As singer-songwriters go, Richard Dean cuts a pretty wide swath. He moves from country swing to bluegrass to Delta funk effortlessly, his rich, smooth voice providing a common thread throughout. The problem, if you can call it that, is that he’s so adept at each of the various styles, that when the disc draws to a close, you can’t help but feel teased, wishing that there were another half-dozen songs in any one style.
On the title cut, a beautiful country ballad that could fit easily on mainstream country playlists, Dean lets out just enough twang to be considered “country.” But he sounds equally comfortable laying down a Delta groove with Sonny Landreth on “Angelo’s.” And the bluegrass “Nobody Home In The House Of The Lord”, with guests Tim and Mollie O’Brien, is another flash of brilliance. With accompanying vocals by Celeste Krenz. “Louisiana Eyes” (a Dean-penned song once recorded by Tom Rush and Emmylou Harris) and “Up All Night” provide memorable moments as well.
The most rewarding stretch of songs however, occurs near the end of the record. Beginning with “Everything I Touch Turns To The Blues”, Dean offers several tunes in the country blues/swing vein that instantly bring to mind the late Walter Hyatt. It’s here that his voice achieves complete compatibility with the music, and ultimately, this is the direction most deserving of further exploration. If Changes In The Heart feels a bit like a sampler, that’s okay. Any direction Richard Dean goes from here will make for another fine record.