This CD elevates Reina to the upper echelon of Portland’s elite stable of singer-songwriters. Already an accomplished songwriter, Reina has written her best music yet for this album. Of course, as we have come to expect, Reina’s vocals are what draw you into the songs to begin with, accompanied by some of Portland’s finest musicians and supported by the consistently excellent studio work of producer Rob Stroup of 8 Ball Studios. It’s a gem of a record. I’m honored that she chose one of my songs (‘Sisters in Crime’) to be part of this terrific CD.
The new Reina Collins album, Austin to Boston, shows the Florida-based singer in peak form. She sounds both confident and content, and her backing band also sounds sharp.
Her astute choice of material, both self-penned songs and tasteful cover versions --- tunes by artists as diverse as Joni Mitchell, Richard Thompson, and World Party --- is a perfect fit for her warm, soothing vocals. This album is truly comfort food for the ears. Reina has a striking singing style that reminds me at times of Kathy Mattea or Mary Chapin-Carpenter, effortlessly blending elements of country, rock, blues, and folk. On her website she calls herself a "roots rockin’ songstress" and that’s a pretty apt description of her style. Whatever you want to label it, this is just damn good music.
A veteran performer, Collins's newest CD, Austin to Boston, fires up with Medicine Burn, a hearty, throaty vocal growl indeed "burns" good goin' down on this track, as Collins states, she is the remedy. More good country follows on Mae Belle Road, adoringly executed as any good story should be. Collins is obviously a highly accomplished musician and performer with that Judy Collins, Kate Wolf, Joan Baez feel. Safe has a strong fundamental rock sound. Ruby moves back to a twisting little country sound dancing around the ballad of a beauty. Good rolling sounds on Put the Message in the Box. Nice cut on Woodstock, where her vocals really re-work a borrowed piece of time offering a nice strong cut of rock with really great electric guitar on it (and others) by Tim Ellis. Sisters in Crime has that Riders on the Storm feel. They're all great listening.
Collins says she has a hard time labeling the genre. It's a lotta country, a little blusey, folky and some fundamental rock. Her bio states that she's been playing out for twenty years. She's currently based in Portland and the rest of the country is clearly missing out!
Portland based folk and roots singer/songwriter Reina Collins's third album seems, musically and spiritually, her most adventurous creation yet. Austin to Boston - inspired by the wanderlust of rambling around the United States on a solo road trip - is an epic of Kerouacian proportions. The album's silky title doesn't fully denote the 10,000 mile of road traveled, as Collins essentially made her way to all four corners of the States on the trip. Although she didn't have a guitar on her journey, the fervor of music remained with Collins. As a result, she found herself constantly composing verses, building melodies, and recording bits and pieces on a hand-held tape recorder; this would all eventually shape the six original tracks on the album. The remaining songs included in the record are covers that pay homage to notable predecessors such as Richard Thompson and Joni Mitchell.
Reina Collins's music has the carefree vibe you would expect from a flower child and avid traveler. All the while, Austin to Boston is filled with energy and a certain country twang that has me longing to catch a live show and experience Collins's “Hair Flinging and Booty Shaking.” The album's collective of uber-talented musicians is highlighted by her long-time musical partner Hal Gerard, but the addition of elements such as Tim Ellis's mandolin elevates it from the average big band collaborative. The lyrical content is down to earth with an optimistic feel, refreshing in a era of music littered with depressive self-loathers. I'm hereby starting the rumor that her vocal talent must be derived from the classic mythological Sirens, as the unparalleled songstress combines Patti Smith's soulfulness, the sincerity of Sarah McLachlan, and a hint of Emmylou Harris's country sensibilities. She can easily stand alongside the most noted contemporary female singer/songwriters of our day. What's truly fascinating, however, is her versatility; Austin to Boston is only one facet of her vast musical repertoire. You'll also find her doing mellowed out acoustic sets with Gerard as well as rounding out the Portland based female trio, Sisters in Crime.
Visit CDBaby.com or Amazon.com to hear some samples or make a purchase.