Candice Russell – So Much More (2013)

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Candice Russell’s So Much More, which kicks off with a jet-propelled gust of optimism in its title track, might occasionally detour into hard times but it remains determinedly, joyously upbeat. It’s impossible to emerge from this project without a few flecks of her pixie-dust optimism.

“Remember” might be the album’s most complete realization of her delightfully hopeful outlook, a song that doesn’t just recognize the itch of old scars but finds a way to use them as a badge of courage. “When I See You” shares a similar emotion, but narrows its focus toward getting over a love that never was. “Escape” tries to fill the space between two people whose passion is often complicated by life.

In each instance, Russell finds her way out of these confusing mazes. Hers is a message of faith, no matter the obstacle.

If songs like “Someday” and “Too Into You” veer a little too close to the canny country girl-meets-pop chart magic of her hero Taylor Swift, Russell’s sunny disposition — well, and the occasional Swift-y little twist — end up carrying the day. On the first, she adds: “One day … the pain will fade — but not today.” On the latter, Russell pushes back — and hard — against a ego-driven ex, singing “I hope your reflecting treats you well.”

She doesn’t stand pat on those initial inspirations, either. For instance, the Oregonian, a one-time American Idol contestant, adds electro-flourishes that recall Owl City on her sun-flecked reminiscence “Summer Nights.” Later, on the propulsive “Good Luck With That,” she displays a tough attitude that’s all her own, even if — in keeping with the overall tenure of So Much More — Russell ends up on the right side of a breakup, anyway. She closes with a celebration of the bonds that keep us in times good and bad, the redemptive “My Friend.”

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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