Hearts Are Wild is Debbie Bond’s sophomore solo album, but by no means is she a newcomer to the music scene. As a young woman, Bond lived internationally, but her music tastes remained true to the American blues scene of the 1960s. Growing up on guitar, Bond brought her talent back to the United States as an adult in 1979. Living in Alabama, Bond played most notably with Johnny Shines, and also with other blues greats such as Jerry Boogie McCain and Willie King. She founded the Alabama Blues Project in 1995 and released her first solo album, What Goes Around Comes Around, in 1998. Although her second album is now released more than a decade after her first solo effort, Bond remained a steadfast figure in the Alabama blues scene, continuing to tour and perform. Her dedication to the blues tradition is clear on Hearts Are Wild, which showcases her classic vocals, piano-driven accompaniment and a smattering of horns and harmonica.
On the whole, Hearts Are Wild is a pleasant listen. It is reminiscent of music from a different time, truly capturing the spirit of classic blues. This makes sense, given Bond’s background, and it’s done well here. Each track contains a strong piano part led by Bond’s vocals. Her voice is unique, sometimes smooth and throaty at other points, but at all times a positive lead. The horns provide a nice accent and most enjoyable on tracks like “Falling.”
If there is a complaint about Hearts Are Wild, it is that Bond edges too close to tradition. As previously mentioned, this music belongs to a different era. It’s done extremely well, but the pieces can be a little too one-note in terms of spirit.
That being said, there are still some very interesting and well-played tracks on this album. Bond’s faster pieces are as compelling as the slower ones, with “Dead Zone Blues” providing a nice lead-in to the rest of the album. Beginning with a catchy, syncopated piano and horn intro, this is the kind of song that draws in the listener. “Nothing But the Blues” maintains a similar feel and tone, with both songs coming to the forefront of the best of the album. Equally pleasant is “Falling,” which is a slow, swingy piece that has a nice moment on saxophone. Sax is making a comeback these days, and judging by the solo on this track, it’s easy to see why.
Hearts Are Wild is a solid album, especially for fans of true blues music. The primary deficit is that the style tends to be a little too uniform across the whole album. Bond is strong when she mixes things up, and that would be something to look for in the next album.
The Review: 7.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
-Dead Zone Blues
-Nothing But the Blues
The Big Hit
-Dead Zone Blues
Review by Sarah Richmond