Shine is a very fine slab of pop/rock from Claudia Norris and she’s just a few rungs down the ladder from climbing up into the world pop stardom. Admirably, Norris writes, produces, performs and sings her own material with very little help and while she could benefit from a bigger studio budget and some slight advances in her songwriting skills, Shine is really solid recording that should win her over plenty of fans.
On opener “Tonight”, Claudia easily eclipses the banality of One Direction, Justin Bieber and other leaden pop mascots with a swirly, electronica splashed keyboard-centered smorgasbord that is guaranteed to be a hit with enough airplay behind it. The beat is more contagious than a common cold, riff-y guitars provide just enough raw edge and the strong-willed vocals of Claudia Norris intensify the fun with powerhouse choruses that are practically automatically anthem-worthy and verses that do a great job of setting the stage for the impending catchiness. It’s a very cohesive piece that gives the EP its footing and quickly lets the listener know that Norris isn’t daunted by swimming into many different musical waters.
The title track is a smoothly played, alt/pop bliss where electric/acoustic guitars weave in and out of each other as traditional drum/bass rhythm backdrops give the tune enough groove to move along seamlessly. This alteration in the musical fabric allows Claudia to flex her vocal muscles in hearty, passionate bursts of country grits with limber verses directly bumping into a standout chorus vocal. Norris has an affinity for Nashville as she recently spent a decent amount of time visiting the city and it’s obvious that the culture of that area has rubbed off on her (especially in the vocal department). Even more rooted in the slide guitar, plucky southern guitar action is “Sunny Afternoon” where Claudia power croons playfully like Shania Twain or even a young Reba. The rhythms lock onto deep bass grooves and propulsive yet tasteful beats that coerce Norris to use the entirety of her range (from high to low) as she slinks her way through the verses and grabs ahold of the chorus for dear life. “Marry You” is also a stage for Norris’ three-ring vocal act to wow the audience with deeper r & b style phrasings giving way to breathy whispers and wailing vocals hooks while piano, acoustic guitar and digital drumming cast off a very singular and special light to the song… perhaps the EP’s best as it stands.
Claudia Norris will certainly make a name with her once the Shine EP and its glorious songs spread to a larger audience. Every song here has the potential of being a hit single and it would be a delight to see Norris sign with a larger label based on the strengths of these tunes. Not only does Claudia have a mastery of the modern, electronica inspired sounds that are currently shaking the airwaves but she also has a flair for honest to goodness old school instrumentation and songwriting that is a downright pleasure to hear from a singer whose main bread n’ butter is pop. Shine is indeed a very nice outing for this Canadian upstart.
8 out of 10 stars.
– David Shouse