November '03

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Candace Evans
So Nice - Airborne Audio Productions

Add Candace Evans to the list of sweet, sultry female jazz vocalists just too good for this town. Anybody this good eventually leaves KC, to our big, big loss.

So Nice is so apropos. Evans’ voice is like a heart pump, smoothin’ the way for love. If her take of “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” doesn’t puncture any jaded guy’s armor, there’s no hope for men. Evans reveals a hint of tease in “Centerpiece” as she makes her case known on the piano after Jim Mair’s sax opens the way. Of course, feel her womanly power in “Witchcraft,” though Evans here tends to nudge the limits of her vocal range a little. It all comes together on “Sugar” as Evans showcases her talent on piano and her fellow musicians, especially Greg Richter on vibraphone, makes one give thanks for the session.

To experience this A-list vocalist and musician, catch Candace Evans at Jardine’s on Dec. 19. —Bruce Rodgers

Sarah McLachlan
Afterglow - Arista Records

An album six years in the making, Afterglow was well worth the wait. McLachlan’s warm vocals and the layered accompaniment create an intense yet calm album — songs guaranteed to ease one’s mind after a bad day. And McLachlan has always been an artist you shouldn’t feel bad about buying, especially from her Lillith Fair days.

The lyrics of many songs, such as the love-ridden “Trainwreck” and “Push,” could easily be mistaken for her last album, Surfacing. Yet tracks like “World on Fire” make it clear McLachlan’s repertoire has expanded with the events of the last six years. It exclaims, “The more we take the less we become/The fortune of one man means less for some.”

An as an added bonus, special features on the enhanced CD include remixes of McLachlan favorites, new video clips and even b-roll footage from the “Fallen” shoot. —Jessica Chapman

Trouble Junction
Trial by Fire - Guttersnipe

Trouble Junction has become something of a semi-legend in the local alt-country scene, playing in just about every smoked-up bar in the tri-state area, and probably beyond as well. Their latest disc (and probably last, unfortunately, as the group members have hit their separate trails to move on to other musical pastures), Trial by Fire, continues their tradition of folksy PBR and cigarettes-flavored tunes led by singer Abigail Henderson’s southern-fried vocals and DJ Clem’s matching guitar work.

In an age where all the good honky-tonks seem long gone (remember how the Outhouse in Lawrence used to rock before it turned into a ‘Titty bar?), the Junction kept a lot of drunk blue-collar boys happy for a while, with a “Welcome home, cuz!” appeal that made them one of the funniest live bands in recent KC history. Now go buy some of their CDs instead of another lap dance, cowboy. —Brandon Whitehead

Enrique Iglesias
7 - Interscope Records

Six albums spanning three languages. Five platinum or higher; the other nearing platinum. One of People magazine’s 50 most beautiful people. An extravagant Super Bowl performance in 2000. A steamy scene with Anna Kournikova in his "Hero" video. What does Enrique Iglesias not have going for him?

Iglesias’ smooth, striking voice and the fast Latin pop rhythm mixed in with a few ballads make 7 a success from all sides. The album also includes one Spanish song, the bonus track "Adicto."

Self-proclaimed as his most personal album yet, Iglesias co-wrote all of the songs included on 7 — a first for his English repertoire. However, every song on the album has recurring themes on a spectrum from disenchanted longing to animated love. But of course, if I looked anything like him, that would be the one thing on my mind as well. —Jessica Chapman

Campfire Girls
Tell Them Hi - Interscope Records

Second Chance might have been a more appropriate title for Campfire Girls new album. The group started out in the early ’90s in a haze of alternative rock and drug excess, which quickly crumbled the bands original signing with Interscope. The bands second chance doesn’t seem to be wasted so far.

Tell Them Hi is littered with tight melodies and musical hooks that draw a listener in. The album is co-produced by another born again, and again, and again drug addict, Scott Weiland. Weiland’s influence is undeniable but not unwelcome. Songs such as “Make It” and “Pedestal” undeniably have Weiland’s touch but other songs such as “Junk Man” and “Someday” have a sound distinctly away from his control.

The album makes the progression from moshing good tunes to reflective ballads seamlessly and certainly reflects the band’s early roots during an alternative-influenced period as distortion pedal work abounds. —Justin McBee

Ryan Adams
Love is Hell, pt. 1 - Lost Highway Records

Before he went solo, Ryan Adams was best known as a member of once red-hot Whiskytown, which in ‘98 became yet another victim of the cannibalism of the major labels, much to the lament of many alt-country fans.

Love is Hell, pt. 1, at just eight songs, is only an EP, but with a 35-minute playing time you won’t really feel stood up or blown off or anything. This is generally called a “maturing artist” album, which really means that it’s a collection of laid-back love songs, bluesy folk and country that, despite it’s quality, will hardly register a blip on the MTV video screens.

Assuming the presumed “” will continue the explorations of a musician’s screwed-up relationships (and isn’t THAT just fascinating...), there’s no love lost in this music. After all, part of growing up is learning to take the hell that love often gives you (or you give yourself...) and learning to make some music out of it — and playin’ the gui-tar real purdy don’t hurt either. —Brandon Whitehead

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