Reviews about "Next"
Vickie Russell evokes laughs, tears on new album
Don't be fooled by the smiling, innocuous face on the cover; there's a wicked wit hiding beneath the pop country flavors and Adult Contemporary hooks on Next. More specifically, the title track which is about searching for Mr. Right and, well, sometimes ending up with Ms. Wrong. "Big, blonde and built/You thought he was a steal," Russell sings playfully. "Then you caught him dancing/In your panties and heels." Pretty funny stuff, and the kind of song which could leap onto country radio with its hilarious lyrics alone. (Actually, knowing the market quite well, it'd probably take a cover from a popular country act to get it onto the proper airwaves, which is too bad.) That tune alone is worth having this CD. Every woman should be able to relate to it, the frustrations of the dating scene wherein each seemingly good find turns out to be a bust - or even an arsonist.
Nevertheless, I don't want to peg Vickie Russell as a novelty singer, either. "All the Time" is a moving tale of romantic reconciliation with a sad beginning and a happy ending, breaking away from country music's soap opera formula of napkin weeping. Russell strays from her country roots, too.
The piano-driven, cello-colored "Painted by Monet" showcases some elegant artistry while "Tell Me from Your Heart" recalls early '80s AM radio Adult Contemporary. On "He's Your Man Now," Russell manages to be both humorous and melancholy, simultaneously missing an old flame while warning his new girl about his faults.
Vickie Russell returns wit to country music
If Dolly Parton is interested in reviving her superstar country career, she might want to think about covering the title track of Vickie Russell's new CD. "What about the one before, I think it was Wayne?/At your 10th reunion you rekindled the flame/Got you hot and bothered by the way he kissed/Had a second job as an arsonist," Russell sings. Such twisted humor has sadly become a lost art in country music; I applaud Russell for reminding us that this genre is not as vanilla as people think.
Russell sways back and forth from old to new country, utilizing elements of both to create a sound that is neither too retro nor too pop. She should be able to corral both audiences then. Her singing borrows from folk music, such as on "Painted by Monet" and "I Want You," with its reflective acoustic opening that then picks up speed. The piano song, "Go to Sleep," is as sweet and uplifting they come. You will emerge from Next with a large smile on your face, either from laughing out loud or simply being touched.
Vickie Russell's 'Next' an impressive album
New Paltz songbird Vickie Russell checks in with another impressive release, "Next." Produced by Russell and Robert Bard, it combines her accessible melodies and clever wordplay that has become her trademark. Local heroes Martin Keith on bass, Eric Parker on drums and Amy Fradon on vocals make impressive appearances here. If you've been to her live shows, you've heard her tell the story about how when she was a youngster, she told her parents, "I want to be famoused." She's a step closer with this release.
The heart of "Next" is her gorgeous voice, as she telegraphs knowing insights to modern life and love. The spare piano and violin of "Painted by Monet" starts the proceedings. "Tell Me From Your Heart" follows the same template until the chorus when drums join in. The title track "Next" has a country swing to it and a lighthearted look at love in modern times. The pensive "All the Time" is, uum, next, a fairytale love story with a happy ending (after all). "Every Day's A Miracle" is a near rocker, while "I Want You" reverts back to an acoustic guitar and voice for the verse, but explodes into a kickin' chorus with drums and all.
Some of the songs have Cabaret leanings, like the "Eva The Diner Diva," or the hilarious "Yard Sale." "Song For Peter" and "Go to Sleep" could even work well in musical theatre. All around musical comfort food, Russell scores big with this one.