This is an Enhanced CD, which contains both regular audio tracks and multimedia computer files. Bering Strait: Natasha Borzilova (vocals, acoustic guitar); Ilya Toshinsky (electric guitar, banjo, background vocals); Alexander "Sasha" Ostrovsky … see full wiki
The Bottom Line: Regrettably I cannot recommend Bering Strait; perhaps the groups second CD holds more promise. Stay tuned
One of the things I love about National Public Radio (NPR) is the variety of topics that pop up everyday, in a manner of programs. I listen religiously to Fresh Air with Terri Gross on my local (Chicago) NPR station everyday at 11:00am, and one day earlier this year she featured the group Bering Strait, and export from Russia of all places that play Country & Western ad Bluegrass music. From the clips I heard of the groups live performances, they sounded well worth the $17.99 asking price for a CD, but I course waited for a sale at BMG, and bought their debut offering the self-titled Bering Strait.
A few words before I go on: I wanted to like this album from the six young musicians from across the Bering Straits (the body of water that separates Alaska from Siberia in the Bearing Sea), really I did, but I dont. After listening to the CD a few times on the way to work and back again, I have come to the conclusion that Country & Bluegrass are quintessential American forms of music and not easily duplicated or imitated by those who have not lived the life that informs the music. That is not to say that Bering Strait cannot play the notes of a Country and or Bluegrass song as well as any C&W group, nor that they cannot sing the lyrics; they do both well, but there is no spirit in their play. Without spirit, without soul, C&W music like R&B rings hallow and un-emotive; it is in effect just background noise, which is what I felt I was listening to whenever I slid the Bering Strait CD into the player.
Nashville, TN capital of the world C&W scene has long been abuzz about Bering Strait. The group consists of six classically trained Russian musicians who (allegedly) play country and bluegrass music as good as any homegrown artiste. The group lingered in Nashville for some four years and went through five record labels before finally getting Bering Strait released on the little know Universal South label in the early part of 2003.
Bering Strait, the album, has since garnered widespread phrase, with one of its two instrumentals, Bering Strait being nominated for a Grammy, even if it was not what I might consider true Country. Few could argue that the producers of Bering Strait were aiming squarely at the mainstream C&W audience with its Nashville written (Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Mary Ann Kennedy, and Pam Rose to name a few of the songwriters who contributed to this undertaking) and stamped (over produced) songs about love, heartbreak, and romance, punctuated by admittedly admirable instrumental work.
Lead vocalist Natasha Borzilova delivers balanced, evenly pitched, and often time beautiful recitation of almost all of the tracks on the CD, but her singing lacks heart, substance, and personality. And therein (once again) lies the problem with the undertaking; the songs failed to move me, failed to speak to my soul in any way, shape, or fashion; as I mentioned about they were just background music, something to listen to keep from listening to dead air. The band fails to leave its imprint on the tunes; it would have nice to have been introduced to a few original tracks by the group, but
What could have been a fine blending of two cultural experience turned into a typical over-produced (mostly) cotemporary American C&W album without a heart and soul of its own. The members of Bering Strait if left to their own direction are capable of beautiful emotive music; I know Ive heard it, just not on this album, which is a shame because history could have been made here, but that ship has sailed. So, regrettably I cannot recommend Bering Strait; perhaps the groups second CD holds more promise. Stay tuned
Bering Strait is:
Natasha Borzilova lead singer, acoustic guitar; Ilya Tashinsky, lead electric guitar, banjo, background vocals; Alexander Sasha Ostrovsky dobro, lap steel, and steel guitar; Lydia Slanikova piano, keyboards, lead/background vocals; Sergei Spooky Olkhovsky, bass; Alexander Arzamastsev, drums.
1. What Is It About You 2. Tell Me Tonight 3. I Could Be Persuaded 4. When Going Home 5. I'm Not Missing You 6. I Could Use A Hero 7. The Trouble With Love 8. Jagged Edge Of A Broken Heart 9. Only This Love 10. Bearing Straight 11. Porushka-Paranya 12. Like A Child