Nature of My Wrongs (Cop a Feeling Records)

Heidi Howe & the Back Seat Drivers

By Paul Moffett

Okay, let's make this clear right now - Heidi Howe puts her passion right out front on this CD - and elsewhere, as far as I can tell. Her e-mail address is HeidiH69@hotmail.com. You can see the name of her record company above. The lyrics of her songs are full of innuendoes and outright sexual references, without being vulgar. Unsatisfied passion has long been a splendid source of emotions suitable for rendering into song lyrics, of course, and Heidi renders for all she's worth on ditties like "Your Heart Ain't Half As Good As Your Kiss" and "Lyle Lovett Inside."

So why make a point of this? If Heidi were Howard or Harry, nobody would say a thing about lusty lyrics. It's only when a woman does it that eyebrows elevate.

I'm here to tell you that IT DOESN'T MATTER - this singer/songwriter is the real deal, regardless of the heat quotient of her songs, which is high. Howe also possesses a 'large' voice, particularly with respect to her diminutive size, and uses it to her advantage throughout the CD.

On the intro tune, "I Hate Old Photographs," she sets her personal parameters, though: "I used to be so passionate . . .Drove myself to trouble . . . I was so driven/Hell, make mine a double," but nonetheless understands "there's no such thing as a perfect man."

"You Can't Hurt Me" details the behavior woman dislike in their men: lying, cheating, not calling, etc. but vows that "you can't hurt me." Under other circumstances, it might be called "anthemic."

"King of the Vinyl," Howe's tune about Gene King's record shop on Jefferson Street, is a straight-forward "remembrance" song that nevertheless has a very '90s message in its chorus: "If you don't run the rat race, you cannot be beat." Howe's CD tray card has a photo of her in front of the set-to-be renovated storefront King's Records once occupied, and, unlike Rosanne Cash's famous CD cover shot of her in front of the store, Howe actually stood in front of the store. (Cash's images was digitally inserted into an old photograph of the storefront.)

"Lyle Lovett Inside," Howe's lament about an attractive lover who hasn't got a soul equivalent to the Texas songwriter of the title, has been getting regular airplay on WFPK. The tune is crowded with good lines, including this gem: "I can't control my libido/seeing you in that Speedo/and it feels good knowing girls wish they were me."

The "I Love You, Good-bye" sentiment of "Your Heart Ain't Half As Good As Your Kiss" is built over the chord changes - and the spirit - of the Steve Goodman-penned tune, "You Don't Have to Call Me Darling." Bill Ede would call it the "folk process."

"I Wanna Be A Punk Rocker" is a hoot, echoing several musical styles of the last half of the 20th Century, including the girl-pop songs of the late Fifties and, of course, the snarly, fast guitar of punk rock, backing up what is essential yet another bit of relationship wishing: she wants to be a punk rocker so that her name will be a tattoo on of the object of her desire.

Howe's twang will not doubt slot her into the "neo-mountain music" genre shared by Freakwater and Gillian Welch, but she'll likely outgrow that label soon enough, probably about the time that some major label picks her up. If you want to secure those "I was into her stuff first" rights, better buy her CD now. It's available at the usual record stores in town.

Nature of My Wrongs was produced by Peter Rhee and Heidi Howe, recorded at Jeff Carpenter's Al Fresco Place and features several members of what has becoming the "A-list" of triple-A musicians in Louisville: Tim Krekel, guitar; Bryan Hurst, guitar; Peter Rhee, violin and Jim Baugher, bass and Cary Shields, drums.