Year of the Album — #037
Randi Russo – “Fragile Animal” (2011, Hidden Target Recordings)
From the opening strains of “Get Me Over” I knew that Randi Russo’s Fragile Animal was going to be a welcome oasis of 90s-era nostalgic alternative. With smooth vocals that immediately conjure thoughts of Patti Smith and Natalie Merchant, it doesn’t take long to realize Russo is one talented performer. And Fragile Animal is one of those indie gems you’ll immediately want to spread the word about.
She’s also smart to surround herself with talented musicians who have the chops to pull off her subtle blend of indie pop and alternative. These are songs which build their melodies the right way, focusing on balance and structure, each track a subtle blending of instruments and voice. The result is a decidedly three-dimensional sound, one which is distinctively hers even as she pays homage to artists who have clearly influenced her.
Even on songs with more of a punk edge – “Alienation” is a strong example – Russo avoids becoming overindulgent, choosing to keep her vocals controlled and in focus. “I have trouble making amends and I can’t break the isolation,” she sings. “I’m feeling the weight of expectations; alienation is my protection.” She’s backed here by moody bass and a frenetic guitar solo which juxtapose her seemingly calm vocals with the outward aural turmoil.
In the end, there’s nothing fragile about this excellent effort. The weight of expectations hasn’t kept Russo from creating a third album which proves she’s got the talent to make her own way in the genre. She builds on her influences to stake a claim all her own, and the album shines for it. It definitely comes with my full recommendation.
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For more information on Randi Russo’s music, visit http://www.randirusso.com