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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Candice Russell - So Much More

Candice Russell - So Much More
2013, Candice Russell
Candice Russell is a 21 year old singer/songwriter for Tualatin, Oregon.  The last time you saw her was on Hollywood Week of American Idol season 11.  In spite of getting sent home early, Russell has continued to refine her craft.  Shortly thereafter she met producer Dave Lubben (Kutless).  With Lubben and her brother, Aaron Russell, Candice wrote the ten songs that comprise her debut album, So Much More.
Russell sets off with the bubblegum country/pop of "Too Into You", a catchy but overproduced attempt to gain airplay at the artist's own expense. Producer Lubben utilizes significant vocal effects here and throughout the album, making Russell sound like a technical creation rather than a human being. "Escape" is a middle of the road pop ballad that leaves Russell stranded in an emotional and musical wasteland. The run-on feel of the chorus is maudlin at best. Russell picks up the pace a bit with "Good Luck With That". A catchy arrangement and a catchy bridge buoy the song, but the repetitive chorus drowns the listener.
Russell is joined by an unnamed male vocalist on the sweet duet "Loved By You". The song is a gem, inspired by the life-long love of her grandparents. This is a potential hit in spite and arrangement that is too present and too full. "My Friend" is a song full of need and longing that would work much better Ina stripped down arrangement. "Remember" is a down-tempo dream pop number with an ethereal feel. 
"So Much More" explores the journey of becoming who you want to be and not giving up in the face of criticism. This is perfunctory pop music, canned for pop radio but without the spark to catch on. "Someday" is a solid piece of songwriting with a memorable chorus. It's a song of overcoming and moving on, and Russell is convincing here.  Russell heads back into 1980's bubblegum pop with "Summer Nights", a pro-forms pop tune that's solid but a little too much like too many other things already out there. So Much More closes with "When I See You", a cookie cutter pop ballad. Russell means well and sings from the heart, but there's little originality or energy here. 
Candice Russell gives her best on So Much More, but never fully engages the listener in the process. It's hard to tell throughout the album how much of the vocals are really here and how much are courtesy of production tricks. The album is wholly over-produced, with electronics overcoming any human element. It would be nice to hear Russell’s voice in a stripped down setting. So Much More aims for a marketable sound, yet the heart that is so obvious in Russell’s lyrics can’t overcome all of the electronic paraphernalia that went into crafting the sound.
Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)
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