Elaine Summers | Sparkler

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Rock: 60's Rock Rock: Americana Moods: Type: Lyrical
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by Elaine Summers

This album, with its strong songcraft and layers of guitars, should appeal to fans of smart, modern pop songwriters such as Sheryl Crow or Liz Phair. Featuring Pete Droge's band, the Sinners.
Genre: Rock: 60's Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Fade Away
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3:07 $0.99
2. Ice Thru My Fingers
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3:06 $0.99
3. Puzzle Man
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3:56 $0.99
4. Took a Lot of Time
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2:53 $0.99
5. Blown Away
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3:33 $0.99
6. Just Can't Take It Anymore
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2:37 $0.99
7. Love Could Be Gone
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4:49 $0.99
8. Dream Song
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3:41 $0.99
9. Come Around
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2:56 $0.99
10. No Good Anymore
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4:07 $0.99
Available as MP3, MP3 320, and FLAC files.


Album Notes
Elaine Summers has been a member of Pete Droge's band since 1993, so it seemed only fitting that she use his band, the Sinners, on her latest record, Sparkler. This is the second record of Elaine's that Pete Droge has produced. The pair's first collaboration, Transplanting, came out on Stone Gossard's now defunct Loosegroove Records in 1997.

While Summers says that she wanted Sparkler to have a 60s sound, it is not an exercise in retro rock. The strong songcraft and layers of guitars should appeal to fans of smart modern pop songwriters such as Sheryl Crow or Liz Phair. The record's only cover, "Just Can't Take It Anymore," is a recently unearthed Gram Parsons song that is given a Nick Lowe-type pub rock arrangement. Elaine's version is the first cover of this obscure song.

Filmmaker Cameron Crowe asked Elaine and Pete to appear in his Golden Globe- Academy Award- winning movie ALMOST FAMOUS. The two play singers, loosely based on Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, and sing Pete's original composition "Small Time Blues." Their entire performance of the song is a DVD "special feature" on the Director's Edition - Almost Famous: The Bootleg Cut.

Many of Elaine's songs have been featured in film and television, an area where she continues to focus her attention. She was recently enlisted by Pete Droge as executive producer for his musical scores in two feature length films, Catching Out and Tattoo, A Love Story.


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strong 60's influence ala mid-period Rolling Stones and Faces
Washing State singer/songwriter Summers - also known as Pete Droge's backing vocalist - strikes out on her own on this, her third CD, and it's a good one. With Droge producing and backing her up on every song in some capacity, it's clear that Summers is a burgeoning talent in her own right on an LP of bluesy, rockin' pop with a very strong 60's influence ala mid-period Rolling Stones and Faces. Pay attention to this one! Ben Szporluk


Summers is a fine pop-rock writer and compelling performer
From backup to up front: Summers lights 'Sparkler'

One of the many things that has made the music of former Portland singer-songwriter Pete Droge such a treat over the years has been the backing vocals of Elaine Summers, Droge's partner on the bandstand and off. While never calling too much attention to itself, Summers' pleasantly grainy alto slid in behind Droge with exquisite harmonies and descants, adding an essential warmth, depth and intimacy to the sound.

Summers is fine pop-rock writer and compelling performer in her own right. So it's a welcome change to hear her in the starring role on her new disc, "Sparkler," and fitting, too, that Droge slips smoothly into the supporting role, his voice providing the same cushioning effect she's given him.

Droge is much more than a backup singer here; as on Summers' 1997 album, "Transplanting," he's producer, engineer and instrumentalist. But rather than splitting most of the playing between the two of them, this time they've enlisted members of Droge's top-notch band, the Sinners, plus Northwest stalwarts including guitarist Ian Moore, bassist Fred Trujillo and pedal steel player Paul Brainard. Instead of the spare, back-porch charm of "Transplanting," the new album sports an energetic yet layered and finely detailed sound, with everything from sitar and harmonium to a vintage synthesizer to jingle bells and basmati rice (!) popping up in the mix.

Stylistically, there are cool hints of late-1960s and early '70s pop, in the driving version of Gram Parsons' "Just Can't Take It Anymore," the folksy innocence of "Took a Lot of Time," and the proto-psychedelic flourishes of "Dream Song," full of bent guitar notes and percussion effects, and "Come Around," with its echoey, fuzz-toned vocal. Setting aside the retro vibe, the lovely ballad "Love Could Be Gone," a sweet alt-country cautionary tale about taking a good thing for granted, and the mid-tempo, Sheryl Crow-like "Ice Thru My Fingers" are the sort of smart, heartfelt, pop perfect for an adult-oriented station such as KINK-FM. Throughout, Summers sounds soulful and wise, with a comfort in the lead role that teamwork can provide. This record deserves to be heard, and Summers deserves the fans it should bring her.

Copyright 2002 Oregon Live. All Rights Reserved.


This album boasts a barrage of classic, textbook power-pop songs
Every now and then you come across a CD that demands you to take notice. You wonder, "where the hell did this artist come from and why haven't I heard of this artist before?"SPARKLER, by Elaine Summers is just such a disc. Of course I LOVE power-pop and I love this CD. But, It's not that clear cut because I've seen a lot of power-pop discs come through the office of EAR CANDY that better serve as a beer coaster. This album boasts a barrage of classic, textbook power-pop songs. Brilliant in their catchiness and their execution. And if that wasn't enough, the record's only cover, "Just Can't Take It Anymore", is a recently unearthed Gram Parson's song. Power-Pop AND Gram Parsons? I'm in Heaven.

Some reviews have compared Elaine to Sheryl Crow and Liz Phair, but I find Elaine to be more of a purist when it comes to Power-pop. Sure, the album is reminiscent of the golden-age of the 60's, but SPARKLER is no mere excercise in retro-rock. Before I knew it, I'd played the whole thing three times. This is definately my happy "summer of 2002" disc! Pure Power-pop ecstasy that will have you humming the songs all day! Damn, I sure hope she's touring.

cloud nine and cloud seven

We love "Sparkler"!
Internet Music Radio, "Gone Fishing for Blue Skies", loves the world of Elaine Summers.