DIARY - 23 /11/ 2008 - RONNI RAE RIVERS CD REVIEW
WHOLE HEART TO GIVE (Shock-Arts WA)
DRINKING, CHEATING AND MAMA
said God please take back these presents/ cause the only things I want
are for Daddy to stop drinking and for mama to come home." - Things
I Want - Ronni Rae Rivers-Bruce Holloway-Colin Street.
Rae Rivers has impeccable genetics for the artistic bent necessary
to fuel the staples of her genre.
The Perth singer mined the motherlode of a well-traversed terrain
to reap roughage from the frailties of human nature on her second
album, cut in Sydney and the NSW Central Coast.
She milks melancholia from a few little things like drinking, death,
ruptured romance, philandering philistines and a true love or two.
surprisingly, her pinnacle is the pathos primed Things I Want -
one of five originals on a 13-song disc.
This was not a yuletide release but it's the flip side of Christmas that
makes it such a poignant parable.
"It was a silent night and nothing stirred/ as she crept down to
the tree/ a log still crackled in the fireplace/ he watched his little
The tear-drenched daughter makes a passionate plea for her sire to stop
drinking and her mother to return.
Well, not even little girls always get what they want - mama is still
in heaven, not the other doomsday domicile, with no existential exit.
But poppa, "lost in a whiskey memory with a fade photograph,"
takes the pledge.
Yes, they still write songs like this - but not many score airplay.
It's unlikely this is autobiographical so let's climb the tree - family
not Christmas - for insight.
Rivers' dad is a Texas raised military man with Irish and Cherokee blood.
He met her mum - an actress of Welsh and Scottish descent - in Sydney.
Ronni was born in Sydney, raised in Perth and Texas, and graduated from
university with a degree in Astrophysics.
Now, the singer's sire might share Cherokee and Texas traits with Billy
Joe Shaver but, unlike the Waco wild man, it's more likely he turns the
other cheek rather than shoots bar flies in the cheek.
I hear your voice on the telephone/ it's me and the moon and we're both
alone/ miles through my hair and the road under my feet/ 300 miles of
thoughts to go/ I won't lose my soul, I'm not waitin' on lonely, lonely's
waitin' on me." - Waiting on Lonely - Ronni Rae Rivers-Clementine.
also takes a stroll down desolation row, perhaps astrophysical, to
create the haunting feel of Waiting On Lonely - perhaps a sibling
song of the vitriolic album finale Stranded.
It's quite clear the villain is a philanderer, not a stamp collector,
as the female lead throws away his car keys and suggests he change
his mode of transportation to kite or thumb.
And there's a death driven, tossed side salad - "you bought the
farm/ I bought your lines."
But let's revert to the album entrée - Whole Heart To Give
- where the character deals in tough love to banish her beau.
is half empty - not half full - so she pours her lover down the sink to
ensure his eternal freedom.
It's a stark contrast to the sentiments of The Fire In Your Eyes where
the lovelorn lass chances her cold, cold heart on a new brightly burning
It's a test of blind faith as Rivers sings: "I think I've come too
far to turn around and go back now."
The singer's co-writer is veteran Music City chart topping hit songsmith
one good thing about a devil-eyed Joe, you know/ bad love cheatin man
only makes you stronger/ rather be gun shy next time than holding on."
- Running On Fumes - Tia Sellers-Clay Mills-Melanie Torres.
where we introduce Rivers covers - albeit a nice little earner for expatriate
Australasian Barry Coburn whose publishing princess Tia Sellers is one
of the writers of the riveting road tune Running On Fumes.
Rivers is convincing in her role as the no longer patient cheating and
drinking victim who decamps from her tormentor in a nocturnal retreat
down a two-lane dirt road on a wing and prayer for the next Texaco.
She covers all shades of romance in the regret fuelled ode to hedonism
in Burned Too Bright, more cheating in Look It Up, sharing
heartache and soul fuel in power ballad Can You Let Somebody Else Be
Strong, with Randall Waller the duet partner.
I Would Want To and I Think Of You provide a delicious déjà
vu dose of nostalgia and Broken is a lachrymose lesson in reverse
"I know my heart will mend/ but until then/ the part of me that hides
that hurt/ doesn't work."
And, for those long suffering gals at home on the range, there's another
babes night-in anthem Cowboys Come Home.
The latter and I Would Want To gain traction with accompanying
video clips, on CMC and Nu Country TV over summer.
And, for those, wishing to check out musicians it's a Trans-Pacific mating.
Randy Kohrs added dobro-background vocals, Tim Crouch mandolin and fiddle
and Wes Hightower background vocals in Nashville.
Prolific Ted Mulry gang refugee, Herm Kovac produced and engineered the
disc in Sydney with a vast cast - guitarists Mark Punch, Sturt French,
James Gillard and Waller, Ian Lees on bass, drummers Glen Wilson and Mal
Lancaster, Clayton Dolley organ-piano, Bill Risbey piano, Rod McCormack
banjo, pedal steel guitarist Michel Rose and others.
And, of course, Rivers also plays fiddle and harmonises.
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