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Review: Borrowed Heaven
by Noelle De Guzman

Even though I'd only heard "Summer Sunshine" over the radio, I thought it would be disgraceful for the owner of a Corrs website not to have her own copy of a Corrs album as soon as it came out. So, I snapped up the last copy of Borrowed Heaven from one record store that had placed the album at number one on their hit charts.

In the four years since The Best of the Corrs, I had wondered where the Corrs wanted to take themselves musically. In Blue had departed (according to some fans) from the sound and feel of their maiden album Forgiven Not Forgotten, but In Blue had somehow failed to crack the tough U.S. market. Would Borrowed Heaven mark a return to their initial style?

That aside, I wouldn't expect the siblings Corr not to have grown musically, especially with all they've been through. Their mother Jean Corr died shortly before In Blue was recorded. Sharon and Caroline both got married, and Caroline is now expecting her second child. I would expect these things to have an impact on the content of their songs.

Borrowed Heaven has a fresh and light sound that shows little of the slick programmed beats and synthesizers that marked In Blue. I was relieved to be able to hear Caroline's drum beat contribution once more. However, the musical arrangement and instrumentation of Borrowed Heaven is more spare than that of Forgiven Not Forgotten or even Talk on Corners. It's like Corrs Light, or Diet Corrs.

As always, the Corrs' lyrical wit shines. Sadness over their mother's death doesn't fall into the "woe-is-me" trap on songs like "Angel" and "Goodbye"--in fact, these songs are quite upbeat. "Long Night" takes the power-ballad route in talking about a breakup. "Humdrum" pokes fun at a relationship in much the same way "I Never Loved You Anyway" did, sans tongue-in-cheek bitterness. "Confidence for Quiet" sounds like something Andrea would say to her sisters, who've left the family fold: "you're all gone left me behind / is this freedom no one's calling." Love songs come in the form of popsy, radio-friendly "Summer Sunshine" and "Even If." The Corrs also play cheerleader and sing words of encouragement in "Hideaway" and "Baby Be Brave."

The sole instrumental track on the album, "Silver Strand" harks back to "Erin Shore," though less epic in scale. Sharon's violin carries the melody well, and the instrumentation is good because nothing gets drowned out. I was hoping, though, for something as exotic-sounding as "Paddy McCarthy."

The only song not written by the Corrs on this album is the Bono et. al.-penned "Time Enough for Tears," which sounds something out of the '50s lounge scene. In its order on the track listing, the song feels a little out of place. As a stand-alone song, though, "Time Enough for Tears" is saved by how Andrea sings it: breathy and wistful.

Each song is excellent on its own, but the arrangement of tracks leaves much to be desired. The forward momentum created by "Summer Sunshine" is broken by successive slow-tempo songs "Long Night," "Goodbye," and "Time Enough for Tears." That three-song block lumps together most of the songs that seem to be dedicated to Jean Corr, which to me drags down the whole mood of the album--even if it's been dedicated to her. "Humdrum," though excellent song it may be, can't drum up the tempo again, even if assisted by "Even If."

Courtesy of the shuffle button on my Discman, I enjoyed a different tracklisting, which helped me appreciate the songs better. "Time Enough for Tears" also sounds better when followed by "Silver Strand."
    Alternative Tracklisting
  1. Even If
  2. Angel
  3. Borrowed Heaven
  4. Humdrum
  5. Hideaway
  6. Summer Sunshine
  7. long Night
  8. Confidence for Quiet
  9. Time Enough for Tears
  10. Silver Strand
  11. Goodbye
  12. Baby Be Brave
Overall, the album is a great listen if you're looking for clever pop songs that don't sound too pop-ish, non-annoying "last song syndrome" tunes, a midday pick-me-up, or just good background music while you're doing something else. Even though to some hardcore fans Borrowed Heaven may not measure up to the ear candy that was Forgiven Not Forgotten, this album is still better than some others out there right now.

Copyright © 2004 Noelle De Guzman. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.