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CD REVIEW: Chione - A Better Day
By Ashley Petkovski - 08/28/2002 - 12:58 AM EDT

Artist: Chione
Album: A Better Day
CD Review: Kicking your record off with one of the most expressive voices to come out of the U.K. in the last twenty years, strong guitars, and rhythms almost funkier than George Clinton in a mod suit, makes you a band with a foot in the territory of greatness. Adding potent harmonies, sharp lyrics, stylish melodies and a little bit of sonic Latin flair makes you Chione, the natural step above greatness. Sonic perfection with fancy cover art.

Hailing from Liverpool, Chione are Natalie, Tom and Karl, three musicians that manage to create the sort of soulful, inspired sound that exudes a sophisticated cool. From the moment that I slid the CD into the stereo system, I knew what I was in for. It’s instantly apparent that the band plays beautifully off of one another, uniting their strengths and putting their hearts into every note, every melody, every moment. “A Better Day” is three striking songs of solid engineering, compelling musicianship and songwriting, and a strapping, original style.

Now, I’m not a big fan of writers who put excess focus on the lead singer, but alas, I’m about to lose some respect for myself. Natalie’s voice and delivery are the backbone of Chione. Passionate, independent, articulate, slinky and sexy, Natalie’s vocals embody the spirits of her influences. From the king of passion, Marvin Gaye, to the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin, Natalie’s voice blends their shared essence with the serene, sexual edge of Roxy Carpenter and Johnette Napolitano, to form a surprisingly distinct tone. Every melody is diverse and gripping. Guitar chords and lines dart fervently around each other, making for the sort of sound that reveals something new with each listen. The rhythm holds the heart of each track, giving Chione a sort of groove that feels completely theirs.

“Nothing To Prove” is a graceful, elegant stab at the self-absorbed lover. An artful take on the “who ya think ya talkin’ to, buddy” song, “Nothing to Prove” is fueled by lush acoustic guitar and an up-tempo melody. It leaves the words to deliver the kiss-offs, the most passionately delivered of which declares: “You put our love on the shelf/ so go marry yourself.”

“If We Learn” which lends the EP its title, is a sweet song musically comprised mainly of acoustic guitar, is another account of love, this one giving off a slight glimmer of hope, and an energy booster of a decrescendo-crescendo towards the end that gets better and better with each listen.

The first track, “I’m A Woman” is, to be perfectly honest, what every “independent woman” song without a distinct political message (that’s different territory and, my friends, not to be tampered with) should strive to be. Celebrating her sexuality, her strength and her confidence, Natalie puts any and all social pressures (from lovers to leerers) in their collective place, with Tom and Karl backing it up with pure soul.

In the end, that soul is the core of the record. Musically and lyrically, it’s all about the soul. Without it, this EP could potentially slip into the pile of “all gloss, no substance,” but thankfully, it doesn’t. Not even close. Held up with style, passion and sheer talent, Chione have this whole music thing down, and dammit, it’s down with soul!


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