Whoever said absence makes the heart grow fonder must’ve been thinking about the relationship between Lita Ford and rock ‘n’ roll. The hard rock queen stepped away from her remarkable musical career back in the 1990s to devote herself to family and the surroundings of real life on a surreal Caribbean island, but with the call of the sonic wild getting louder and louder, she made the decision to dive back in at the deep end – only to find that she had every bit as much love for the heavy rock grind. And as it turns out, the feeling is mutual.
With Wicked Wonderland, her first full-length offering since 1995’s Black, Lita shows that her flair for sexy, stomping, searing sounds has only gotten more vivid – which is mighty impressive, given a history that includes such classics as “Kiss Me Deadly” and the Ozzy Osbourne duet “Close My Eyes Forever.” The disc, created in tandem with husband Jim Gillette – whose own musical history is highlighted by his work with acclaimed metallurgists Nitro – is a hard and heavy affirmation of the sensuality and smarts that’ve carried her through three decades of action.
“It’s funny, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve only gotten freakier,” says Lita. “Yeah, I took time to raise my kids and by raising my kids, I mean really doing it – home-schooling them myself, growing our food, baking bread for dinner. But at the end of the day, when it’s time to go to the boudoir, Jim and I are super-sexual and that’s definitely reflected in these songs.”
It certainly is – in both the pelvis-pounding rhythms and lascivious lyrics of tunes like the appropriately-tiled “Indulge” and the so-nasty-it’s-nice “Crave.” With Lita showing off her trademark ability to purr seductively through some tracks and deliver a well-placed knockout punch on no-holds-barred songs like “Piece (Hell Yeah),” Wicked Wonderland showcases an artist who’s clearly got plenty to say and no shortage of ways to say it.
The 12-cut disc certainly touches on the sort of headbang-inducing riffage that gave Lita her start way back when, but there are also surprises aplenty – from the smoking slide guitar that punctuates the bluesy “Scream” to the psychedelic industrial swirl that envelops “Everything.” It’s a potent blend, propelled by in-your-face drumming and Lita’s effortlessly steamy vocals.