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‘Voice Of The Heart’: Karen Carpenter’s Beautiful Swan Song

Released in October 1983, Carpenters’ ’Voice Of The Heart’ is a posthumous release that captured the deep beauty in Karen Carpenter’s voice.

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Carpenters Voice Of The Heart album cover web optimised 820

If there’s a more beautiful ballad than the opening track from the Carpenters’ eleventh album on any of their previous albums then we would like to hear about it. ‘Now’, written by Roger Nichols and Dean Pitchford, is one of the two songs that Karen recorded at her last ever recording session, ten months before her tragic and untimely passing in February 1983. The song’s lyrics are poignant and to add to our sense of loss over Karen it was done in one take, which just shows what a naturally gifted singer she was…as well as someone whose singing was seemingly effortless.

Listen to Voice Of The Heart right now.

‘You’re Enough’ is the other song on the aptly named, Voice Of The Heart, to come from the final session in April 1982, and is appropriately one written by Richard and John Bettis. The album, released on 11 October 1983, is made up of tracks from various sessions between 1976 and 1982 on what was the first record to be released after Karen’s death. Given the fact that the majority of the ten tracks are ones that Richard revisited to make up this record it is much better album than you might at first think, assuming that you have not heard it before.

One of the best songs on the record is a ballad that had been a minor hit for singer Bobby Vinton in 1979. Karen recorded it first for a solo album she was making with producer Phil Ramone in New York. The version on Voice Of The Heart is more lush, whereas Karen’s recording for her solo album features mainly just a piano accompaniment. It’s a case of two sides of the same coin; both are beautiful. The version on Voice Of The Heart became the lead single to be taken from the album, making No.7 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and No.101 on the Hot 100.

Paul Williams is an idiosyncratic song writer, having written such beauties as ‘An Old Fashioned Love Song’ for Three Dog Night, Helen Reddy’s ‘You And Me Against The World’ and ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ for the Carpenters, but he probably wrote no better ballad than ‘Ordinary Fool’. From the opening chords of Richard’s electric piano, to Earle Dumler’s oboe it sets the mood that Karen takes up with one of her finest vocals.

‘You’re Baby Doesn’t Love You Anymore’ was originally a minor hit for Ruby and The Romantics in 1965 but their version cannot hold a candle to the Carpenters’ take on this lovely ballad. It became the second single from the album and made No.12 on the Adult Contemporary chart. The album itself made No.6 on the UK chart, on 16 October, and, rather surprisingly, only made No.46 in America.

The album’s final cut, ‘Look To Your Dreams’, another Richard Carpenter and John Bettis composition, is a suitably sad, and low-key conclusion. It ends with a piano coda played by Richard and that captures the deep beauty in Karen Carpenter’s voice.

Years later, Richard shared his thoughts on the album on his website saying:

“At the time I believed that Karen would have wanted these songs released, and I felt the same. All these years later, I feel differently; the songs are outtakes, and though I still feel that ‘Ordinary Fool’ is a good vehicle for Karen and a good piece of arranging and production on my part, had Karen lived, we would have turned our attention to the new songs (along with some standards, no doubt).”

Voice of The Heart can be bought here.

Listen to the best of the Carpenters on Apple Music and Spotify.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Linda Hayes

    October 16, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    Karen had the most beautiful voice I have ever heard. I have every CD made by them. This last one I feel was the best. Look To Your Dreams is my favorite song. It has such meaning and touched my heart deeply
    She left us way too soon and one can only imagine the music we lost by her passing.

    • sandy

      October 3, 2015 at 1:26 am

      that’s the truth she was great my friend didn’t like her cause she didn’t scream oh well I love her and 2 months after she die my sister die and I promise my sister I would play her song dreams my sister had elsipy and this group help her

  2. Leandro Tomaz

    October 17, 2014 at 1:49 am

    I´m loving this site! Karen had the most beautiful voice ever!
    You should have talked about Two Lives that IMHO together with Now and Ordinary Fool are the standouts of this gorgeous album.

  3. Eleonora Reyna

    October 17, 2014 at 6:01 am

    Este disco es una belleza, lo tengo en vinilo y espero que haya salido en CD o DVD para comprarlo. Es una voz angelical, por eso solo estuvo entre nosotros 32 años. A más de 30 años de su partida, la sigo escuchando casi todos los días!!!

  4. William Murray

    October 18, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Karen Carpenter has been my favorite artist since I learned of her (and the Carpenters) when I was 9 – I’m 35 now. It always give me such pleasure to see how many people still appreciate her and Richard’s extraordinary talent.

    KC ha sido mi artista favorita desde el momento en que me enteré de la música de los Carpenters cuando tenía 9 años – ahora tengo 35. Siempre me da gusto cuando vea que hay muchos que siguen apreciando su gran talento.

  5. Julio Céar

    October 2, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Inolvidables. SU música aún me acompaña. Y karen una voz angelical en un mundo que no supo comprender su corazón.
    Desde Buenos Aires, Argentina

    Unforgettable. His music is still with me. And karen an angelic voice in a world that did not know to understand his heart.
    From Buenos Aires, Argentina

  6. Rita

    October 3, 2015 at 5:32 am

    I became when I was only 9!! Now I’m 50 and still listen almost their songs every day! The end words of the text are perfect: “Karen Carpenter’s singing is perfection, nothing more, nothing less”

  7. melissa zelek

    October 4, 2015 at 1:36 am

    I love the carpenters they were a awesome band there music is peace full . I miss Karen she had a beautiful voice and so does Richard .

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