No doubt most people who read reviews think writing them is a dream job and outside of the no or little pay part, I suppose it can be. One bad album, though, can ruin your week, or at least a meal or two (unless you are one who jumps at the prospect of cutting out someone's heart and stomping on it publicly). Then again, one hitting the right chord can keep you high for days or even weeks. I'm a week into Charlotte Kendricks' North of New York" and thus far I'm plenty high with little chance of coming down soon.
I suppose you could label Kendrick an Americana-laced singer/songwriter, if labels be necessary, but let's toss that aside for just a moment. Truth be told, Charlotte Kendrick is Charlotte Kendrick, no more and no less. With very slightly textured mid-range voice, a very good one I might add, she lays her soul on the table. The theme is love and living, much as it was in the early seventies and the back-to-the-earth movement, handled here as well as I've heard it.
Kendricks' music snuggles up to my country rock heart in a way only a few have, most from the early country rock era. Recently, only Chris Berardo and the Desberardos have come close until now. Kendricks has an ease about her which is most welcome on a warm Spring day, doors and windows open to the world, but also welcome in the dead of winter, a warmth which could make a cold room comfortable. First track to last, she sits and sings her story, the world as seen through her eyes, yet universal.
If she were more over the top, Kendrick would fit Nashville to a 'T', but something about this album tells you that is not where she wants to be. She prefers White River Junction, Vermont and dollars to donuts, so would you. I know I do, so much that after hearing this I pulled out the atlas just to see if Charlotte Kendrick is, indeed, north of New York. She is. Feels Right tells me why. She wants to sleep at night. You have to hear it to understand.
Maybe if you heard this one track at a time, it wouldn't be all that impressive. I don't know. There is a flow here, a repeating theme which tends to build upon itself, track upon track. It is inner self, peace, nature, love. It is a light, country rocking whole you could throw between Pure Prairie League, Cowboy and Chris Berardo without, as they say in the disco business, killing the floor.
If Kendrick is the music, Dan Rowe is the rhythm. His production is understated, almost organic, as is his bass guitar and harmony vocal. In fact, the best tracks here are made better by Rowe's totally in the background vocals, just strong enough to make a difference but always in deference to Kendrick's lead. If they are not a team, they should be. They are obviously of the same fabric.
Bottom line here is that North of New York is deceptive. It is a classic country rock album in Americana clothing just waiting to be discovered. If you are a fan of those early country rockers mentioned, or have a hunger for some music along that line, introduce yourself. Have an atlas handy, though, because if Kendrick hits you like she did me, you too will have to know exactly where music this good is made. That would be White River Junction, my friend, in Vermont.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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