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Album Review: Carrie Biell – We Get Along

The latest release from Seattle’s Carrie Biell is a ten song album entitled We Get Along and it rates as arguably her finest moment yet. Her songwriting powers, especially, are reaching a point of refinement that sets her on a higher level than others working today. She falls into the Americana field, overall, and attentive listeners will hear country and folk threads running throughout these songs. There’s a pop sensibility at work here as well – Biell’s craftsmanship in this particular area is one of the strongest qualities We Get Along possesses.

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The album’s first song, “Come By”, sets the template for everything that follows. Biell’s songs are patient and slowly unfolding affairs, typically built up from an acoustic guitar, with light orchestration. This doesn’t mean that there’s a classical influence heard on We Get Along but, instead, you can hear the sensitive weaving of disparate instruments into a greater whole. Her vocal puts the crowning touch on it all – considered, yet passionate, and full of longing.

Her use of double-tracked vocals during “No Kind of Motive” enhances its dream-like aura. This song practically glows with steady white light and her vocals echo through the arrangement. This is, arguably, Biell at her most poetic – not so much in the words, though they are fine here as elsewhere, but rather in the overall sonic experience of this performance. “Better Part of Monday” is a delightful track highlighting her talent for taking common turns of phrase and building an imaginative song from it. Many of We Get Along’s defining elements are present here as well.

“What Good Does It Do?” is another of the album’s finest moments. The music and arranging are, once again, on point, but it’s her singing that scores one resounding victory after another. She double tracks her vocals wherever she deems it necessary, but it’s when her voice is alone and at least relatively unfettered by technological assistance that it shines brightest. Some of the best electric guitar playing on the album comes with its title track but you’ll have to hang around for the whole song to get the full effect. It’s well worth your time. It’s one of the most fully-realized compositions on the album and boasts considerable commercial potential.

 

 

Another peak arrives with “California Baby”. This, the opener, and title song, are the three tracks best embodying Biell’s ability to play to a wide audience without sacrificing substance. Her songwriting has a sharp talent for portraiture. The “characters” listeners encounter over the course of the album’s ten songs have distinctive voices and this song has one of the most memorable. The touches of organ heard during “Right Kind of Love” juxtapose nicely against another heartfelt vocal. It’s musically more stripped back than earlier tracks but doesn’t sound out of place and, again, has a rock solid acoustic foundation. We Get Along is a release brimming with diverse riches and will find an eager audience. Its redemptive and life-affirming aspects are satisfying for all but the most jaded of listeners.

 

Loren Sperry

 

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