With its memorable melodies and seductive soundscape, Claudia Russell’s new album, All Our Luck Is Changing, elicits the classic era of ageless American music. Russell delivers a whimsical melting pot of traditional and contemporary styles, from earnest folk to sweet jug band blues, driven by her deft guitar work and a versatile, expressive voice that tips the hat to artists as diverse as Dolly Parton, Suzanne Vega and Aretha Franklin. Claudia paints her material with emotional depth, looking forward and back at life with both childlike awe and the mature wisdom of a musician with four decades of music under her belt.
Working with three-time Grammy nominee producer Peter Case, Claudia and her husband Bruce Kaplan (guitar, mandolin) cut the majority of the record live with some of LA’s best musicians. Using just a few overdubs, Case created a balance between the immediacy of a live record and the freedom to embellish that the studio experience inspires.
Russell and Kaplan have honed their distinctive sound over a decade of touring festivals, clubs, concert series and house concerts, often as a duo and sometimes with their ever-changing band, The Folk Unlimited Orchestra. On stage they draw audiences in with clever banter and an entertaining “who me?” attitude. In their various configurations, Russell and Kaplan have graced the stages of the Kerrville Folk Festival, The Great American Music Hall, Club Passim and key acoustic venues such as McCabe’s and Berkeley’s Freight & Salvage. The duo call the San Francisco Bay Area home and are one of the cornerstones of its thriving roots music scene. Before focusing on her own songwriting, Claudia was a member of BMG recording artists Maggie’s Farm, sharing stages with Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. She was also one third of the award-winning vocal trio The Life Is Grand Band, part of the Smithsonian/Folkways Fast Folk collection.
All Our Luck Is Changing is Claudia’s fourth CD. Her first, Song Food, earned her Best New Artist honors from Boston folk music powerhouse WUMB. Her two other previous albums have also been championed by public radio and Claudia has been featured in Sing Out, The Boston Globe, and the SF Chronicle. NPR’s All Things Considered interviewed Claudia in connection with her father, Val Rosing’s (aka Gilbert Russell) 100th birthday. Rosing recorded more than a 100 songs and had a million-selling hit in the 1930s with the original BBC recording of “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic.” The song remains a children’s favorite even today.
Though they might not carry the trappings of the usual music industry formula for overnight success, self-described ‘late bloomers’ Russell and Kaplan have refined their sound into an eclectic, full-bodied tapestry of unplugged Americana. Giving themselves the time and space to come into their own as people and musicians has allowed for the creation of their definitive album. The duo have dealt themselves a winning hand. Indeed, all you have to do is listen and you too will believe! All Their Luck Is Changing!