(4 / 5)
Her sixth studio album release. 10 cuts. Produced by Dale Murray. This Canadian singer songwriter has delivered something pretty special; which delivers a smattering of Radio 2-ready tracks and more.
It’s one of those times when you may think you have an artist and their music totally sussed after a couple of tracks of an album, and then…whammo. A curved ball from left field that’ll catch you out.
As is the case with “Impossible To Hold”, or as I now call it; “impossible to second guess!”. This multi award-winning musician has seamlessly blended Americana, pop, rock and more to deliver an impressive album with hidden depths. A grower the more you spin it.
Follow-up to her 2016 award winning album, “It’ll Be Alright”, and clearly she went into this project writing songs which ignored trends, was in no way chasing hits or working to order.
The material she penned guided her hand; instead of pre-conceived, template songwriting duties and she had full faith this almost auto-pilot, stream of consciousness approach would lead to a finished record she’d be happy with. Is she? Ask her yourself. But you bet your sweet bippy she should be.
The dramatic and dreamy opening title track, “Impossible To Hold”, written by Christina, straddles an indie and Americana sound. Commercial, very radio-friendly, but uber credible, and one of the stand-outs of the versatile collection.
The gloriously free vocals nod towards one of her early influences; Chrissie Hynde – a pleasing thing for sure. For me, perhaps the overall ambience has touches of the wonderful Lucinda Williams too.
The loosey goosey guitar brush strokes and the thumping drums set the tone, and provide concrete foundations for Christina’s passionate vocal. A tad too heavy on the reverb for my liking on the vocal, part way through this impressive opening track. But she had my full attention, for sure.
She writes about faith and love with songs like “Always Reminding’”, a juicy slice of retro electro rock-pop, in a Roxette vibe, and the current single – written with Dale Murray. Totally different feel to track one, and a different approach to the vocals too. Works very nicely. But she effortlessly veers off to delve into the darker things which are also part of the human journey.
Christina’s storytelling ability shines across the entire set. She tackles tough current topics, such as on the formerly released single, “Lungs Are Burning”, written as a response to the rising Fentanyl drug crisis in Canada, and her own personal loss related to addiction and mental illness.
“Where The Dark Meets The Light” draws inspiration from “the challenges and triumphs of dedicating your life to the artistic journey.” Other highlights include the album’s soulful yet delicate “Winter” and vintage rock pop on the impassioned “Deep Dark Red”.
“Impossible To Hold” feels ready-made for the arena stage, but equally fitting in the dimly-lit atmospheric listening venues Christina regularly plays. She was inspired to become a performer by watching iconic performers such as Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks and Tina Turner at concerts, and from music videos of The Pretenders, David Bowie and Annie Lennox.
The emotional connection wafting from the music here is palpable, and sums up what I always have in my mind when listening to any style and genre. “Music is what emotions sound like”.
The marketing bumph that came with this album makes a good point about what this album and these songs are all about. I quote: “Combining superb taste, passionate singing and thoughtful lyrics, ‘Impossible To Hold’ is where music and poetry meet”.
While there is not one niche sound here, some may criticise that and say she has not nailed a unique identity. I totally disagree with that stance and see this as fresh, interesting, what we critics call “an even listen”, and a welcome antidote to formula song writing and formula production.
If you don’t like it, move on, nothing to see or hear here for you folks. There’s a conveyor belt for a lot of today’s in-vogue sounds; especially in country and so-called Americana genres. Thank goodness someone is true to their own convictions and treads their own path for a change. Rant over, soap box stored, and breathe!
Christina began writing and recording her own music while slogging it out on the Austin, Texas bar scene. Her work has been compared to, among others; the likes of Annie Lennox, Chrissie Hynde, Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen.
She has been relentlessly recording and touring in Canada, the UK and Europe, building connections online and in the old-fashioned way, at venues big and small, singing songs about loss, love and perseverance.
Her songs have been featured in films, on television, and she’s performed at some of the world’s top music festivals such as; Rolling Stone Weekender Festival, Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival, International Folk Alliance, Reeperbahn Festival and Canadian Music Week.
The old adage of, ‘leave ‘em wanting more’ is very relevant here. This is a class act. An album worthy of wide spread attention. Impossible to ignore…..
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’