"Streets" not always Heaven to the ears
Written: Aug 28, 2004 (Updated Aug 28, 2004)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Some really great, original ideas and sounds here
Cons:The selected songs aren't a good mix
The Bottom Line: Recommended, for sure--lots of great stuff here. Sherrié fans, it's not her best work. All in all, the songs are mostly good, but the album could be better.
Six years after one Ms. Sherrié Austin broke onto the scene in 1997, she is back with her fourth album, Streets of Heaven. Austin, a native of Australia, made her record debut with a single called Lucky in Love, and hit the radio a few years later with the smash single Never Been Kissed, and a remake of Dolly Parton's Jolene. Finally, in 2003, she made it to the charts again with Streets of Heaven, the title cut and first single from this album. Sherrié has a long way to go before becoming a household name, but her fan base is loyal, and apparently big enough because despite her lack of real radio success, she keeps makin' records. And thank goodness.
For Sherrié's fans, this album was long awaited, and potentially the biggest disappointment she's ever given them. Now I doubt that any Sherrié fan is going to actually use that word, disappointment associated with this or any of her other albums, because we're just so happy to hear from her again. But this really is the closest thing to a disappointment she's ever put out, and I'll tell you why. Sherrié has created a pretty high bar for herself, and on this album, she has failed to outdo her other records. I've found that I can throw all of my other Sherrie CDs in the disc changer and listen to them all day without getting bored. (Especially now that she has a little size to her discography.) But add Streets of Heaven and I gotta keep the remote handy so that I can hit the skip button when needed.
With that, this CD holds a fat 13 tracks for your listening pleasure. Of these, Sherrié had a hand in writing twelve, and that's part of what makes her great. Her songs are traditional and mainstream enough to be called country, while at the same time not reverting into a Reba/Shania/DixieChix sound-alike. She has very much her own style, and a great way of saying things you don't hear said on the radio every day.
In this and future music reviews, I have decided to try splitting up the tracks into at least three categoriesthe listeners, the skippers, and the filler, whenever applicable. Most albums have some of each.
DJ's Songs Worth Hearing
The album starts out with Singin to the Scarecrow (Dennis Linde), a song reminiscent of a similar story she sang on Dreaming Out Loud (from Love In the Real World). This is the one song on the album that Sherrié didn't pen herself. This is a great song, with a lot of visual images. While it's not the most upbeat way she's ever started an album, it makes me think of the great fun I used to have singing into grain bins as a child. . . too much information? O.K., moving on . . .
Drivin' Into the Sun(Georgia Middleman, Sherrié Austin)
This was Sherrié's second single from this CD, and I would have liked to hear radio play this one more. It's got a great radio sound, with a little country electric guitar intro which actually makes you feel like you're driving down the road. A little bit along the lines of Strawberry Wine, the 1997 Deana Carter hit, this song talks about loving when your heart is young and unbroken. This song I could relate to, and probably most people can.
It's like drivin' into the sun, with no sunglasses on,
It was shinin' just for us, and we knew that it would always be. . .
But when I think about it now
Every sunrise must go down
Back then, I thought you were the only one.
It's funny what you can't see, drivin' into the sun.
Somebody's Somebody (Sherrié Austin, Steven Bliss, Will Rambeaux)
Boy, do I LOVE to hear Sherrié Austin sing the blues!!! Ow! This song is one of my favorites from this album. This is an upbeat bluesy-rock song, much like Aretha Franklin's Respect, and Sherrié has the pipes to wail on it. Everybody wants to be in love, and that is the main premise to this song. My favorite lyrical line has to be:
Charlie owns a double-wide,
He's got a pension plan,
His hair, his teeth, his vitamins--yeah he's still the man. . .
This song has some attitude, and is so, so true.
Remind Me (Sherrié Austin)
At first listen to this album, I didn't notice this song. A lot of Sherrié's songs are catchy, and sticky, (as I like to call them), because they're infectious and memorable. But I couldn't remember this one. I've concluded that the phone rang or something the first time I heard this one, because there's no way I'd have forgotten it. I'm sure of this. After another listen, this one just popped out at me. It's great! Like not a lot of songs, it's set to a 12/4 time signature, which gives it a distinctly different sound from the rest of the album. It has a slower, pleading tempo, and a woman begging her man to help her bring back the fiery passion they used to have together. It leaves an impression. Not only do I not skip this song, I will occasionally hit the repeat button when this one is done. It has a nice, danceable rhythm. By the end of the song, I was convinced she meant every word.
I'm Still Fallin' (Sherrié Austin, Kostas)
Sherrié apparently had a chance to write this song with the renowned Montana songwriter, Kostas. This song has a great little ska beat that makes it a lot of fun to dance to and sing along with. Something that has always struck me about Sherrié is how much she enunciates her words when she sings them. That's one of my favorite things about her because you never wonder what in the world her lyrics are. It's a distinct part of her performance style, and you'll notice it in every song, however in this song it works particularly well, as the words move quickly and it is done quite often in this style of music.
Streets of Heaven (Sherrié Austin, Al Kasha, Paul Duncan)
This is probably the most well-written song on the album. It's a heartbreaking ballad about a child whose life is about to come to an end, and the mother who loves her. Keep the tissues handy, because this song is a tear-jerker, even if you only read the lyrics.
Like a Cat(Sherrié Austin, Templeton Thompson, Sally Barris)
While some of the ideas in this song are trite,
(People say I'm so aloof, well it's just because I have learned
To stay away from that hot tin roof, so I won't get burned) this song isn't bad for driving music. It sounds a little catty alright, (Sherrié has [or her people have] a talent for making the background of a song really fit what the lyrics are saying), and the stratospheric harmonies are kind of fun to listen to. The song is about a cautious girl who warns anyone who's interested to be nice, and maybe she'll hang out for a while.
Heart on Ice
This is one of the greatest things on this whole album, and they stuck it on the very end as a hidden track! It's very acoustic . . . it has a very dusty sound. It makes me think of somebody listening to Def Leppard kicking up some dust down a dirt road. There are some GREAT images here, and lyrically this is probably the strongest song aside from the title track. This song is about a girl whose libido is killing her and she's on the verge of doing something she knows she shouldn'tgiving it all up to a guy before she marries him. I love the images in this song. And the lyrics made me want to just fall out of my chair!
If he asked me now I swear I might say yes . . .
Straight to the altar, no cake, no wedding dress
Mama always dreamed I'd be wearin' whiteI better put my heart on ice.
Well done, Sherrié!
Not bad, eight songs worth hearing. Now, on to the others.
DJ's Sawdust Songs (a.k.a. filler)
Small Town Boy (Sherrié Austin, Will Rambeaux)
This is an upbeat song about straying from the one you love, only to find out they were what you really longed for. Her vocals are great, as always, but admittedly, this song doesn't do a lot for me. There's nothing wrong with it, but nothing about it made me say, hey, yeah, that's a good way of putting that. Not bad to listen to, though.
Love Unafraid (Sherrié Austin, Will Rambeaux, Rob Crosby)
Nothing terrible, but also nothing special here. This is a pretty-enough ballad about just getting over the fear of getting hurt and loving anyway. On this album in a couple places, I get the feeling that Sherrié has this little fantasy about what the sun sees peeking in through her window. Not the idea, I'm sure, but it's a bit of a recurring theme.
This Town is That Small (Sherrié Austin, Will Rambeaux)
I'm slightly torn as to whether to call this song worth a listen, or filler. I like the conceptsmall town politics and gossip aren't addressed yet in a ton of country songs (at least on the radio), however, some of these lyrics sound a little settled for in my opinion, when a little more time might have produced more well-written lyrics. At any rate, this song does hit home in what it's trying to sayin small towns, everyone knows everyone, and if they don't know you, they'll find out all they can to turn around and use it against you later. It's a nice up-tempo, fun song, but she's written and recorded a lot of songs that are better.
DJ's Don't-Even-Bother List
Ride Em Cowgirl (Sherrié Austin, Will Rambeaux)
Frankly, I can't get through this song without yawning. It's a girl version of Desperado, asking a girl when she's going to settle down. The idea is a little far-fetched for me, as every woman I know does not have to be talked in to settling down. I can't picture the person she is singing about (or, as most people would, someone I know that she could be singing about). Not only are the lyrics hard to relate to, it's a ballad. The music is not enjoyable enough to listen to for fun. I hit skip on this one every time.
Fools Like Us (Steven Bliss, Sherrié Austin)
I can't decide if in this song Sherrié is talking about herself and an old lover who never should have let each other go, or herself and the record people at Broken Bow Records for letting this track onto the album in the first place. This is another place with the elements (sun, moon) looking into Sherrié's window to see who, I mean what she's doing. I can't listen to this song, maybe only because I can't stand how she sings the word casually.
I can't believe / how casually we threw it all away / we should never say goodbye / like we did yesterday / sometimes love gives a second chance / to fools like us.
The song structure here is lacking, the chorus separates from the verses oddly and doesn't create the drama she's looking for, and lyrically, it's all been said before. Thanks for the skip button, Sony.
I have all of Sherrié's albums, and this one is definitely my least favorite. That said, there's a lot of great stuff on here. I think the major issue with this CD is that it is hodgepodge, and feels a little hastily written in places, and a little thrown together. Some of the lyrics should have graced the drawing board a couple more times before they were put onto store shelves. The sound production and the vocals are greatI wouldn't change anything about the tracks themselves, but maybe some of them should have been omitted or grouped with other songs for a future album in order to get more of a cohesive sound.
Read all 3 Reviews
Write a Review