Katrina Carlson

Here and Now

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Katrina Carlson captured pop fans' hearts with her debut album, 2001's Apples for Eve, while her smash sophomore set, 2003's Untucked, helped send a quartet of singles into the U.S. charts. Since then, the singer experimented with an edgier sound, but returned to lusher pastures for her third set, Here and Now. "Break My Fall," however, is a sharp reminder of her journey into tougher lands, on a song underpinned at points by fiery rock guitar that singes classic rock territory. "The Secret" is nowhere near as hard, yet still has a pop/rock edge, but these two song's are the exception to the set's overwhelmingly soft and quiet rule. The album's lovely title track and first single is much more representative, a shimmering number filled with orchestral strings that swell languorously into the crystalline chorus. "Daisy in Chains," in contrast, is dappled with '60s sunshine pop, threatening to break from its shackles, and just about does during the anthemic chorus. In contrast, "No One Is to Blame" is deliberately edged with an '80s pop style, a reminder of its past. A Top Five hit for Howard Jones back in 1986, the British star joins Carlson for a cover that nearly bests the original smash. Its downbeat theme fits beautifully within this set, whose own themes revolve around fragile relationships, searches for love, and the need to hold it tight. For Carlson, love is a balm, and the only cure for her own insecurity. Obviously she's not alone in this attitude, giving her lyrics a universal appeal. The music, comforting and comfortable, soft as a summer breeze, and flecked with lush atmospheres and pop sweetness, provides the perfect foil for Carlson's own sweet tones and heartfelt deliveries. The album may be a tad too laid-back for the pop kids, but more mature fans will adore it.

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