Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Country, Folk, World Music, Pop
This sophomore album from Bering Strait, the clutch of Russian musicians with classical chops, makes less of a plea for mainstream success than their 2003 debut, settling more into a sort of Nickel Creek groove, with moody... more »
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This sophomore album from Bering Strait, the clutch of Russian musicians with classical chops, makes less of a plea for mainstream success than their 2003 debut, settling more into a sort of Nickel Creek groove, with moody meditations on life and love and a flash-fingered, 'grassy, Jerry Douglas-produced instrumental, "From Ankara to Izmir," that should have live audiences standing up in wild cheers. They mine the Slavic mood on their opener, "Safe in My Lover's Arms," and its successor, the folk song "Oy, Moroz-Moroz," then move along to cover (less successfully) Fleetwood Mac's "You Make Lovin' Fun," in which lead vocalist Natasha Borzilova never manages to get a grip on the song's tense undercurrent. Ultimately, with the addition of the jazzy instrumental "What's for Dinner," Pages is an album that offers a little something for everybody. As such, it's hard to pin down stylistically, and tends to play things a bit too safe. But doesn't it do it beautifully? --Alanna Nash
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No Sophomore Slump Here
Erik North | San Gabriel, CA USA | 07/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Those enterprising Russians who name themselves Bering Strait and call Nashville their home base are back with their second album, PAGES. And in much the same fashion as their self-titled debut of two and a half years ago, they go for a sound that only SEEMS to be tailor-made for corporate country radio. For their second go-around, they got country/bluegrass maestro Carl Jackson, who helmed the 2003 Grammy-winning country compilation album LIVIN', LOVIN', LOSIN', and prove that, as Tift Merritt had done last year with her sophomore album TAMBOURINE, they have every intention of not falling into a sophomore slump.
PAGES, like the debut album, takes elements of newgrass, country, and rock and blends them into a very unique package that sets them apart from every other Nashville band, all of whom have long since sounded the same. Natasha Borzilova still handles much of the lead vocals, but her second-in-command Lydia Salnikova gets things off and running with her own self-titled composition "Safe In My Lover's Arms", as well as co-writing "Long Time Comin'" The band no longer has the direct services of banjo wiz kid Ilya Toshinsky, but he's still there on a few tracks, including the instrumental "What's For Dinner?" and the newgrassy version of Fleetwood Mac's 1977 FM rock classic "You Make Lovin' Fun." Their Russian roots are clearly shown on their adaptation of the Russian folk song "Oy, Moroz-Moroz." Dobro master Jerry Douglas also wrote and produced the track "From Ankara To Izmir", a perfectly fine newgrass instrumental with a rock feel to it.
If Bering Strait gets lost in the Nashville shuffle, it won't be out of lack of trying; it will be because Music Row only thinks of art in terms of dollars, rather than art in terms of creativity. This group has it in spades, and deserves to be far more popular than it is. PAGES is proof of that."
Outstanding Sophmore Album
C. Hedrick | Elko, Nevada USA | 07/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This group continues to amaze. It is a shame that Country Radio isn't listening. The albums opening song "Safe in My Lovers Arms" sung by Lydia, who is more often singing backup, pulls you in and doesn't let go. For those of you who know the group, Ilya is not listed as a member any longer, but he did contribute to the album. If you read the credits his presence is definately there, and if you know the music you can hear it! "Cruel Man" is another great tune belted out by Natasha the lead singer. My personal favorite at this point is "Just Imagine". It is a great country ballad. Musicians they definately are, as heard in the albums two intstrumentals. Whoever you are if you like music you'll love this album. BUY IT!!!!"
Better than most, Not as good as it could be.
Las Vegas Cowboy | 09/29/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Circa 2002, I saw a vignette on 60 minutes about a band touring the Nashville area. No big deal, until they started showing some footage of this band in concert. The audience was stomping, hooting and hollering. The song they were reacting to? Something in Russian! Boy had we come a long way from the days of the Cold War, Glasnost, and the Berlin Wall coming down. Here were cowboy hats and boots dancing to something that the house of un-American activities might have issues with.
Needless to say, I sought out a copy of their recording. This was a direct kick in the teeth of Nashville. Here were these kids from halfway around the world who had somehow nailed that uniquely "American" sound. Then, towards the end of the album, these kids pulled out their musical chops and showed some of the more intricate layering that they could produce. Interesting, I thought, but at the heart of this album was an overall country feel. You could stick most of the tracks on any Country radio station, and they would have gone over enthusiastically.
So, with baited breath, I peeled the packaging off my new copy of "Pages". This time around, the overtly non-country came at the beginning, with the pseudo-country following later.
The first song, "Safe in my lover's arms", is a haunting song full of depth and longing. Think Siberry's "Calling all Angels" with an upbeat message.
"Oy, Moroz-Moroz" is what appears to be the homage to their hometown roots. Delivered in their native tongue, this song lacks the get up and go of the "Parushka-Paranya" and has a dirge feeling to it.
"From Ankara to Izmir" is the instrumental piece along the lines of "Bering Strait". At just over 6 minutes, this gives the group a last chance to stretch their musical wings before embarking on the more pedestrian sound that follows. Instead of this being the the climax of the album, shoving it in the front makes the rest of the album a sort of letdown.
From the first chords of "Long Time Comin'", we know we're back to the Country, going so far as to say that if this song, singer and all, were to have been transplanted onto a Jo Dee Messina album, no one would be any the wiser.
"Just Imagine" moves strongly towards the Adult Contemporary Pop sound, with a steel guitar, so they don't stray too far from their audience.
The title track, "Pages" may be the closest homage they pay to the mountain music they site as influencing their music.
Fleetwood Mac's cover "You Make Loving Fun" is technically note for note well produced, however, it feels over-produced. There's an old saying in music, if you're going to cover another band's music, you need to make it your own. In this case, with the possible exception of the non-heartfelt delivery of the lead singer, this could have been lifted directly from an unused studio track from the Rumours album.
"Cruel Man" is about as Rhythm and Blues as they get on the album. Listening to the song as I write this, I'm trying to picture the pain that might be conveyed in this song, and find the delivery, once again, sterilized.
From the opening notes of "What's for Dinner" I found myself thinking this is the "Jam" song on the album. Every performer gets their 30 second spotlight.
"Choose Your Partner" is one of the more solid country outings on this album. The right amount of emotion. This is a song where the listener seems to feel that the singer emotionally knows what they're talking about, rather than just merely running through the words.
Finishing off the album is "Hurts Just a Little". Another solid country Pop song.
All in all, this is a producer's album rather than an album of the artists. This is what happens when a record company spends too much time reading statistics and not enough time listening to the artists they are sitting in front of and recording. The album is aimless in just about the same way that the first album seemed straight ahead. I just kept feeling that this album was about to take off, it went in another direction in cruise control.
While the first outing seemed to be raw with emotion even in what otherwise would have felt pedestrian, this album's lack of emotion from the singers detract significantly from the songs, with the sole exception of "Safe in My Lover's Arms" which seems to distilled all of the emotion available to the rest of the album and presented it up front.
If you thoroughly enjoyed the first album, you?ve probably already got this one. If you?re looking to get into Bering Strait for the first time, definitely start at the beginning and work your way up to this album.
Otherwise, if you?re still not sure, wait for the 3rd album which, if Bering Strait is focused on who they really are, should be a much more solid album than this sophomore outing.