Kristi Rae,
Things We Had to Let Go
(independent, 2006)

Kristi Rae, based in Austin, Texas, writes and sings of a hard life. There's a gentle sadness in both her voice and her material.

Her voice fits the material nicely, which is both a strength and a weakness -- because if there is a single quality that Things We Had to Let Go needs, it is variety. Even the few up-tempo songs deal with loneliness and loss, and that creates virtually the only tension in the material. The songs and her presentation of them contain a single-mindedness, a straight-ahead, no-turn-off-the-highway form that makes them feel too familiar too quickly.

If any single technique dominates her songs, it is repetition. In each song, the guitar plays a simple pattern that hovers in the background like a drone. It never varies, and when other instruments join in, they also play simple repetitive patterns. After a while, you find yourself longing for a more varied arrangement of sounds.

Rae's vocals lack variety, also. Her voice is pleasant, but it rarely shows much power; she holds back as if she fears a strong demonstration of emotion or passion would be unseemly. Since her melodies use the same type of repetition that her arrangements do, the result is a sameness as the song progresses. As I listened, I kept hoping for a bridge that would provide variety.

Rae is, at this point in her career, a promising performer who needs more and better production values to put her songs over.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Michael Scott Cain

28 April 2007

what's new