CD REVIEW: City of Roses – Do Whatcha Do
By Ben Ohmart - 06/10/2001 - 02:15 PM EDT
Artist: Band: City of Roses
Album: Do Whatcha Do
Getting into Do Whatcha Do is a trick, so be careful not to judge all 43 minutes and 11 tracks by the lead-in title song, ‘Do Whatcha Do.’ This little bluegrass, slow country hop is only one façade, and not the dominate grin either. And yet you’ve gotta love the mosey that gets you into the disc. ‘You can’t take a moment back / Time won’t let you get away with that / And as far as I can tell / Heaven’s just this side of hell / If it’s all the same between you and me / Why should I be someone else if I can’t be me / Do whatcha do with whatcha got / Let the rest be.’
For me the cd begins with ‘Eleanor Hill,’ but then I’m a big time fan of harmony singing. Imagine CS&N with the steel guitar strings of early Beatles and you’ll be much pleased with this 2 minute, easy going piece of Disneyworld. Far from fluff, this is a gentle portrait offset by vocals that are sharp and lovingly intertwined. ‘Eleanor Hill lives alone on a farm / Left by her father / She lies when she says that the work is enough / To keep her happy in this life, I don’t believe her.’ Love the way the last note is held and dispelled in stereo.
For the pop minded comes ‘What’s It Gonna Take,’ which, like most of the album, captures a live sound in a studio setting. Don’t know how they manage it, but the soft rock beat and guitar/piano combo makes this one a hit for the easy listening crowd. It’s also one of the few that the trio pens together, which should tell ya something, Roses. ‘Day comes up, you’re out the door / You’re in the light but you need more / It’s like a thousand times before / Deep inside you have a pain / And when the sun goes down again / A demon cries out in your veins / I hear it too, I see it get to you / And there’s nothing, nothing I can do.’
Don’t be fooled by the weighty substance of the lyrics. Our City is looking to pull you in, not down, and they’ve got their direction straight, regardless of what you think of anything tinged on Country’s genre.
Take ‘Squannacook Spring,’ and that lovely violin from Jake Armerding. Add in a 12 string guitar and supple harmonics, and it makes you just want to move to a mountain cabin with a long-life battery in the cd player. Inspirational. ‘I hear you in the springtime / I watch the way you carry life / Flowing from beginning to end.’ And I can hear the running creek myself. Carries you away with a clear view (no dirty water, no tourists). A new age soul with major chords from a pop era sadly closed now.
City of Roses contains all elements of Stephen Gilligan, Michelle Tanguay and Linda Picceri, each sporting a voice and guitar thru every track, giving you every ounce of the frolic and energy they brought with ‘em.
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