On the hummably upbeat “I Don’t Want to Wait,” the artist asks for prayer and peace on earth.
Vivid images of Cole’s sexual fantasies (from bondage to posing as a dippy centerfold) dominate the lusty “Feelin’ Love.” Elsewhere, public immodesty passes for freedom, and the artist recalls “sex-starved teachers trying to touch my a–” (“Tiger”). An undercurrent of angst and hostility flows through “Mississippi” and the obscenity-laced “Throwing Stones” (“So call me a b—h in heat and I’ll call you a muthaf—–“). Lots of pain. Other cuts give a nod to reincarnation (“Hush Hush Hush”) and, depending on the interpretation, drug use (“Carmen”).
Lyrically vague at times, This Fire leaves listeners to ponder the smouldering ashes of frustration and bitterness. Not bad artistically, but virtually devoid of hope and rife with problematic elements. Fans of Paula Cole’s style would do better with Rebecca St. James’ edifying release, God.