Ruth Gerson: This Can’t Be My Life


RIYL: Aimee Mann, Heather Nova, Fiona Apple

As if there needed to be proof out there that trying times can lead to the most inspired music, singer/songwriter Ruth Gerson hammers that point home again on her latest, This Can’t Be My Life. The album was recorded and ready for release in 2007, but a divorce and sudden single-momhood put the project on the shelf for a few years. Lucky for us, Gerson finally did release it, and the painful time period she endured shines through loud and clear on This Can’t Be My Life, her first full-length effort since 1998. Gerson writes music with heart, and delivers it with equal parts bluesy brood and rocking growl. It’s also melodic enough to be accessible to the masses, but still unique and cool enough to be considered alternative. Right from the title track, a piano anthem that sets the tone for the rest of the set, Gerson tells her story with simple yet powerful lyrics: “I made two lefts / I shoulda gone right / If I made one more left, it would have been right / It can’t be, can’t be my life.” This and the singsong “Bulletproof” have a falsetto melodic bent a la Aimee Mann, while “Fresh Air” and “Someday Soon” have a dark yet powerful pull akin to Fiona Apple. Add the jazzy, rainy day feel of “Hazel” and the guitar-picking “Take It Slow,” which will remind you of a female Nick Drake, and you’ve got a very complete, damn good album here. Whether Ruth Gerson breaks out big or remains on a smaller radar plane doesn’t matter. What matters is that she’s shared her stories with us, and is doing what she does best – making great music. (Wrong Records 2009)

Ruth Gerson website

  

Erin McCarley: Love, Save the Empty

How does a solo artist stand out in a crowd these days? It’s not an easy task, due to the sheer number of singers and/or songwriters that seem to be on every street corner no matter what part of the globe you’re on. To help listeners and fans find you, it helps to be quite talented, and that can be said about newcomer Erin McCarley and her debut album, Love, Save the Empty. McCarley has the kind of radio-ready sound that is sure to please the “One Tree Hill” producers and fan base alike, but this sultry vocalist writes songs that run deeper and darker than that. What you’ll hear on most of Love, Save the Empty is a gloomy undertone, and McCarley openly admits that she is most inspired when sad. But that dark feel, akin to maybe Fiona Apple or Alanis Morissette, is also tempered by an accessible yet sophisticated side to her songwriting – think Aimee Mann or Luscious Jackson’s Jill Cunniff. And while McCarley does have a nice set of songs to debut to the world, the wispy Hotel Café vocal thing does get a bit tiresome after a while. It’s also what is selling right now, so you can’t fault the artist or label. Among 11 great pieces, the ones you should keep coming back to are the opening single, “Pony (It’s OK),” the peppy “Sleep Walking” and the beautifully melancholy “Lovesick Mistake,” easily the album’s best track. (Universal Republic 2009)

Erin McCarley MySpace Page

  

Various Artists: The Hotel Cafe Presents Winter Songs

Like a VH-1 dream lineup, The Hotel Café in Los Angeles is presenting Winter Songs, a collection of both original and classic holiday tunes by today’s hottest female artists. The Epic Records release is a benefit for the Susan G. Komen For the Cure, and it also benefits anyone who has the chance to hear it. Among some of the best original holiday songs in years are the unofficial title track, “Winter Song,” by Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson, and Colbie Caillat’s stunning “Mistletoe.” Some of the classics are predictable and a bit pedestrian, such as KT Tunstall’s take on “Sleigh Ride” or Priscialla Ahn’s wispy take on “Silent Night.” But Fiona Apple’s “Frosty The Snowman” and Katy Perry’s “White Christmas” are throwback versions to a bygone era, and show something you may not have known – that they both can sing very well. Taken as a whole, this is one of the more unique and semi-awesome holiday albums to be released in quite some time, and the cause should give you that much more of a reason to pick it up. (Epic)

Hotel Cafe website

  

Related Posts