Amy Rude and Heartbeast: Can You Hear Me Crying Through the Walls? (Self-Released) 

Tucson-via-Portland, Ore.'s Amy Rude and her killer band, Heartbeast, are back with her most ambitious and fully realized CD to date.

Can You Hear ... is a significant step forward for Rude in almost all respects: songwriting, vocals, arrangements, accompaniment and overall artistic maturity. Her previous records were superb, but she notably takes it up a level here. Credit must also be given to Jim Waters from Waterworks Studio, where this was recorded; Waters helped bring out the best in the band, and adds the kind of small flourishes for which a seasoned producer like himself is known.

Mixing up her own emotionally charged home brew of rock, country, folk and Tucson psychedelia, Rude gives us a lot to chew on. She's long been one of our most brutally honest and soul-baring songwriters, and several of these songs are among her best to date. The irresistible "Black Hands" starts out as folk funk before picking up speed into a full-tilt rocker. Sparks fly like mad off of "Cracked Atlas Blues," a thorny, twitchy shuffle. "Stump of Love" is a buoyant country rocker, and the title song is an elegant, mournful number.

Rude's voice is clear, soulful and full of character and resonance. Her band includes local ringers Naim Amor on guitar, Vicki Brown on violin, Chris Black and Thøger Lund on bass, and Arthur Vint on drums.

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