Picks and Pans Review: House of Hope
A then unheralded singer, Childs made an exciting, exotic debut with her 1988 album, Union, which was full of such tropical pop splendors as "Stop Your Fussin" and "Don't Walk Away."
Now comes this disappointingly dull follow-up, a record nearly bereft of the colorful melodies and joint-jolting rhythms that distinguished Childs's first outing. House of Hope is built around leaden-toned manifestos about dysfunctional families, among them "Daddy's Song," about incest, and "I've Got to Go Now," the story of a woman in a physically abusive relationship finding the courage to leave.
Musically, little is of interest on this droopy, attenuated collection except the delicate, lullabylike "Heaven's Gate," the ineffably sad "Three Days" and "The Dead Are Dancing," which resembles Sting's version of a Hungarian dirge. And all of those tracks are pretty dour.
Childs still has that thrilling throat, a smoldering combination of Phoebe Snow and Marianne Faithfull that sounds like the very voice of experience. But there's nothing here to showcase it. On the contrary, a number of unsuitable songs—"Next to You" and "Put This Fire Out," for instance—take her well outside her range and reduce her to puling like an alley cat. For a woman of Childs's talent, that truly is a travesty. (A&M)