Wednesday, April 3, 2013

More Average Than Insipid, Nina Gordon's Tonight And The Rest Of My Life Isn't Worth It!

The Good: Moments of lyrics, voice, Title track
The Bad: Predictable rhyme schemes, Overproduced vocals and instrumentals.
The Basics: With its generic pop-rock sound and annoyingly sing-song lyrics, Tonight And The Rest Of My Life is a complete flop for Nina Gordon.

When I first heard the single “Tonight And The Rest Of My Life” by Nina Gordon, back in 2000, I was convinced that Nina Gordon would be huge. I was sure she would ride the Blonde Revolution out as one of the greats of that young hot thing pop movement. The single was musically rich, vocally average and lyrically romantic in the way that appeared to have everything that young people who buy c.d.s seem to look for. I could never understand how it was Gordon hadn't smashed onto the music scene and impressed the world. Then I heard her album Bleeding-Heart Graffiti and I understood. Now, having heard the album Tonight And The Rest Of My Life, I am forced to assume that even Americans couldn't muster up the enthusiasm for the sugary pop and often melodramatic lyrics that Nina Gordon presented on the album.

Nina Gordon's first single from Tonight And The Rest Of My Life sounded unlike anything else on the radio at the time - and not quite like anything else on the album. Unfortunately, the album is defined by melodramatic pop ballads ("2003," "The End Of The World") and rock anthems that sound like Angry Chick Standard ("Badway," "Number One Camera"). The result is an album that it is exceptionally easy to tire of easily and has an overall adolescent sound and feel to it.

With thirteen tracks, clocking in at 50:39, Tonight And The Rest Of My Life is a combination of the musical vision of Nina Gordon and producer Bob Rock. Gordon wrote all of the songs, save "The End Of The World." Nina Gordon provides the lead vocals for each song, but it is unclear whether or not she even played her trademark guitar on the album. As well, she does not get so much as a production credit; Bob Rock is the exclusive producer and there is the question, then, of how much of the sound and feel of the album is truly Nina Gordon's.

What initially interested me in Nina Gordon was the title single of the album; it has an orchestral rock feel and anthemic scope to it with Gordon presenting universal lyrics and a strong love theme. Over the course of the album, there are a few such thematic songs, like "Horses In The City" which expresses alienation and awkwardness remarkably well, "Hold On To Me" which is articulate (in a singsongy way) about loyalty in love, and a bevy of breakup songs ("New Year's Eve," "Fade To Black"). Thematically, Gordon seems to have a lot to say and Tonight And The Rest Of My Life offers a diverse range of songs . . . within a rather narrow selection of standard pop-rock themes. In other words, there is nothing truly audacious here. It's all love and loss of love and Gordon does not have a lot going that is either unique or uniquely stated.

Take, for example, "New Year's Eve," a song about a musical protagonist's antipathy toward celebrating the new year because of the love of her life being indifferent to her on New Year's after their breakup. What seems like it ought to be audacious, clever and unique is absolutely crippled by inane rhymes throughout the stanzas and in the refrain. Indeed, it is hard to take Gordon's message seriously when she sings lines like "Normally I'd be knee-deep in champagne / I'd kick my heels up until neighbors complain / It's a glamorous evening for most / Normally I'd be upstaging the host / But not this year because I'm here / The party's all around me / You're there / Indifference has found me / I know I should have dressed up but I just can't make believe / Now I'm here and you're there / So who cares what I wear / On new year's eve" ("New Year's Eve"). Unfortunately, this is more typical for the album than the exception to the rule.

It is not, however, all bad. Gordon's creativity does have the ability to win out. So on "2003" she presents a pop-rock story song that is either a time travel love song or a pledge song. Indeed, Gordon when Gordon sings "I want to meet in 2003 / I want to see what the future can bring to me / And when I do I'll meet you here my darling / And when I'm free I'll be waiting where I said I would be / My love will you wait for me" ("2003") the listener actually feels like they are hearing something they haven't heard before. This is almost the musical equivalent to "The Lake House" and Gordon pulls the song off fairly well.

But what Nina Gordon seems to lack - largely - is a sense of musical and emotional maturity on Tonight And The Rest Of My Life. Everything is extreme and melodramatic in the way she expresses her emotions, there is no temperance or reason, it is all huge mood swings. So, for example, on virtually every track Gordon's musical protagonists are treated like they are the center of all things, their own world as well as the world of all of the bystanders around them. The extremeness of this is evident on songs like "Hate Your Way" with its ridiculous lyrics like "I don't care / They can cut me down / 'Til I'm the talk of the town / I'm a fool for you / Had to sell my soul / But you were so rock and roll / I'm a fool for you" that leave the listener wondering "who does this person think she is?!" as opposed to empathizing with her.

Nina Gordon's Tonight And The Rest Of My Life is also plagued by vastly overproduced lyrics. In all honesty, I cannot tell from the music on this album whether or not Nina Gordon is a good singer or not. She appears to have an alto voice that tends to tread to the lower ranges of that register, but all of the vocals are so cleaned up and computer enhanced in the quality of their sound that it is impossible to tell what is real and what is Gordon's actual voice. She does manage to eke into the soprano range on the title track and "Horses In The City," but the rest of the album tends to be so bland and without the flaws of realism that vocally it is a dull album.

Similarly, musically the album takes a quick turn from original and interesting to the fast train to dullsville. The songs initially defy the conventions of being either guitar or keyboard (piano) driven tracks by being both. The songs tend to include obvious and possibly programmed percussion, electric guitars and keyboards and/or pianos. But all of the songs use the same combinations for a series of songs that have the exact same type of richness to them. Every song on the album sounds like it could be played during the closing credits to a teen-oriented film.

The result is a remarkably average pop-rock album with so little to recommend it that it is, in fact, easy to not recommend it. Objectively, it is the embodiment of average and those who miss the 1980s sound and feel to pop-rock music might enjoy this for the nostalgia value (and yes, I am aware that Nina Gordon is about fifteen years too late for that sound with this album), but for the rest of us, those looking for something new, we are likely to look past this album and Nina Gordon to something else.

The best track is "Tonight And The Rest Of My Life," the weak link is the utterly unmemorable "Got Me Down."

For other, intriguing, solo female artists, please visit my reviews of:
Bomb In A Birdcage - A Fine Frenzy
Human Again - Ingrid Michaelson
Icon - Imogen Heap


For other music reviews, please check out my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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