Kari Rueslåtten – “Time to Tell” (2014)

Label: Despotz Records

Review by Alessandra Cognetta

Kari Rueslåtten is back with a new album, “Time to Tell”, after a long break from music that started back in 2005. It’s an all-acoustic album and, as Kari herself stated, it goes “back to the core of songwriting”. The announcement was preceded by the release of a cover song, “Why So Lonely”, whom many of you will remember as one of the early masterpieces by the doom metal band The 3rd and the Mortal. Kari worked with Nightwish mastermind Tuomas Holopainen on the acoustic rearrangement and the result is a song that manages to sound fresh and original while still retaining the nostalgic feeling of the “old days”.

The album starts off with the title track, a perfect set up for the rest of the “story” we’re going to hear. It’s a short piece for piano and voice and it describes the core of Kari Rueslåtten‘s new work: personal, heartfelt and intimate, but never detached from the listener, who is constantly involved. “Time to Tell” fades off to introduce the acoustic guitars of “Hide Underneath Bridges”, where the sound is enriched by a light choir to support Kari‘s wonderful voice. There’s something unique to Kari‘s voice that I find hard to explain, besides the interpretation skills and the technique. Her singing always feels true and close, honest, a bit like having a conversation with an old friend. It’s a distinctive style and, I think, a natural talent, being capable of portraying the imagery of the song and making it understandable the way she does. The third track, “Hold On”, further confirms what I just said. Kari delivers the joyful feeling along with the music and her voice soars with the greatest ease in the chorus. “Paint The Rainbow Grey” follows this trend, this time in a more gloomy tone and it’s definitely one of the highlights, where the instruments take a step back to let us focus completely on the vocals.

“Rainy Days Ahead” and the aforementioned “Why So Lonely” lead us directly to “Shoreline”, one of the most peculiar songs from “Time to Tell”, with its slow tempo and the guitars that fluctuate between folk and country. Definitely one of the tracks that stand out the most, but not the only one. “Waltz Across The Sky” is another surprise: as the title suggests, it has the vibe of a waltzer but it also manages to incorporate nicely the other elements of Kari‘s music, all in an acoustic setting. “Wintersong” is the second single and it’s once again demonstration of how well the combination of piano&voice works for this album. This musical journey is closed by “Stay Right Here” and “Only You Know”, a sweet love song with a great instrumental outro and a confession set to music, with lyrics that express doubt and uncertainty for the future, respectively. Both feature prominent electric guitars, with a dark, mellow sound that fits the atmosphere of the whole album and adds another level to the already great arrangements.

This is an excellent comeback for Kari‘s 20th anniversary in music and a great musical statement on its own. It provides all the best elements from Kari‘s past works and yet it adds something new without making the two sides sound disjointed from one another. Kari‘s back and I’d definitely keep an eye on whatever comes next, because this is without a doubt one of the most pleasant surprises of 2014.

Rating – 93/100

 

Tracklist

  1. Time to Tell
  2. Hide Underneath Bridges
  3. Hold On
  4. Paint the Rainbow Grey
  5. Rainy Days Ahead
  6. Why So Lonely
  7. Shoreline
  8. Waltz Across the Sky
  9. Wintersong
  10. Stay Right Here
  11. Only You Know

 

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