Kerry Rutherford has been everything from a shrimp cannery worker to an intuitive arts practitioner to a communications workshop facilitator (plus more, the exhaustive list of which would double the length of this review). With the release of Chara River, her first album, Rutherford adds yet another line to her ever-burgeoning resume.
Initial recording for the Chara River project was started in Seattle and completed, as well as mixed and mastered, at Monastic Chambers. The nine songs are mostly acoustic in nature with themes of spiritual searching and contemplation. Rutherfords fragile, vulnerable voice, with a timbre similar to non-shrill Yoko One, is matched by her reticent and fluid acoustic guitar playing. Like the lyrics, the music has its own agenda, not following the authoritative demands of a staunch metronome but ebbing and flowing as the mood strikes.
The Seed is an excellent example of her songwriting style, mixing finger-pick acoustic guitar with a late 60s folk feel straight from the heart. Atop this is the confident Spanish guitar of David Bell that adds a nice coloring to the piece. Described as a parenting guide with an edge the upbeat Oh Mother has elements of 70s soft rock, compliments of the light drum kit and bass. Kicking the soft-rock feel to the next level is Comin Home, which is singable yet energetic and rough. Electric guitar and heavier drums make Take Me Somewhere the most rock-prone offering on the album, allowing Rutherford a chance to exercise her rock voice. Her normally breathy vocals fit very nicely on Because Of You, a relaxed love song filled with such poetic lyrics as Every day that goes by / Is a melody / A symphony. Take It is a rousing, attitude-laden diatribe against those with whom Rutherford disagrees, presented in true folk protest song style. Light drums and acoustic guitar accompany the hopeful yet morose story of leaving the past behind found in Where Love Resides. The title track, the anchor of the album, is a 10-minute epic. Opening with a musical introduction of heavily effected acoustic guitar surrounded by whirling sound effects, ethereal and floating vocals soon enter. Shrouded in reverb, the sounds of wind and chimes all conspire to give the listener a feeling of traveling on a transcendental journey, guided by Rutherford.
Also impressive about this album is the great artwork and professional packaging. Visit a local Wooden Nickel, Borders or Barnes & Nobles for this new age acoustic treat or visit www.charariver.com for online ordering and further sales locations.
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