Chill Out Island

From New Age to downtempo electronica to acoustic folk, Chill Out Island surveys the finest in relaxing music.

Archive for March, 2008

Vickie Russell returns wit to country music

Reviewed by Carson James

Artist: Vickie Russell

Title: Next

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.


Torch’s ‘Charmed’ offers a ‘world of endless delights’


Reviewed by Carson James

Artist: Torch

Title: Charmed

Torch’s Charmed has been delighting me for a couple of months now; in fact, it has become such a presence in my everyday listening that reviewing it is proving difficult. Familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, just an absence of words. Finding ways of writing about a well-played record as if it was still fresh in my mind would normally be impossible, but thankfully Charmed conveys more of its abundant qualities after massive spins.

At first, my attention was fixated on the smoky singing of Seela Misra. Veering from the film noir-ish enigmatic beauty of “Night of the Arrival” to the giddy self-confidence and radiant sexuality of “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” it was inevitable that my ears would linger on her voice. However, after a while I began to notice the top-flight musicianship of her band. Chris Maresh and Mike Porter are superb bassists, helping give the songs (a combination of original compositions and nicely chosen remakes) their tight, intoxicating rhythms. Jon Greene is a solid drummer, especially thrilling on “Is It Enough” and “Caravan.”

I envy those who will just now hear Charmed. To them, a world of endless delights will follow.