Sunday, June 11, 2006

Cindy Bullens / Somewhere Between Heaven & Earth

The reason for this review now is that Cindy just released a new album called "Dream 29". I've got it and have actually been holding off on playing it for the first time until I get this done.....

I've been a fan of Cindy Bullens since the '70's when I picked up a copy of her first album "Desire Wire". (Actually, I probably should write a review of that great album too....) It took one play of "Desire Wire" to be sold on Cindy and her talent. this girl was / still is, the real deal. She sings, plays guitar and writes all the tunes she sings. I played "Desire Wire" frequently and when album #2 "Steal The Night" came out it was a no brainer to pick up a copy. Unfortunately, it was overproduced, very "popish" and had nothing even close to the strength of "Desire Wire" on it.....pretty much a disappointment for me. I never saw another album come out in my travels and figured that another good one had been produced / managed right out of a career.

Now, jump ahead to 1999. I had played Cindy's albums for my wife so she knew who she was and one day she came home from the store with an album called "Somewhere Between Heaven & Earth". Man, the last time I had seen a Cindy Bullens recording nobody had even heard of CD's yet and now here was this one.....20 years after the last one that I knew of.......I put it in the machine and over the next 50 minutes I went thru a variety of emotions.....all of them powerful and positive. Cindy Bullens was back from where ever she'd been and just like fine wine, had gotten better with time.

The theme for this album is a less than happy one although ultimately it's a very positive one. It centers around the cancer battle and ultimate death of Cindy's 2nd daughter, 11 year old Jessie. Although these songs are about something very painful to go thru and emotional to the point of tears at times, the overall impact of the words and music here is very positive. This is an album of healing, an album for other people who've been thru something similar who need to know that it's ok to grieve and it's ok to go on with your life.........I still play this album frequently and it's been out 6 years now. The power of it cannot be understated.

Thanks to the internet I wrote to Cindy several years ago, on Chistmas eve no less, to share our own story of loss and the next morning I had a reply from Cindy that I thought was very cool. I hadn't really thought about getting a response, just wanted to share our story. I wish I still had those emails but they got lost during an upgrade to a new computer. Then just a couple years ago me and my wife got to meet Cindy at a concert in South Bend In. where she was the warm-up act for Dan Fogelberg. She did a short set and even mentioned when she did Boxing with God, that it was for some friends up in Michigan. After the show we got to talk with her for a couple minutes and had her sign the booklet from the CD.

I don't profess to know what Cindy was thinking when she wrote these songs, but Indulge me a couple lines from each one and what they say to me.......

In Better Hands.....What hands could be better for a child than that of it's mother? Only one that I can think of and it requires quite a leap of faith to believe. What mother would willingly give up her child to someone else's care and protection, no matter what they're qualifications? "The sky is in your shoes tonight, you can finally fly. All I can do is trust that you're all right, and I left you, in better hands, in better hands"
The Lights Of Paris.....a comparision between the beauty of manmade art and the higher beauty of a human soul. "I stood in a room full of Vincent VanGogh's, I could not tear myself away, struck by light and color, pure genius on display, but even the art of Paris, somewhere has to have a price, unlike the fire in your hair of red, and the passion in your eyes".
I Gotta Believe In Something.....coming to grips with the cold hard facts that life sometimes deals us a hand we don't want to play and finding a way to deal with the things that can't be changed. "Some days just breathing is all that I can do, and I curse the disappearance of everything I knew, but there's only so many tears I can cry, I need to point my soul to the light so I can see, and I gotta believe in something, that there's just plain nothing don't seem right to me".
Somewhere Between Heaven & Earth.....A time of confusion and fustration. Purgatory on earth. Knowing that there is life on the other side, but being stuck in the great expanse of wasteland in the middle "but there's no rhythm in the rain, there's no magic in the moon, there's no power in this pain, till somewhere between heaven and earth, I can find you again".
A Thousand Shades Of Grey.....A period of not so much acceptance of things that can't be changed as the resignation that there's no way to go back. Returning to the better days of before is not an option. These are days that blend together and that are endured, not lived. "Well you never kept your distance, you always told the truth, if there are such things as angels, then you're my living proof, but now you live on higher ground, and I have lost my way, well I'd settle for your shadow, for my thousand shades of grey"
Water On The Moon.....The desire to believe that if one holds onto a dream tight enough that it might yet become reality. "If they find water on the moon, if they discover life on Mars, does that mean you'll be home soon, can I hold you in my arms, I want to believe in miracles".
Boxing With God.....Life begins to return to the soul and the realization sets in that although I may not win, I won't just stand here and not fight back. Not being complacent means one's heart is strong and ready to go forward, no matter the outcome. "I'm boxing with God, I'm showing all my stuff, It's probably not enough, but I'm a fighter. I'm boxing with God, I'm going round for round, I might be going down, but I'm not a quitter".
The End Of Wishful Thinking.....Healing of the soul takes time and acceptance of things that we don't want to accept is a sign that the healing is taking place. "And it's too early in the morning, and too late in my life, to write a different story, to hope for different lines, and I guess it's finally hit me, what forever really means, that no amount of dreaming, is gonna bring you back to me".
As Long As You Love (Scarlet Wings).....A certain kind of peace in knowing that there are places yet to go and that those who go ahead of us will be watching out for us while we're here and waiting for us when it's our time to arrive. "As long as you love, You will feel me in the sun, in the warming of the sun, I will be there".
Better Than I've Ever Been.....The final stage of the healing process...gathering strength from the struggles to get thru the adversity and the sorrow of loss and coming out the other side a whole person again with more facets to the personality than there were previously............"I laugh louder, cry harder, take less time to make up my mind, and I think smarter, go slower, I know what I want, and what I don't and I'll be better than I've ever been".

An excellent album in every way, great arrangements, vocals, lyrics and great backup from the musicians that make these extremely personal songs come alive. This album is as much a work of art as anything you'll find under the lights of Paris.



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