Few artists channel pain as well as Courtney Love.
The suicide of husband Kurt Cobain heightened the emotions of her band Hole's 1994 album "Live Through This," turning it into a grunge-era touchstone. She flew off the rails again with her 2004 solo album, "America's Sweetheart," in the midst of a drug overdose and arrests. Though she's talking that album down now, it includes some of her best work.
With her new album, "Nobody's Daughter" (Mercury), credited to Hole, Love is in the midst of personal struggles again, losing custody of daughter Frances Bean and reeling from alleged embezzlement. That volatility shows, especially in the stellar "Loser Dust" and, to a certain extent, the stomping first single, "Skinny Little Bitch," but there's a new drive to remain in control.
Love has never been a technically great singer, but she certainly knows how to use her voice to communicate her pain. She purrs and yowls through "How Dirty Girls Get Clean," bouncing off the guitar roar with the same abandon she used to body surf. On "Samantha," she taunts and teases before kicking into an expletive-laden rant of a chorus. She begs and pleads on the epic "Letter to God," singing, "I never wanted to be the person you see. Can you tell me who I am?"
It's still clearly a struggle for Love to tap into her fire without going up in flames. "Nobody's Daughter" shows she's going to give it a try.
BOTTOM LINE Still aching for redemption