Image © Dehisce Records (UK) 2003
(updated 08 December 2004) The most noticeable maturing onThe Disconnection (Dehisce Records (UK) DEHIS CD 001, 2003), Carina’s second album, from her debut The First Blood Mystery is a far greater vocal control and confidence, evident right from the off, and the song writing shows far greater melodic awareness--there are terrific choruses on this album, something her debut lacked.
One of the most attractive aspects of the songs is the sense that the words and music are one entity--the sum is far greater than the parts, that the emotion of the whole is more important than the specific words she uses to express it. It doesn’t always make for easy listening and there are times where the words don’t sit comfortably with the melody. That's not to say there aren’t moments of lyrical clarity and insight, for example in 'Paris' she sings "I know broken bones don't come close to the pain of hidden truths." and the chorus of "Into My Blood," "I wait all my life just for the rush, the passing of fire into my blood." The unconventional structure of some of her song writing suggests that the songs are dictating to her how they should be written, and sensibly, she’s not arguing. The best way to listen to Carina is simply to go with her feel and emotions and not to try to separate the words from the music.
In spite of the distinctive jazz style of the vocals on the first track "Shoot," and a number of the other songs, the powerful drum opening is an indication that it's rock influences hold sway on The Disconnection. The first single taken from the album, "Into My Blood," is a stunning song, boasting a powerful, raw sound, a tremendous vocal performance and a chorus that's instantly branded into you brain. This is followed by "Lacuna," another superb song with the sparse drum/discordant piano opening leading to a memorable, brass-soaked chorus. Great rhythm, great feel--though the guitar solo seems unnecessary and ponderous.
"Paris" has some punchy offbeat brass giving a lovely ska feel and the French capital features again in "Monument," when again the driving brass is used thoughtfully. “Motel 24” is a beautifully arranged slower track, with a sparse melodic chorus and some well thought-out dynamics. Simon Smith's bass is well to the fore in the mix. "Overcome" is an acoustic based song with brass giving way to strings. It takes a while for this song to find its feet, but when it does, it moves with a slinky, sexy rhythm.
"Sit Tight" is the most atmospheric track on the album, opening with an ambient feel. It’s a very thoughtful piece of music, wonderfully constructed. Together with "Into My Blood," it's probably the highlight of the album. After the complexity of the previous track, the sparseness and simplicity of the closing song "Elegy," reminds us Carina built her live reputation very much on a 'girl and guitar' basis. There’s some sweet harmonies and an overall feel that brings to mind Rickie Lee Jones--though the choice of clarinet for the solo struck a false note--maybe the flute, as an echo from the first album, or a soloist from the brass section, would have been a wiser choice.
Overall, this one of the strongest albums I've heard in a long time, and with it, Carina Round can stake a claim to be the leading British singer/song writer (of either sex). And there's still much more to come. Listen to this album. It's brilliant. -- Jamie Field