Sometimes, no matter how intelligent an artist is, he or she has to push from another level entirely to really connect with the listener. Some might say it's writing from the heart, or maybe just letting the muse do her thing and letting the music come naturally. The bottom line is communication. When Kerry Rutherford and her impressive recording crew assembled to put together Lost Again, the pieces definitely fell into place, allowing the singer/songwriter to explore positives, negatives and emotional gray areas alike with instrumental firepower to back up her unwaveringly honest, searching lyrics.
Lost Again opens with Rutherford's voice alone, singing "There's a thing that's rising / A longing fire / Burning a hole through this heavy shell" like a hymn. Layers of acoustic guitar and viola build to provide a suitably subdued introduction to the album. The title track follows with an insistent Americana rock groove, while harmonica and a gritty electric lead guitar bolster Rutherford's vocals. The airy "Mercy" follows, awash in a folk-tinged atmosphere that gives way to the folk-rock groove of "Rebirth." The drums and bass establish a solid foundation that underpins the song's tense, intertwining instruments. It's filled with longing for, if not perfection, clarity. Venturing even further toward straight-up rock is "Fall from Grace," which actually sounds a bit like R.E.M.'s Document-era output.
Tracked at Tempel Recording Studio, the disc is expertly recorded with a cast of talented local artists providing a fitting musical canvas — the room given to Rutherford's vocals is a testament to her abilities. Lost Again is a nuanced effort that never tries too hard, though it has its moments of creative loosening up. "I Can See Clearly" starts off as a harmony-laced celestial meditation, only to morph into a lengthy, improvised mid-tempo jam. Then we're treated to the moody "Oh, Mother," which could almost pass for the Doors being fronted by Nico, though the biting, accusatory lyrics, "Oh, Mother, whatcha doing / Trying to fix your kid / Do you realize what you did," might indicate otherwise. Arguably the best songs on the album are the final two, beginning with "No Regrets." This sunbeam of a tune smiles right out of the speakers with its lilting acoustic-based melody and instantly hummable vocal line.
The closer, "Disappearing," shifts gears dramatically with its downright slinky, psychedelic-tinged programmed groove. You can't help but detect a hint of U2's anti-war polemic "Seconds" from their War album, though it's almost as much in spirit as in musical similarity. This politically charged song goes straight to the top with its complaint – "We hold these truths to be self-evident/ But someone needs to tell the President that America's not quite the same / It's disappearing" – in true protest-song tradition. Lyrically, Lost Again hits all emotional chords while remaining an engaging listen. Go to www.kerryrutherford.com for more information. (D.M. Jones)
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