Over the line
Paul Schaffner | Ann Arbor, MI USA | 10/27/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I own no fewer than 24 Kasey releases (including most of the singles, some promos and EPs, and all the Dead Ringer CDs), some of which I count among my favorite albums. But I didn't warm to this one much. Partly it's the move away from roots to sometimes boring and ugly sounds--about a third of the tracks I can barely listen to at all--; partly it's the increasing opacity of the lyrics that don't even make an effort to make sense (aka singer-songwriter syndrome); and partly it's a new prominence to her streak of calculated offensiveness. 'Edginess' is what they call it, I guess. It's still Kasey (which is why it still gets three stars), and she's very much in control of every song, but I fear where she's going.
"Sign on the Door" is the most infectiously upbeat tune, but it is also the one that for me crosses the line to unacceptable. Julie Miller (for example) can get away with comparing her God and her man ("I need somebody more than a lover / in my bed / I need somebody here with me in my head") because we know her heart is in the right place; but Kasey's sly blend of blasphemy and gratuitous anti-Americanism--'God might be king in the Land of the Free / But *you're* the Blessed Saviour, *you're* the one I need'--comes across as just nasty, and gives the whole album a sour taste. She's entering Madonna territory here and (speaking as a friend) that's not where I want to find her."
I'm through with you now
E. Kutinsky | Seattle, WA | 11/19/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"It was about time the spell Kasey Chambers originally cast on me wore off - I'd become a huge fan of The Captain and Barricades & Brickwalls, but there was all something a little nagging about even those two very good records. Chambers, a unique betty boop squeak of a voice, was a lustrous presence in rootsy contexts, and the best moments of those records were snarky updates on an old form, but the worst moments were forgettable alt-country duldrums of patched together cliches. Wayward Angel, Chambers' third album, had some great songs on it, but its pop and country predictability overtook a good half of the album. Carnival shows Chambers at her weakest - sad girl anthems of generic empowerment about the rain, bad girl anthems of doin-wrong that sound about as risky as songs on The Disney channel's afternoon lineup. "Light Up A Candle" fakes its slinkiness and turns dull, "Surrender" adds a Dido production of drum machines and computer bleeps that don't mask the song's epic ordinariness, ballads like "Dangerous" limp along to their own generic lethargy. Chambers isn't without charm - "Sign On The Door" and "I Got You Now" are impossible to not find fun - yet Chambers worst instincts as a song writer threaten to take over even the good songs - "Hard Road," a sad and moving movie-ready duet, borders on self-parody - lines like "There's a heavy jacket/ there's a heavy load/ there's a weight on my shoulders/ it's a hard road" read like a laundry list of related lines from every sad and moving movie-ready song you've ever heard."
Jennifer Williams | Green Bay, WI USA | 10/21/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I can't help but feel like I've been let down in some way. I understand that an artist must follow his or her vision, but in this case I found the end result to be boring and bland. Not only that, but this album doesn't rock, as some reviews have indicated. It felt like a misconstrued hodgepodge of music, almost as if Casey can't figure out what the heck she wants to do. I felt like I had been trapped in easy listening hell. After being in love with The Captain and Barricades & Brick Walls for years, this honestly is a tremendous let-down."