Elyse Saunders – Elyse Saunders (2008)

CD Review Elyse Saunders – Elyse Saunders (2008)

by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show


Self Release © 2008 Elyse Saunders
UPC 776127302722
Release Date – 3 December 2008
1.Mama Hates Guitars
2. Don’t Touch Me Like That
3. Bittersweet
4. Long Enough
5. Army Of Angels
6. Try It Out For Size
7. Where I’ve Never Been
8. Sally’s Rockin’ Out Tonight
9. Nobody’s Watchin’
10. Paris Is Burning
11. Love Re-invented
12. What’s Stoppin’ You
13. More Of That
An impressive debut release from this young Canadian.
Recorded in 2008 when aged 19, this self titled 13-track outing marks the debut for this Peterborough, Ontario-based singer. It was produced with songs written or co-written by Cyril Rawson, who is one of the most prolific music creators in the Canadian country scene. Rawson has had over 250 songs recorded by some of the biggest names in Country music – Reba McEntire, Tanya Tucker, Gretchen Wilson, Lorrie Morgan, Anne Murray, Hal Ketchum and Lisa Brokop to name just a few. Working with Elyse he must surely have recognised her rich talent and together the combination of experience and youth is a winning combination. Rawson guided her vocal development, sound and style in order for her to be able to feel the songs. The format can best be described as country / pop with a roots edge and lyrically the tunes are relatable to a wide audience. Recorded at Country ‘Q’ Productions in Nashville, the production is clean, never cluttered and the musicianship is second to none.
The albums kicks off with the lively rocky number ‘Mama Hates Guitars’, penned in third person it relates a tale of a mother neglected by her rock-star husband and urging him to decide between the music business and her – seems like the guitar won.The pace continues on the danceable, swampy rocker ‘Don’t Touch Me Like That’, a desperate plea to a boyfriend not to force a relationship to breaking point. It features some tasty licks by Dan Dugmore on Dobro, overlaid by a driving fiddle (Glen Duncan) and electric guitars (JT Corenfloss, Mike Durham). The excellent ‘Bittersweet’ was the second single released to the Canadian Radio network – memories be they good or bad can make you happy or just a little sad.
One might question the running ordering on this album, for me, some of the best material lies in its second halve. My personal favourite is track 9, ‘Nobody’s Watchin’. I was not surprised to read this became the lead-off single. Given the right promotion and marketing, it’s a tune worthy of a Top 10 position on any country chart. This catchy up-tempo love song showcases Saunders vocal style where she is not merely walking behind some of the young modern day country stars but running alongside them.
The soaring and passion filled mid-tempoLong Enough’ draws you in immediately with Howard Duck’s piano intro. The song projects the fulfilling of a dream with the magic feeling of a first romance but with aching concerns that commitment may not realise wishes for eternal love.
Where I’ve Never Been’ is beautiful slow paced delicate ballad, the hurt and regret that rings out in every anguished line is believable. The sensitive ‘ Love Reinvented’ has a great vibe with a crisp tight sound and an infectious hook. Tim Buppert, David Martin and renowned Canadian artist Lisa Brokop add the harmonies on this joyous treasure.
The gorgeous ‘Paris Is Burning’ is lyrically beautiful and this slower tempo heartache song enables Elyse to show off her vocal control to perfection, underpinned with the accordion and fiddle accompaniment.
The instantly likeable ‘More Of That’ has a Keith Urban’esque feel with its opening banjo riffs and is a track that has you reaching for the replay button. The imagery is of a couple dancing on a beach, she’s singing to him saying “I Want More Of That, I Want More Of You” – Nice!
My only gripe with this album is that Elyse’s diction at times could be better; an important factor in the country genre is to be able to clearly hear every word sung so the message never lets up. It is hoped on a future release that she will play a role in the writing progress drawing on life’s emotions as she matures.
Play this disc in random mode and you won’t be disappointed.

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