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
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.