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Personnel: Holly Cole (vocals); Mark Kelso (vocals, drums, tambourine); Steve Tavaglione (soprano saxophone); Jon Hassell (trumpet); Kevin Breit (autoharp, acoustic & electric guitars, banjo, bazouki, loops); Aaron Davis (piano, Wurlitzer piano, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B-3 organ); Jim Cox (Wurlitzer piano, Hammond B-3 organ); Larry Klein (organ); David Piltch (guitar, mandolin, bass); Dean Parks (guitar, 6 string bass); Greg Leisz (electric & pedal steel guitars); George Koller (bass); Iki Levy (drums, programming, loops); Helik Hadar (drums, programming); Alex Brown, Mona Lisa Young (background vocals).
Recorded at McClear Pathe Studios, Toronto, Canada; House of Blues, Encino, California; Worstword Ho!, Los Angeles, California.
Song stylist Cole reaches into the catalogs of some of pop's finest composers on DARK DEAR HEART. The album opens with a technofied version of the Beatles classic 'I've Just Seen A Face' that's deconstructed enough to make Paul turn over his grave (oops, he's not dead). There are two cuts from the criminally underrated Mary Margaret O'Hara (including the engrossing title tune) as well as the Joni Mitchell evergreen 'River.' The Joni connection runs a bit deeper, as DARK DEAR HEART was produced by Mitchell's ex-husband/producer/bass player Larry Klein, whose work here is a bit more straightforward and pop-oriented than his collaborations with his ex. Throughout, there are moments of jazzy acoustic introspection contrasted by state-of-the-art Adult Contempo-pop.
Rolling Stone (11/27/97, p.111) - 3 Stars (out of 5) - '...sultry minimalism....it's Cole's vocals that define the album; avoiding both stiff reverence and kitsch, she consistently proves that delivering a lyric is as much a creative art as writing one.'
Entertainment Weekly (11/21/97, p.137) - 'Cole's fourth studio album reinvents the Canadian cabaret chanteuse as a thinking person's pop diva, integrating slick production while keeping the focus on her duskily expressive voice...' - Rating: B