[4 August 2014]
PopMatters Music Editor - Canada
Singer-songwriter Risa Binder, if you look at her press photos, looks like a blonde bombshell, sort of a country music version of Katy Perry (though I don’t know what hair colour Perry is sporting lately). They say that beauty is only skin deep, and that’s pretty much true of Binder’s five song Nashville EP. While it’s agreeable country fare, it is also pretty bland and predicable for the most part, and it really seems like Binder is just chasing after a radio hit. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, I suppose, but aside from the lovely “Gotta Have You”, there’s not a lot on Nashville that you haven’t already heard on a Dixie Chicks album. This is the same generic country-rock pap for the masses, which is a bit of a shame considering the rich tradition and history that country music has. And while the EP is pleasant enough, that’s about the best thing you can say about it, unfortunately.
What works is the aforementioned “Gotta Have You”. It’s a lovely piano ditty, even if the lyrics are a little pedestrian: “I love you like I love the sun / Shining down no matter what / You know just how to light me up / I love you like I love the sun.” Sigh. I’ve read better high school poetry. Still, the song has some real strength behind it and it’s catchy. However, everything else is pretty rote. “Nashville”, an ode to Binder’s new adopted hometown, is ... nice. And yet it sounds an awful lot like “Gotta Have You” if you play the songs back-to-back. “Burning Down the Dark” has probably the clumsiest metaphor that I’ve heard in some time. How exactly do you burn down the dark? With a Bic lighter? Anyhow, Nashville is pretty average for an artist who is sure attractive. Basically, though, that’s pretty much all that Binder has going for her, aside from the odd not-bad song here and there. She’s just another pretty face in a crowd of beautiful faces, and if she really wants to stand out, she’ll have to muster up a better and more memorable batch of songs.