You may remember Carmen Rasmusen from the 2nd season of the
American Idol show where she was one of the top 10 finalists
along with Josh Gracin, Clay Aiken, and Rubin Studdard.
Rasmusen recently released her full length debut album Nothin'
Like The Summer on the indie label Lofton Creek Records. She is
one of my favorite singers with an upbeat step in her voice and a
good balance between delivering an enchanting feminine lilt and a
beefy texture in her registers, but the songs on her album don't take
advantage of her diversity or her strengths. The songs sound like
80's country selections that would have been typical of Patty Loveless,
K.T. Oslin, or Suzy Bogguss back in their heyday. This
is not to say that I am knocking down 80's country or these singers,
but Carmen Rasmusen can do better than country music that's been done
and dated. Loveless has certainly moved with the times, even making
songs that have more in common with the new grass generation than
with classic bluegrass, so for Rasmusen to sing songs that sound like
they were around the year she was born, 1985, simply makes her a chanteuse,
which does not do her singing justice.
From the beginning of the album, you can pick up that Rasmusen has
a pleasant style similar to Lila McCann but with a different
cachet. She has a tote full of cheerful country-pop melodies like
"Happy," "Stranded," "Love Will Wait,"
Shine," and "Your Love," which are feel good vibed
tunes that you can sing along to with a youthful sprint in your voice.
The toe-tapping honky-tonk grooves of "Spend That Money"
are infectious in a classic 80's country type of way. That continuous
theme of classic 80's country tunage has similarities to Shania
Twain's self-titled album which was her first country effort before
joining forces with her producer Mutt Lange who stepped into
the picture and gave her music a kick start. Like Twain, Rasmusen's
record does show jolts of rock-tinged country in "You Scare Me
To Death" and sprinkles of catchy pop hooks on "Nothin'
Like The Summer," but her lyrics posses a generic meaning to
them like in "Nothin' Like The Summer" when she muses, "I
love those summer days drifting on by like a slow parade and everything
feels fine in the warm sunshine."
Rasmusen's debut album has a nice country pleasantry but is deficient
in showing Rasmusen as anything more than a chanteuse. She should
be on radio stations alongside Colbie Caillat, Taylor Swift,
and Lindsey Haun, but the music dictates that she belongs with
Crystal Gayle and Trisha Yearwood. That is not to say
that Gayle or Yearwood are bad company to be in, not at all, but it
makes Rasmusen already dated when she never got a chance to be fresh
sounding and innovative. If this was the '80s, her album would be
those things, but it's not and artists like Patty Loveless know it
is not the '80s which is why when you hear Loveless today play her
songs of yesteryear, they sound new. That is something which Rasmusen's
album does not have - something new and fresh.
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