Review: Carrie Rodriguez – Love and Circumstance

Released: April 13, 2010

Label: Ninth Street Opus

Carrie Rodriguez’s last effort, 2008’s She Ain’t Me, was an album full of potential, but good as it was, it suffered from restraint. Her voice needed to soar. It yearned to soar. Yet, it never quite did. Two years have passed between that album and Love and Circumstance and if anything, Rodriguez’s voice is even stronger. More importantly though, the band frees her rather than restraining her. To boot, the material is bolder and more natural.

Rodriguez sticks to the folksy country that works so well for her. However, she also stretches the sound at times. While “Wide River to Cross” is not a shocking departure, it subtly taps into the vibe of U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name.” “I Made a Lover’s Prayer” has more rock elements, but Rodriguez makes the transition well. While the production occasionally errs on the side of slickness, she overcomes that and gives the song life. Even songs that stick to more traditional country arrangements are intriguing. On “Eyes on the Prize,” Rodriguez borrows just enough from Patsy Cline without trying to be Patsy Cline. “La Puñalada Trapera,” the closer and perhaps the album’s strongest track, allows the beauty of her voice to shine in an equally beautiful language.

Love and Circumstance is a more open, less restrained set of songs and that really releases Rodriguez’s voice to be unique and compelling. She conveys a very pure emotion and doesn’t merely rely on her technical excellence. In the more natural setting of this album, Rodriguez makes it quite clear that she has more than just potential.

Satriani: 9/10
Zappa: 7/10
Dylan: 7/10
Aretha: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

If you’re curious about my rating system, it’s explained here.

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