Seattle may not be a city most think of when they think of good torch rock singers, but that's only because they have not yet heard Carrie Akre. Perhaps best known as the lead vocalist for the now-defunct bands Hammerbox and Goodness, Akre is now on her third solo studio album in eight years.
…Last the Evening (Loveless Records) opens with a soulful, gospel-ish piano riff that leads into Akre's R&B styled vocals. "Courage" sets the stage for the emotional rollercoaster that is to come by reminding the listener that it's "the difference between love and holding back." Akre doesn't hold back on speaking her mind through music.
"Take My Heart" is an obvious choice for a single from the album, and should be in any music fan's romantic mix. The arrangement is reminiscent of 50s soul, and seems to exist simply as a backdrop for Akre's vocals. The lyrics are clear and direct, with a universal appeal:
Take my heart
Wrap it up in clover, don't tear it apart
If you feel that love is the most important part
I'll give you mine forever, yes right from the start
The despair and depression present in Akre's lyrics for "Trafalgar Square" are normally of the type that turn me off, but the music arrangement, with the Mellotron and loops keeping the energy flowing, allowed me to pay attention long enough to hear these gems of truth:
You can thank your lucky stars
If you've healed from all your scars
'Cause there are others who cannot
Whether they want to or not
As someone who is generally a "glass half-full" type person, it is good to be reminded that not everyone is able to easily recover from the emotional wounds. In just a few short minutes, Akre is able to express the perspective of a wounded and betrayed soul seeking solace and restoration.
Regardless of how well she sings or plays her instruments of choice (piano and acoustic guitar), Akre would not have the album she has without help from producer/musician Steve Fisk. In addition to co-producing the album, he appears on nearly every track, usually playing some sort of keyed instrument. Along with Mark Pickerel (drums and percussion), Johnny Sangster (guitars and bass), Danny Newcomb (guitar), and Jared Clifton (guitars), Fisk takes the solid base created by Akre and brings it out of the living room and into the concert hall. Yet the music retains the intimacy that must have been present the first time Akre sat down at the piano to play the basic outline. The title track and "Half Shelf Life" are both examples of songs that could stand on their own in a solo acoustic show, but the enhancement of additional instruments on the album make them stand out even more.
With Akre's powerful vocals throughout, …Last the Evening encourages the listener to take chances, even though fallout can often be painful. The flow from one track to another tells the story of love and betrayal, and ultimately, disconnection. However, the beauty of modern technology allows the listener to linger at whichever point they should choose, or even start over from the beginning. My optimism and I tend to prefer the latter option.