Lita Ford: Living Like a Runaway

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Lita Ford: Living Like a Runaway
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Lita Ford: Living Like a Runaway
Hard Rock
SPV Records
June 19th, 2012
Release length: 42:10
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Lita Ford is one of the most recognizable females in Hard Rock to date. Originally a founding member of The Runaways, she eventually went off into her own career when they disbanded, and she hasn’t looked back since. This paved the way for some really memorable songs and albums throughout her career for a total of seven full-length releases, a live recording, and a handful of compilations. Her thirteenth offering, however, is perhaps the most personal of them all. Living Like a Runaway comes off more like a love letter to the children she left behind, and carries the anger and frustration felt from the divorce from former Nitro singer, Jim Gillette. But, does it take things a bit too far?

Living Like a Runaway carries a pretty clean production to it, and in some ways that can hurt the release. Overall, the guitars come through really strong with a typical eighties Rock style distortion with a deeper tone. This works to cover the often mentally and physically darker lyrical content throughout, going well with the stronger bass presence, giving it the heavy kick it needs. The cymbals are crystal clear with an empty sound to the snares, fitting the material well. The bass kicks, however, are a lot more dominating with their click that is often just too loud. The vocals are your typical cleaner performance, and Lita Ford fans will know exactly what to expect here. Her signature eighties Rock style does vary well between softer whispers, as well as some rougher areas to show off some of the frustration that went with the given topics.

While this really cries out to the memorable Hard Rock scene of yesterday, there are times that things will change up for the better, or the worst. On two tracks you find some Electronic elements come into play. “The Mask” takes a Jekyll and Hyde look at the former marriage, mixing the typical Rock sound with the additional electronic alterations. It works out well when utilized, which is in moderation to certain riffs with altered wispered or low harmonized speech to amp up the aggression in those spots, then shifts back to the traditional Rock sound throughout with a memorable chorus that packs a little extra heaviness to it. However, this is done again in “A Song to Slit Your Wrists By,” and it ends up just being absolute garbage. Clearly throwing back to an early Punk approach, the digital drums sound hollow, and the voice alterations are just wretched, throwing the pitch off horribly when used. Again, the chorus shakes all this off with a mildly catchy, but overall weak Hard Rock song you can just picture in a Hollywood feel good movie despite the lyrical content. There’s also “Living Like a Runaway,” easily the strongest offering of them all, which takes on a bit of a Folk Rock appoach that puts Lisa’s heart on display, summing up the troubles of the relationship (or at least what it seems to be recapping) and having to get away before it gets worse. The lighter chords in the main verses are easy to get lost in, especially with the softer clean singing that could bring a tear to your eye. The chorus is just as memorable for the same reason, but a lot richer and a little more upbeat and passionate.

But, aside those tracks, the rest is largely a solid look back at what made the eighties Rock scene so enjoyable, even to this day and age. “Branded” kicks things off with an aggressive song that captures the frustrations of the relationship, as well as a mild energy from the band that can really recharge the listener. The only gripes are that the bass kick being so loud here that it drowns everything out, especially during the main verses that are a little more open, as well as the vocals being a bit too stereotypical for Lita Ford in many spots. “Hate” is a completely different take on the aggression, moving at a much slower pace and focusing largely on the bass guitar with a strong groove that immediately hooks the listener. The additional layered vocals during the chorus makes it a lot stronger, and the simpler lyrics will instantly have you singing along after just one spin, but it’s the frustration in the other sections that are the most impressive. There’s also “Mother” which is basically a love letter to her children explaining what happened and why she left in music form. This feels a little too personal than what you might expect on an album, but that’s one of the reasons it ends up working. Again you can feel the emotion in the vocals, and the switch to an acoustic guitar really helps to get the point across.

With the exception of “A Song to Slit Your Wrists By,” this is a fantastic album. You can really feel the emotions that Lita Ford had poured into the lyrics, whether to vent about the divorce or to convey a message that otherwise may have never been heard. You get more of an inside look into her life than you may want, but there’s no denying that almost every song can be easily connected with, and is a quality representation of struggles that many people in today’s world suffer through. If you’re a Lita Ford fan, or even of Hard Rock in general, you are not going to be let down by Living Like a Runaway.

01. Branded – 3:54
02. Hate – 4:02
03. The Mask – 4:17
04. Living Like a Runaway – 4:55
05. Relentless – 3:55
06. Mother – 3:01
07. Devil in My Head – 5:32
08. Asylum – 4:42
09. Love 2 Hate U – 3:51
10. A Song to Slit Your Wrists By – 4:01
Overall Score: 9/10

Digital review copy of this release provided by SPV Records via Freeman Promotions.