Dana Fuchs is a singer-songwriter who came to the attention of a lot of fans when she played Janis Joplin in the off-Broadway musical Love, Janis. You don’t have to listen to much of her music to know that she was the perfect selection to play Joplin. She has a raspy voice that is tailor-made for soulful rock and roll and blues. In addition to writing and performing her own songs, she showed she can handle classics like “Helter Skelter”, which she sang for the Across the Universe soundtrack.
Fuchs’s previous album Love Lives On is a soul record whose sound is a tip of the cap to Memphis soul while the lyrics explore her family’s struggles with addiction and mental illness. Her new album Borrowed Time is more or a rock album with some elements of soul and blues. Of the new album, she said, “This is my first time telling so many other people’s stories. Over the past two years, most people have realized there is no going back to normal. I went back to school and had a baby during the pandemic, so I hope I’m coming from a greater place of wisdom and empathy when I create music now. It was time to get out of myself and deliver songs from another person’s viewpoint. We’re all on this planet together, after all, living on borrowed time.”
Right at the beginning, Fuchs shows that she can belt out a rock song. The album opens with “Double Down on Wrong”, an uptempo rocker. After a muted introduction, the sound explodes with a beat that is sure to get your toes tapping and a guitar part that is likely to have you pumping your fist. Add her strong vocals and you have a song that can easily fill a large arena. “Not Another Second on You” is another song that wouldn’t seem out of place in an arena. This one has a sort of Rolling Stones vibe, especially in the guitar.
While she is adept at rocking out (you might even say it comes naturally with her powerhouse vocals), she is also pretty good at songs that are stripped down.”Lonely Lie” features only vocals, acoustic guitar, and harmonica. This is a heartfelt song where you can feel the regret in the lyrics. It is particularly strong when she sings, “Were you finding a reason while I was finding a way to keep on pretending to be not too tired of trying, not to o tired to say we’re just not what both of us needs.” “Call My Name” is another song whose melody is toned down. As you listen to the vocals over the subdued melody, you realize that there is at least as much power when she sings a song like this as when she belts out notes in an uptempo rock song.
With her voice and her ability to create stories with her lyrics, it’s hard to imagine Fuchs as anything other than a singer. And she’s a versatile one at that, one who could be just as successful singing rock, soul, or even singer-songwriter songs that are perfect for the local coffeehouse. Borrowed Time allows her to shine in whatever style she chooses for a song.