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Shawna Russell

Review By: George Peden, CSO Staff Journalist

“There could be no happier moment in a person’s life than the moment that they can see, touch and hear their dreams. For me, this is that moment.” 
~ Liner notes from Goddess. 

Happy is the person who can find what truly makes them content. Country newcomer Shawna Russell seems to have found the answer. It revolves around music and family. This Oklahoman is out with her debut album, Goddess, and it’s a solid mix of both. 

First: the music.

There’s talent aplenty here, with Russell co-penning 12 of the 13 tracks. The album glides, and easily, from rocky toe-tappers to contemplative introspection. “Back On My Feet”, with its hard pounded rock feel, is the album opener, claiming an immediate take notice hearing from this listener. Russell soars in her delivery, pumping her vocals without distortion, jam or jar. She may be country, but this no backwoods nasal whine -- she knows how to rock. Among the radio-friendly here is a chart potential “Don’t Put Yourself Out”. With its Shania/Faith taint, the song pulls in the right direction. It’s hooky. It’s catchy, and if it lands heads up on the right radio programmer’s pile, the song could entrée Russell to wider commercial success.

“Cemetery Hill” with it’s tale of contrast – on Friday nights the eerie surrounds give way to upbeat music and party times, while a “sadder song” plays out in the daylight hours, is a sign Russell can stretch beyond the “hurtin, leavin’ and losin’ of the familiar . The harmony rich “Goddess”, with Russell’s voice primed and pure, is also a partnership of good writing and melody. Listen out also for “The Only One”, “Fire In The Desert” and the strength of “Get Out Of My Way”, just to hear how songs can live when passion is applied.

On Russell’s webpage is a video, “Shed A Tear”. The tune, written with her uncle, Tim, and former frontman for Little Texas, Tim Rushlow, is a poignant reminder: war and duty are not the exclusives of men.

The song, with it’s homage to women who serve, is sensitive, honest and thoughtful. “They prepared her for war and combat, but not the war in her heart,” say the lyrics. In these times of conflict and uncertainty, women who bravely leave the comfort of home and the security of family, even their children, need not only our thanks but a wider understanding of their unique sacrifice –this song helps with that understanding.

While the needed mix of talent, rich vocals and cutting songs make this album one to wait on, Russell would readily admit her reward lies in the family bonds behind this CD.

“Most of the songs were written with my dad, Keith, and my uncle Tim, says the singer who cites Trisha Yearwood as an influence. “It was the most amazing thing. We would get together with some rough ideas, and several hours later we’d have these killer tunes.” (Just to complete the family circle, Jayme, Shawna’s little sister, does harmony.) It may be an modest answer to the evolution of these tunes, but it overlooks Russell has been honing her style since fronting her dad’s band at age 12 – the last three years on the road with Garth’s band buddy, Ty England, have further helped stamp out her distinctive presence.

The album, available on Way Out West Records, hits the streets on March 4. 

Do yourself the favor. Order it. 

Related Links:   
Official Website

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