After a pair of successful EP releases on the indie circuit that charted on several radio stations (Hello, Hello and her debut Love, Claudia), Canadian singer/songwriter Claudia Norris presents her best collection of tunes to date, Shine. The four tracks give you a taste of what the singer has to offer and leaves you wanting more which is what any good EP should do.
After a recent trip to Nashville to write; record and sightsee, it’s obvious that the country capital of the USA has been rubbing off on Norris’ own material. The title track takes some pop/rock guitar and unforgettable vocal melodies and mixes it with twangy electric riffs, shuffling rhythms and acoustic guitar. Though Claudia’s homeland of Alberta is far north from the origins of the Nashville sound, numerous lyrical turns and heartfelt songwriting ring very true of the city that gave us the best of the best in the genre… Instead of simply copying the style, Norris smoothens up the mix with pop-song craft that ensures grandiose choruses and trotting verse melodies that are sung breathlessly over a sturdy instrumental background. Claudia writes and performs all of the material herself; an obvious labor of love that yields her songwriting a genuine feel that’s hard to come by in this era. The closer “Sunny Afternoon” takes the rural, southern-fried downhome cooking one step further with slide guitars, plentiful acoustics, rhythmic restraint and comely southern-belle vocal prowess that sees Norris tipping the Texaco hat to Kelly Clarkson’s early work post-American Idol. She’s not a one trick pony either as exhibited on EP opener “Tonight” which has a dance party feel centered on an 80s electro beat, swishing keyboards, techno vocal effects and a huge call/response chorus that will be an immediate hit blaring from car speakers or at high school proms the world over. The production is surprising for an independent artist because it truly has the feel of an expensive studio in terms of instrumental tones and vocal clarity. Throw in a handful of sharp, rocked-out riffs and “Tonight” proves that it could be a hit not only on dance stations but on popular rock radio outlets as well. Balladry rules supreme on “Marry you” with its delectable r & b beat and Norris’ hushed, romantic vocals reminding the listener of a female version of Usher. Piano and acoustic guitars conjure up imagery of a musical bed of roses where every note is soft and calming to the mind and body.
The only gripe to be made about Shine is that there is just not enough of it. With three EPs under her wing, the most hopeful maneuver would be for Claudia Norris to try her hand at putting out a full-length album. She has the songwriting chops, powerful voice and instrumental know-how to get the job done and with the variety contained across her body of work thus far, there is very little doubt that she could pull off a 10-12 track winner capable of garnering her music airplay on the biggest and best radio/satellite/internet stations out there. Overall, Shine is a ray of sunshine much needed in a world that gets darker by the day!
9 out of 10 stars.
– Lance Wright