Loren West long ago perfected the art of translating deep personal truths into haunting, or gritty, or just plain rocking songs. Wicked Heart, his fourth solo CD, takes this art one giant step further. The theme of this CD is love and temptation - the lure of desire and the pull of true love (which are sometimes aligned and sometimes in tension); and far more than in any previous album, in Wicked Heart he consistently manages to spin the personal out into the universal. Though the theme is consistent, the subjects and styles of the songs are extremely varied. Wolverine is a catchy, southern fried stomp that is just a little kinky with the off-chorus single word "suffer" leading into a powerful guitar solo. Insect King is complex and lyrically sophisticated, full of allusions to all kinds of ugly insects with lines like "wants to shed his skin and leave his eggs behind" (cockroach) and "climbing through your ears and into your head, oh no" (earwig). The 12 string steel guitar creates a strangely intricate and silvery lace that works in delightful counterpoint to the essential toughness of the song. Taste of Desire uses that same silvery 12 string to very different effect with a dynamic hook and the clever chorus "Desire, are you the master of / Desire, move a little faster, Love". In Ms. Orleans the blues definitely comes out to play; a strangely dark tale of an association with a mysterious stranger from first meeting to final separation. Tree of Life slides over into a kind of melancholy - a vision of life connected "from first word to final rites" but one that focuses most strongly on the fall and winter. There is no spring in this song, only the tree itself "roots entwined, buried in the ground, stretch their branches to the sky". Make no mistake, this is old fashioned rock and roll - naturally with a contemporary twist - strongly influenced by the blues and just a soupcon of SF acid rock. The songs are well made, solidly built, and musically chock full of excellent full bodied guitar, well plucked 12 string, and blazing solos. Loren uses a 65 Stat, Gibson ES335, 12 string Rickenbacker, and a Washburn 12 string acoustic. As always, he plays all the instruments himself, both lead and backing. His pleasing baritone leads the listener effortlessly through the vocals and harmonies, and ranges from a gentle croon to a full throated howl. - Denya Cascio, January 10, 2010.