourself hitting repeat on Mosshart's artistic brand of beat poetry.

Rating: B

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