First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2006, Volume 13, #10
Written by John Metzger
Sign on the Door, the second tune on her latest outing Carnival, might be about Kasey Chambersí recent spiritual awakening. Nevertheless, when she sings, "Iíve got walls coming down that I donít need no more," it also sounds as if she is speaking about her music. Throughout her career, Chambers has pulled a wide array of influences into her country-influenced work. With Carnival, however, she finds a different way to frame them. Although the outing bears hints of her Americana-imbued past, Chambers also fully escapes from the boundaries that once confined her. She utilizes her extraordinary gift for concocting infectious melodies as a launching pad from which she subsequently dabbles in everything from adult alternative (Colour of a Carnival) to steamy jazz and blues (Light Up a Candle) and from intoxicating R&B (Railroad) to raging punk (Iíve Got You Now). Elsewhere, she is joined by Powderfingerís Bernard Fanning for the soulful ballad Hard Road, and she strikes a pose that is akin to Lisa Loeb on the gentle but bubbly folk-pop of Nothing at All.
Much like Loeb ó as well as Sixpence None the Richerís Leigh Nash, for that matter ó Chambers has a voice that exudes an air of innocent fragility, and she uses it to ring additional complexity out of her lyrics. The Rain may begin with a weary sense of self-determination, but the beams of sunlight that filter through her vocals bathe the song in a warm, optimistic glow. Likewise, the chorus to Colour of a Carnival contains as much defiance as it does heartbroken yearning, and Iíve Got You Now is as sexual as it is vengeful. Although the poetry of her lyrics continues to lag behind the expressiveness of her articulations, the gap has closed considerably, and when combined with Carnivalís broader appeal, it becomes readily apparent that Chambers deserves a wider following than she typically has attracted. Ĺ
Carnival is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box