All it takes is 3 chords and a dream!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Review: Chrissy Coughlin - Look Ahead

Chrissy Coughlin - Look Ahead
2008, Chrissy Coughlin

Chrissy Coughlin calls wherever she happens to be her hometown. Having moved around a great deal as a child, Coughlin became adept at meeting new people and finding how situations work for her. This ease in transition comes across on her 2nd album, Look Ahead. Coughlin presents a musical traveling soul, with sounds/influences ranging from Sheryl Crow to Natalie Merchant to Lucinda Williams to Sarah McLachlan.

Look Ahead opens with Back To You, a delightful country rock tune built on a strong guitar hook and a snappy melody. From there Coughlin slides into Watch Your Step, a rootsy song born in dark tones that resolves into an airy melody and bright message. This one sounds like something Tom Petty and Sarah McLachlan might have written together if they were so inclined. Look Ahead is the mix-tape song on the disc, although it does get a little bogged down in itself. Big Log is a real treat, featuring Robert Cray style guitar playing and soulful vocals from Coughlin. Coughlin sounds very at home here, and her voice opens up with more color and nuance than we've heard to this point on the album.

Perfect Time may be the most commercial song on the album in spite of itself. It's a very straight forward rock tune with a clean melody line that sticks in your head. Wait For You is probably the most well-written song on Look Ahead. The juxtaposition of guitar, piano and voice here is quite striking, their mutual tension creates something greater than the sum of the parts. Coughlin is very courageous to take on Carlos Antonio Jobim's Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars (Corcovado). Not only courageous but successful. The tune is stylistically out of place here, but nonetheless a brilliant rendition, and makes you wonder if Coughlin might have a history (or future) singing jazz. The album closes out with Honestly, a pop confection that marks another divergence for Coughlin. It's a pleasant song that highlights the durability and reach of Chrissy Coughlin more than anything else.

Chrissy Coughlin brings a mixed and varied pallet of singing styles and vocal textures on Look Ahead. She appears to be able to sing most anything (well), and also displays a great sense of melody in her songwriting. A couple of songs on Look Ahead get a little bogged down in themselves, but on the whole it is a very solid album. It's a great rainy afternoon, snuggling on the couch music. It will fit well into your ears whether you like adult contemporary, country, light pop or rock. A strong effort.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Chrissy Coughlin at You can purchase a copy of Look Ahead at

No comments: