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Lost Souls Road
© 2007 Santelli Belli Productions
& Bum Music

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Kriss Santala
Lost Souls Road

Total Time: 23:59
Cost: $6.98 +s/h*

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STYLE: Neo-Country

HOME TOWN: New Haven, CT

1. One Good Thing
2. So What if I'm Wrong
3. Hear What I Say
4. Uh Huh
5. The Other Side
6. Shiver
7. Still


Visit Kriss' Facebook page.
Issue #96                                            Jun. '07

It’s easy to believe that Lost Souls Road cuts right through the heart of Nashville. After all, the sound of Honky-Tonk, Juke joints spill out of the speakers and the tales of heartache, longing, and somebody done somebody wrong are all neatly lined up as matter-of-factly as any roadside attraction. So it may be surprising to find that this beautiful, yet troubled, stretch of country expression starts in, ends in, and never leaves New Haven, CT.

Kriss Santala’s Lost Souls Road is a country based, Carter Family style montage that incorporates every offshoot of the genre, from Traditional, to Alt., Ambient, New, Rock and more – call it Neo-Country. Opening with One Good Thing, the disc hurtles down Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues line like a runaway train. A sinister, low, surf vibe sliding along a lap steel guitar as Kriss establishes her June Carter vocals, all the while allowing the guitar bridge to take the spotlight as needed.

So What If I’m Wrong follows and we’re smack dab in the Grand Ole Opery. This is as solid of an across-the-board country tune as you’re ever going to hear. Musically, vocally, it is spot on. Ms. Santala knew the sound she was looking for and she got it, 100% perfection. Stacy Phillips’ fiddle playing, matched with Clark Huckaby’s mandolin, is a joy to the ears, while James Montez (guitar), Bob Elliott (bass), and Tom Smith (drums) carry us along Nashville’s hallowed halls, bringing back the classic eclecticism of pure country. Coupled with heart aching lyrics and inflective vocals, this provides the packed dirt under the wheels on Lost Souls Road.

Kriss Santala is a veteran of the New Haven, CT music scene, logging more bands than the years can count. Her distinct vocals can be heard harmonizing with everybody on CDs too numerous to mention. There isn’t a style she can’t sing, harmonize, or play an instrument to. So it was only natural that when she decided to record a bunch of her own songs, she was able to hand pick any of the great quality musicians the New Haven scene has to offer. Naturally, anyone asked to play for Kriss would go out of their way to provide not only what she was looking for, but go more than the extra mile to make as professional a recording as you will hear from an independent artist in an independent scene.

Lost Souls Road even takes us to Twin Peaks with the Angelo Badalamenti inspired Hear What I Say. A stunning, chilling, amazing ballad – and one of the most alluring songs I’ve ever heard. This song draws so much compassion from my heart that I just want to wrap my arms around her, cry with her, and love her. A sparse arrangement with just Don Phee on guitar, Kriss’ vocals (with double tracked harmonies) and a gut wrenching trumpet by Ed Crowder (which I thought was a Harmonium until I read the liner notes). The mix by Bob Elliott is astounding, and Kriss Santala, who is credited as both writer and producer, shows that she is in the elite of songwriters. Presented with such raw emotion, Hear What I Say brings everything to a standstill.

How do you follow that? You lighten the mood musically with Uh Huh, a sort of Bonnie Hayes, Edie Brickell, kick-off-your-shoes-and-frolic-in-the-grass sound. Santala uses ace guitarist Dean Falcone to walk it down with Shellye Valuskas (guitar). With Jim Balga (drums), they kick the elation in the air to mask the seriousness of the (country drama) lyrics – How even though he abuses her, the narrator still wishes to include him in her escape fantasy, and it will all be different. But until then, “Uh Huh” is the only defense that gets her through the day(s).

Next, the country croon of The Other Side brings together the Fiddle and Mandolin arrangement of Stacy Phillips and Clark Huckaby again, and once again, it is breath taking. This song about a spiritual encounter with a lover/loved one who has passed (crossed over) - “Just goes to show / that I know you’re around / Just goes to show / that I know your love hangs ‘round me” – is beautiful, simply beautiful. This is easily the song of the year.

Shiver, with Kriss’ incredible vocals sounding like June Carter singing Patsy Cline while channeling Dusty Springfield, is even more quality writing. This song belongs in every Nashville jukebox. As rounded as anything you’ll hear coming out of the music city, this tragic tale of heartache and longing is the perfect piece of the brokenhearted puzzle. To authenticate it all the more, Chris Merek and Steve Baldino (guitars), Bob Elliott (bass), Bill Holoman (keyboards), and Wayne Kenyon (drums) lay down a melody deserving of George Jones.

To wrap the album, Kriss Santala tapped the final line up of New Haven’s legendary band, The Mocking Birds. With James Velvet (guitar and backing vocals), Johnny Java (bass), Dick Neal (Mandolin, guitar), and Jon Peckman (drums), Still recounts another tale of longing, heartache, need, desire, and of course, unrequited love. The instruments yearn and weep, the vocals plead and hope, and the country score closes in grand tradition spotlighting the genius that can be worked with a stable of professional independent musicians from a music scene that supports more genre hopping than can be imagined. That is, unless you’re Kriss Santala, and you’ve played in more bands than you can remember, and that once you’ve decided to make an album of your own, not only did you recruit the best, but you took 6 years to do it the way you wanted it done.

Take a ride down Lost Souls Road and discover what New Haven, CT has that Nashville doesn’t.

Kriss Santala - Lost Souls Road
is available now for: $6.98 +s/h*

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*Shipping & Handling charges:
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                     Add $1.50 per each CD after.
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                          Add $2.00 per each CD after.
Everywhere else -$7.00 for the first CD ordered,
                                        Add $3.00 per each CD after.

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