In the first six tracks of the new recording from North Carolina-based Nu-Blu, intense is the watchword. Only track five, the somewhat lilting and light “How Many Rivers” by Gerald Ellenburg and Shawn Lane and sung by guitarist Daniel Routh, breaks that mood and gives the listener a little bit of a breather.
Otherwise, the listener is faced with the intense quality of bassist Carolyn Routh’s lead vocal on the propulsive opener “The Bridges That You’ve Burned.” On that one, written by Carl Jackson, her voice is sharp, almost piercing. She has a point to make and she makes it. Next is the message of “A Lot More Love,” a slow, contemporary country-tinted plea for understanding and tolerance. Carolyn’s lead is more yearning and soft, but the song’s aim is anything but, demanding in its intensity. That’s followed by the double-time feel of “Still Small Voice,” one of those “I will survive” type songs that requires a certain martial spirit to put it across. That Carolyn has. Then there is the sadness of a mother left behind at “640 Battlefield Drive” as her two sons go off to war and don’t return. The violent undercurrent of the ominous “Troublemaker” seems to be about the results of battering women.
The intensity all but disappears on tracks seven through eleven. With the exception of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” which brings with it a certain overly-forced edge, the songs are all tempered. “A Fool And Her Heart,” a Cajun drum-propelled song, is the best of them—fun and free-wheeling. It stands, along with any of the front six, as the best of this recording. (www.nu-blu.com)BW