Black 9 – Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around

I’m really taken with this vocal. You’ve got to give Black 9 major props for their willingness to try on Tom Petty’s “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” for size, but bravest part of this cover comes with Aven Roth’s headlong attempt to wrest this song, in some measure, from the great Stevie Nick’s grip and make some of it her own. It’s a testament to her talents that she succeeds. The story of this song doesn’t end there however. The band, especially guitarist Tiffany Marsten, more than their holds their own and help accentuate the song’s emotional wallop, but Black 9 knows how to bring all of this together with an ear for the right amount of balance. No single element dominates this recording and the song’s production enhances its power/

They take a slightly different approach to splitting the song’s vocal chores than we hear with the Tom Petty/Stevie Nicks version and the added spotlight on Roth will be a plus for many. The second vocalist for the track provides the expected male counterpoint and has a nice contrast with Roth’s lead vocal that creates some of the same chemistry we hear between Petty and Nicks. It’s mightily impressive to hear it and doubly so considering they underplay those moments on the whole.


You get the sense listening to this recording that Black 9 are a band who pays close attention to threading the disparate parts of a arrangement and performance into a greater song overall. They succeed quite nicely with “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” and a lot of the reason why is because Black 9 never treats the song as “untouchable”. Instead, making this their own in any meaningful way requires the band to restructure the song to their own strengths rather than concerning themselves with fidelity to the classic. It’s an aspect of this release that will likely keep listeners coming back again and again to the song – there’s a lot going on during its four minutes.

It ends memorably with a fiery guitar solo, veering between strikingly melodic passages and blinding runs, and the decision to wrap things up on such a note dovetails well with the preceding vocal. Black 9 resists the temptation to over-emphasize the guitar hero crutch many hard rock and metal bands rely on, but they aren’t shy by putting a spotlight on their own axe magician Tiffany Marsten. It’s part and parcel of the same balanced approach we hear in another facets of this release.

Black 9 hasn’t been active that long, but they already display the same kind of confidence you expect to hear from veteran configurations. Their cover of the Tom Petty written classic “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” might have proven to be a disaster in lesser hands, but Black 9 possess the necessary chops to transform this venerable track into something they can call their own. Judged in the context of the band’s forthcoming release Cruel History, the cover establishes the band as one to pay attention to from this point forward.

Michael Rand

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