Carrie Akre

...Last the Evening

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For Carrie Akre's 2007 solo release, she worked with Steve Fisk as producer, as good a sign as any that one's on the right track for a fine album. ...Last the Evening benefits from the combination of talents throughout, as Akre's great voice and ear for classic rock/pop melodies and performances match Fisk's producing skill; the 11 songs gently touch on everything from '50s-derived tearjerkers to current indie radio with a more overtly commercial edge. That said, Akre clearly has a big fascination for blues-influenced dramatics -- the album feels like it should all be performed under a sole spotlight in a comfortable nightclub that's not too cramped, but where they haven't quite yet put in a smoking ban. At points sometimes, everything feels like it's actually not all that far from the Vonda Shepards of the world, and if that might cause a few people to seize up uncontrollably, the larger point is that this is a well-performed exploration of a form that is often unfairly dismissed because of its blander performers -- a problem that, after all, affects any style! Akre's singing, if rarely varying from song to song, is all spot-on, and that makes the occasional tweaks to her delivery stand out more -- consider the reverb that Fisk adds to the pre-chorus breaks on "Take My Heart," adding a sudden depth to the overall mix. Meanwhile, her choice to strip back "Trafalgar Square" to mostly piano and vocals allows both to stand out more strongly than they might otherwise; her self-harmonizing at points is especially lovely. Other touches, like Johnny Sangster's acoustic guitar break on "Stupid Is," help vary up the results further.

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