It is six years since local artist Angie Heaton released her last record. In the interim she has honed her talents and come up with a more confident and assertive effort that is endlessly enjoyable. She retains all of the uplifting, life-affirming joie de vivre that has made her such a crowd favorite. In addition, she indulges herself fully and never restricts her experimental urges, all to the benefit of the listener. Blending guitar pop and upbeat indie rock, the album is full of catchy riffs and lyrics, yet there is no hint of pretense or contrivance. Heaton never overproduces her sometimes minimalist arrangements, allowing her musical proficiency and love for performing to shine through. It endows each track with an inherent amicability that makes them instantly accessible.
She succeeds in defying critics’ tendencies to pigeonhole female solo artists by comparing them to more renowned peers; the inevitable result of her creating a musical canvas that transcends genre boundaries is that she proves herself every bit as accomplished as those to whom she is compared. For although there is a degree of validity to comparisons to PJ Harvey or Liz Phair, this lazily ignores the unique interpretation she offers. At certain points, her vocals are reminiscent of The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan in their soothing and seductive inflections. However, Heaton also maintains a prosody in her vocal lines that augments the sincerity of every word she utters. And her ability to manipulate her tone to match every type of song within an extensive musical repertoire ensures that she has a wide appeal beyond that of the typical local artist.
There are a few stand-out tracks, such as the heartbreakingly earnest “Moth vs. Flame,” but Let It Ride’s greatest strength is that it is solid throughout; even the less-inspired moments are considerably stronger than the majority of similar fare. On the strength of this release, one can only hope that it will not be another six years before her next.