Risa Binder - Nashville EP
Record Label: Warehouse Records
Release Date: Aug. 5, 2014
Let’s face it, the country-pop revolution is here to stay and there’s no slowing it down. Country music purists have long smashed the genre for its cookie-cutter commercialism but when it comes to selling records, country-pop is a giant cash cow. The latest newcomer to the country-pop canon is Maryland-bred Risa Binder. On her latest EP Nashville, she successfully marries traditional country stylings with a honeyed approach to pop that quickly points her towards being a name to watch in 2015 and beyond.
Nashville opens with “Burning Down the Dark,” a perfectly executed effort of lap steel-laden radio pop. The chorus is pure, her voice is without flaw and the entire thing is a tightly packed summer smash that should find favor with plenty of country-pop purveyors in the months to come. Not content to succumb to filler, Binder powers forward on the title track, an autobiographical take on relocating from Brooklyn to Music City that absolutely charms in every sense of the word. Artists are at their best when they bare their souls and leave nothing to chance. “Nashville” is exactly that kind of song and proof positive why Binder will be a star in due time.
Those in need of more convincing can basque in the supple ballads “Easy to Remember,” or “Ready to Fall,” both of which are ageless takes on new love that smolder from the very first second and linger long after the song fades into the Tennessee night. Both of the ballads are home runs due in no small part to Binder’s crystalline vocals, which have a sense of warmth and immediacy that magnetize from the very first seconds.
One of country music's hallmarks is a sense of simplicity, wherein the message (and lyrics for that matter) yield to the hook. This is a skill Taylor Swift and countless others before her have perfected and Binder utilizes that same trait deftly on the heart-on-sleeve rocker “Gotta Have You.” Easily the EP’s most urgent and open-hearted effort, “Gotta Have You” is another reason to think that given enough time, Binder will be playing stadiums in the very near future.
Nashville’s strength is obviously due in large part to Binder’s inherent talent but due credit must be given to producer Luke Wooten. To date, the session guru has worked with the likes of Brad Paisley and Kellie Pickler, two artists who have successfully navigated pop sensibilities with country’s age-old trappings. Both Pickler and Paisley’s success are well within reach for Binder. More discs like Nashville and Binder might just find herself on stage at the Grand Ole Opry. Yes, Nashville is that good.