Review – Sing Out Fall 05 Issue
Ready to Receive
Radio Rhythm Records
Singer-songwriter Claudia Russell skates around the edges of and occasionally through the contemporary folk genre with her attractive blend of blues, jazz and folk-pop. Claudia Russell works with her husband Bruce Kaplan. He is instrumental in her performance, literally and figuratively, since he co-produced the CD with her, and plays mandolin on several of the tracks. [BK's note: I also did the artwork!] He also co-authored a couple of the 13 songs. Russell, in turn, has collaborated with a few others. In addition to originals she includes songs by Jeff Talmadge, Fred Alley, Ted Waterhouse, Kyle Johnson, Bob Dylan and Lori B.
What sets Ready To Receive apart from the crowd is that Russell is a vocalist in the old-fashioned sense. She can really sing. Not only does she have an impressive set of pipes, she interprets songs rather than merely conveying lyrics. She sounds involved with the songs. Russell and Kaplan and their production accomplices Carl Byron and Mark Governor keep the lavish production well below Russell's engaging voice. It's a relief when a vocalist gets to shine without being buried by the production. They substantially vary the production for each song, which keeps the CD interesting from beginning to end. There's some rock production, some folk-bluegrass and some bluesy- jazz. Some songs, such as "Oh California" are humorous, while others such as "Just Like You" are rive tingly serious. In the latter, Russell shares her anxieties of suffering cancer like her mother. Waterhouse's “Hang On” laments the plight of farmers, with echoes of Stan Rogers' “Lies” and “Field Behind the Plow.”
Ready to Receive is a professional work of strong musicality delivered by a voice superior to most in the crowded field of singer-songwriters. — Rich Warren
Rich Warren is the host of the nationally syndicated radio show The Midnight Special, originating from WFMT in Chicago.