Ace Of Wands – Desiring LP

Ace Of Wands
Desiring LP
(Fortune Stellar Records)
It’s hard to articulate how cool this is and how much this statement means but, from moment one of listening to Ace Of Wands’ new album, there is a direct artistic and creative line which connects Ace Of Wands to Heart. Of course, making comparisons between other artists and the work of Ann and Nancy Wilson is easy enough to do on a completely superficial level, but delving deeper beneath the surface of the sisters’ music and really looking deeply at the creative designs in their music is much more difficult and, on Desiring, that’s where and how the comparisons become far more vivid as well as exponentially more valid. As has been the case in Heart’s best work, there is a beauty in Desiring which simply cannot be taught; it is just known and understood even upon first listen.

When needle catches groove and “Desiring You” opens the A-side of Desiring, listeners are immediately confronted by the “in tandem” vocal attack of Lee Rose and Anna Mernieks as well as a really solid and luxurious guitar performance. With the help of lines like, “Convince me that I’m not okay/ Without you/ I am in the way of your light/ Shine on me,” Ace Of Wands hooks, holds and grips listeners tightly right away; the guitars sound good, but the vocals are what elevate the song to a completely different level and listeners will realize that when they find themselves straining to discern what’s being said during the song’s bridge (the chant, “Feel the Earth quake/ Gaslight double-take/ Cruel word keepsake/ Ran from the rattlesnake” feels simultaneously fragile and robust) about a third of the way into the song. That’s when the fact that listeners are hooked will really hit them – but they’ll be thrilled that it didn’t take very long and will be waiting anxiously for what might be coming next when the song closes. “Back Bird, Black Heart” follows in a similar but more romantic vein which will sustain listeners, but the much moodier “Fight, Fly, Submit, Collapse, Cry” marks a real highlight for the side. While the group had already established a moodiness earlier in the side’s play, it’s on “Fight, Fly, Submit, Collapse, Cry” that Ace Of Wands achieves a slightly darker hue with truly haunted vocals and hobbled rhythms that are undeniably affecting.

After “Fight, Fly, Submit, Collapse, Cry” establishes the depths to which Ace Of Wands is capable of diving, “Reservoir Of Loss” and “Deep Heat” remain on that level to close out the side. In both cases, the band pulls a little closer into the more dire quadrants that Lillith Fair used to reach at one time as sympathetic vocals bounce between sounding worried and empowered and squalls of feedback leave no doubt that everything is not alright. Even so, listeners will feel compelled to follow the side’s running to its completion and onto its B-side because the dramatic tones both command and deserve relief. Throughout the A-side of Desiring, Ace Of Wands have made the most out of some very fraught sounds – so of course listeners will want to see that there is at least some resolution.

To that end, “Thin Air” – with its lyrics about, “hot breath lingering” contrasted against chilly, natural images – does escape the darkness ably. The designs and lyrical forms which characterized the A-side of Desiring endure on the B- early, but it shifts ever-so-slightly to be less dim while remaining cold. The transition to warmer and more active tones appears on the aptly-entitled “I Taste Blood” as well as on “You Move, I Move” – which both play far better as more active sonics push into a more gothic and rockist direction. Particularly on “I Taste Blood,” Ace Of Wands dives heartily into the darkest waters on the album, and the whisper-to-a-scream vocals put a fresh, energetic push on the proceedings which endure through the remainder of the side. Granted, not every turn through the side’s running is perfect (“High Priestess” finds a yawn-inducing middle ground between songwriterly delicacy and flat black-toned darkness), but “Deceit And Loss” and the untitled closing cut (it can’t really be called a “secret song” on vinyl, because it’s very easy to see the grooves) do close out the album with some excellent and fairly bombastic dark tones which utilize strings and a tremendous amount of open space to leave listeners with a chilly sensation draped across their shoulders.

After the B-side of the album closes and listeners have the chance to get the sensation that the closing moments of the B-side left in them out, some may find themselves reaching to flip the record over and begin the journey that they just took over again. The truth is that, yes, the Desiring LP is not lacking in reasons to feel put off by the music but, on the right day (when you’re already feeling dark around the eyes and cold around the heart), Desiring can feel cathartic. It might not be for everyone and, even for those who are hooked by the darkened chill, it might not be for every day – but Desiring can be the sound that soothes a wounded heart or salves a tested soul. [Bill Adams]


Ace Of Wands’ Desiring LP is out now. Buy it here, directly from the band.

Bill Adams is Editor-in-Chief of Ground Control Mag.