Linda Imperial’s EP release Heart Rock wears that organ on its sleeve. Imperial serves notice that she is letting her guard down with the first track “I Found Me”. Her unreserved willingness to bare her emotions raw for listeners comes across during this song as disarmingly autobiographical yet never obscure. Bringing harmonica into the mix bolsters its blues credentials but Imperial plays the vocal in such a way it keeps its feet in both the retro and rock elements. She is fully committed to the performance.
“You’re a Fake” is the most forceful piece of writing included on Heart Rock. The understated venom she builds into the vocal phrasing underlines the song’s blanket denunciation of its subject. The musicians spike the pace a little and the arrangement has added density, but it remains fleet-footed from first note to last. It will not be apparent by this point, but some listeners will struggle with the lack of variety Imperial seizes upon with this EP. The musical arrangements are similar. If this is a drawback for some listeners, it is unlikely to be one big enough to sour them on Heart Rock.
The clear winner for me on this EP is “My Heart Rocks”. This is as complete of a personal musical and lyrical statement Linda Imperial makes on Heart Rock. You can tell she feels the same way as she funnels every bit of her passion and focus into breathing fire for listeners and the band feeds off that with an inspired outing of their own. This is a group of musicians who have mastered the art of restrained eloquence. Despite this being a solo effort, Imperial sings like a vocalist working as part of a unit rather than leading the way.
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One of the EP’s best moments comes with her ode to making it work long term with someone entitled “Just Right”. Imperial has partnered in music and life with husband David Freiberg for three decades and she celebrates their union in a song that’s full of life without ever laboring with tired clichés. She’s chosen this cut as one of the album’s singles and released a lyric music video befitting the song. Her panache and obvious sincerity make the track an even greater standout. It’s romantic while still providing a realistic adult listening experience; it’s appealing while still packing genuine musical substance.
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