Elevate Difference

Look Ahead

Chrissy Coughlin’s sound is an amalgamation of pop, indie, and folk, but overall it’s good songwriting, and she switches styles with aplomb. “Back to You” starts the album out kicking; it’s a peppy, upbeat tune marked by a strong beat and understated organ. The lyrics of this toe-tapping power rock song are somewhat trite (“If I don’t turn around and stay I would be a fool/I’m coming back to you”), but it’s absolutely fun nevertheless. “Watch Your Step,” takes things in a totally different direction, with reflective lyrics and acoustic guitar and piano. The lyrics of this introspective tune, in which she voices her worries over a friend having a rough time, are thoughtful. “I know you’re used to flying/Now the curtains are drawn/How quick the daylight’s gone/And all you’ve got are the stars above/Tell me what you gonna do my friend?”

The standout track “Big Log” is a classic Southern rocker—a sultry ballad with a languid electric guitar, with tension bubbling beneath the surface. “Perfect Time” is another upbeat tune, again featuring organ. The message—take advantage of the present moment—is simple, but the straightforward melody and infectious rhythm make it a perfect sing-along. The autumnal “Wait for You” is among the most memorable tracks on the disc. It starts with a melancholy piano riff and slow guitar picking; ambiguous lyrics add to its appeal. We don’t know who Coughlin is waiting for or why, but her plaintive vocals hint at longing and desperation.

Coughlin tries her hand at jazz with Carlos Antonio Jobim's bossa nova classic “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Corcovado),” which features piano, cymbal washes, horns, and a long sax solo. The song showcases her husky, nuanced vocal, and her adventurous choice in covering this standard pays off. The disc concludes with “Honestly,” a straightforward tune about following one’s calling. The music perfectly fits Coughlin’s inspirational lyrics and it is a heartfelt, powerful end to the album.

Coughlin has been compared to a wide range of female singer-songwriters in the country, folk, and rock traditions, including Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams, Sarah McLachlan, Joni Mitchell, and Ricki Lee Jones. While traces of these artists’ influences can be found on her second album, what she really shares with them is a penchant for musical exploration and adventure, embracing multiple genres, and balancing them with wonderful results. She is at turns delicate and introspective, self-assured and in control, but she is always worth a listen.

Written by: Karen Duda, May 26th 2009