Once in a great while, it happens...
A young, prodigious musical talent emerges, compelling you to intensely feel, think and respond.
You're deeply touched by songs that peel away the layers of love lost or found (or distorted) and simultaneously amazed at the tremendous vocal and stylistic range.
From sensuous acoustic to gritty homicidal rockabilly---- from straight-ahead rock to steamy bossanova--- from swingin' 13 bar blues to hysterically dead-on country satire--- you're moving through a rich emotional journey highlighted by several surprising twists and turns.
You're profoundly struck by the depth and wisdom shown by someone who's only 22 years old. And, most of all, you're enthralled by that voice---- The passion.... The strength... The conviction... The versatility.
Once in a great while, it happens...and now it happens to be Amanda Richards and her debut CD "Not Always Sexy."
The first track, "All The Way to the Bottom," is a punchy, wryly ironic rocker about the vagaries of life with a manic depressive:
"Arms spread wide...
If we believe, we can fly...
All the way to the bottom...
‘Cause we've been deceived by gravity."
The second track, "Magnum 45," is a rhythmic, sinister and homicidal Rockabilly centered upon the revenge of a woman who's more than a little ticked off with the unsatisfying outcome of a one-night stand.
Each track showcases the many intriguing facets of Amanda--- a penchant for great musical hooks; deft lyric writing from an often-uncommon perspective; and that wonderfully expressive voice pulling you in close to each story-song.
"Share the Load" travels in a totally different direction---- it's an acoustic ballad featuring a plea for romantic and universal love. The romantic yearning is powerful, and the vision is for a complete and deep love... mutual, committed and everlasting.
"Share The Load" is loaded with questions--
"Ever gonna find someone...
Who can bear the weight I feel?"
"Wouldn't it be great to have a lover
Who'd be in it for the long run?"
"Wouldn't it be great to have a lover
Who'd sing this song?"
Amanda's soulful, soaring vocals make you want to search with her for answers.
The title track of "Not Always Sexy" is a mid-tempo folk-pop melody that goes straight to your heart with something universal and universally painful-- the withering of passion in a relationship:
"Now that the roses have died...
Will your sweet kisses subside?
And are the kind words whispered in the dark…
No more, no more, no more?"
Amanda's voice combines sadness and resignation with a strength that comes from embracing love and the loved one and not wanting to let either go:
"I can't help the way that I am.
I wish that things were like the way they began…
Love's not always sexy
But it's always real."
How very true.
"Cool Waters" is built around a sensual "love and the ocean" simile and showcases Amanda's remarkable vocal range. From a lush, ethereal beginning, Amanda leads you into her forceful chorus about what it takes to fall (or dive) in love:
"I'm not afraid
To get my feet wet.
I'm not afraid
To get over my head.
I'm not afraid
To go off the deep end.
I'm not afraid..."
"Cool Waters" ebbs and flows between the delicate and the demonstrative---just like falling in love often does.
"That Much to Me" is an acoustic ode to a love relationship's complexity. As is the case often throughout "Not Always Sexy," Amada fiercely maintains her love and her optimism in the most trying of situations in a way that's eminently empowering and resonant.
"Cookies and Whiskey" is absolutely outstanding! It's a total delight! This song is hysterical country comedy.
"Cookies and Whiskey" contorts the "drinking and lonesome" mentality of many country songs and morphs it into a most unique breed of self-pity and self-indulgence. "Cookies and Whiskey" is one wickedly perfect satire:
"Cookies and whiskey
Donuts and beer
I love you darlin'
And I wish you were here.
But I'll drown my sorrows
In pastries and booze...
I've got a big ass
And bad gas
And heartbroken blues."
"Love's Gonna Shine" is a sprightly, upbeat 13 bar blues with a swinging bass line.
And, "Love's Gonna Shine" is one dramatic "mood elevator"--- instantly uplifting and inspiring. And, "Love's Gonna Shine" gives you another opportunity to be impacted and impressed even further by Amanda's wide-ranging talent and her fervent belief in the redemptive power of love.
"Try It Again" is a bluesy, haunting bossanova about Amanda's relentless pursuit of love and forgiveness in spite of previous pain and deception. Yes, for those who love to "peel away the layers"--- dig in:
"Maybe when she hurts you all over again
You'll come crawlin' back to your old friend.
You hurt me before
But I'd try it again
All for the love of you."
"Close To Me" give you another tale from the dark side--- this time, it's a stalker's point of view.Nail-biting percussion gives "Close To Me" an eerie, more jagged edge:
"There's no articulation
Of anything we feel.
And there's nothing to suggest
That this is even real."
Hey, pull down the shades and double-lock the doors.
"Oasis" is a thought-provoking ballad comparing two viable choices for love while affirming that things aren't always what they seem. As you know only too well--- when it comes to love:
"It's so hard to choose between
An oasis and a dream..."
"Oasis" is sure to stir your head and heart.
"What I Need" is a sweet, delicate and sentimental love song that closes out the CD.
Amanda, while clearly enjoying the physical part of the relationship, yearns for the other crucial aspects of love to make it all complete:
"Your body's been
Like a haven for me.
But your love
Is what I need."
Amanda Richards' CD "Not Always Sexy" is truly a fascinating journey from beginning to end--- a journey that grows richer and deeper with repeated listenings. It's easy to envision "Cookies and Whiskey" becoming a huge hit on Country Radio and a favorite of Morning Radio Comedy Shows. But, of course, the CD is not all "pastries and booze." Every track on "Not Always Sexy" is strong and stands on its own as well as being an integral part of the whole CD.
Once in a great while, it happens--- a young, prodigious musical talent emerges, compelling you to intensely feel, think and respond. Listen closely to Amanda Richards' "Not Always Sexy," and thoroughly enjoy the debut of an ascending star.