Kari Rueslåtten - Time to Tell

Kari Rueslåtten Time to Tell cover
Kari Rueslåtten
Time to Tell
Despotz Records
The amazing and sensational Kari Rueslåtten, that many of us originally fell in love with, as the vocalist of 3rd and the Mortal, returns after an eight year self-imposed musical exile of sorts, during which she did seem to take some time away to pursue academic goals as well as to grow a family. With a new album entitled “Time to Tell”, Kari continues her personal musical journey, moved by the love of countless fans that would reach out to her asking her to return to music. In her latest batch of songs she is revisiting familiar waters, but in doing so, she also takes some small chances, trying to redefine some aspects of her own style and to experiment, proving that she’s not bound by a certain expectation or musical style, by that she's free to roam and restricted only by the bounds of her imagination. After all, how much can you fine tune “perfection”
Time to Tell” is the title track and the album’s opener and is actually more of a short and soft piano intro, that’s actually melodic and in a little over a minute reintroduces Kari back to the public.
It’s actually the segued “Hide Underneath Bridges” that’s the first proper song, that seems to show a Kari that’s possibly a little “shy” but is slowly re-emerging and in doing so, she apparently comes back in waves and layers that seem to revisit, most of the older “reincarnations” of her sound, showing that she still “has it” 100%. 101% in fact.
“Bridges” could have easily been included on Kari’s previous album, which came out, some 8 years ago, so, she seems to have not missed a step (or a note) musically speaking.
Hold On” is quite peculiar song, with lyrics that make almost a few too many references, that makes me think that it would not be a wild leap of the imagination to think that this one is inspired by Icelandic artist Bjork, while the weirdest fact about it, is that Kari almost launches into a semi-yodel midway into the chorus, which is rather a weird, but fascinating idea, but not something for the faint hearted, I suppose haha. At least she sounds better doing it than your average, Swiss, Yodeler!
Paint the Rainbow Grey” probably wins the award for the most miserable title I’ve read in a while.
It’s a very fragile and simple song based on piano, with Kari being very emotional and it seems to be very personal and profound. If not, I must give it up to Kari, for managing to pull off, the equivalent of an “Oscar” winning vocal performance. It’s a song that had me gasping for air, by the time it finished.
Rainy Days Ahead” is quite different song, a more cheerful poppy, breezier song that somehow manages to have a sad title but encompasses a positive message, packing it all in a cute lil’ chorus.
Why so Lonely” is originally a 3rd and the mortal composition, that was originally released some 20 years ago, on their debut, “Tears Laid on Earth” and here appears re-arranged, with a guest appearance by Tuomas Holopainen (of Nightwish fame) who apparently is a really big fan of Kari’s. Well the track’s every bit as good as it used to be back in the day and I suppose the modern recording techniques, Kari’s accumulated experience over the years and the better arrangement, help it to sound probably “better”, although, that’s a matter of taste, I guess. It certainly sounds, somewhat different.
Shoreline” is a really – really slow song, that seems to have folk roots. It’s very plain and basic. It sounded to my ears like a Loreena McKennit song, bereft of any rich orchestration...
Waltz Across the Sky”, is somewhat of an experiment... not that Kari hasn’t done a few “weirder” songs before on the likes of albums like the highly electric and eclectic 2002s “Pilot” or even on the rather multifaceted and brave 2005s “Other People’s Stories” but this here tune, seems to be driven by a “Waltzing” theme and Kari invents a melody to go with it, which is quite, brilliantly “bizarre”, but brilliant nonetheless!
Wintersong” which was released as digital single, is a bittersweet ballad, where Kari’s featherlight voice swings in an almost gleeful way, gliding as the rather heavy and gloomy piano notes, come hitting down, making the rather melancholic if not downright sad lyrics even more effective...
Stay Right Here” is a rather weird little number, with interesting percussion, quite minimal all in all, with a rather folksy feel and Kari, mostly coming up with the melodies, in a way that sound as if it’s almost improvised. It’s very tender and obviously the chorus is very “sweet”.
Finally Only You Know” is another very simple song, almost like a lullaby and judging by the quite “personal” lyrics it seems to be directed from Kari to her child (might be wrong too). It’s sweet and so serene it could put you almost to sleep, (not saying it in a bad way) I suppose it’s a wise decision to put it at the very end of the album as it seems to work very nicely as a closing track.
Kari’s latest album is as one would expect it to be a great piece of art. It contains some incredible songs and it explores some really interesting ideas, as well as a revisits an old song which it renders under a new light. This rather new and improved version, really does it justice and 20 years later, it cannot be considered as some sort of a “profiteering” move, but much rather like an acknowledgment of one’s roots.
The overall tone of the album tends to be somewhat sadder, but in the eight years that have passed since Kari’s last outing, who knows what the beautiful Norwegian Muse might have experienced? I think motherhood is one thing, but with the world being an increasingly bleak place, there might be a sort of reflection of that in the overall feel of the album, a slight melancholy. But too often, there are glimmers of hope and joy, underlined, by Kari’s ever youthful and soul stirring performance/voice. A siren from the Woods really. Enchanted by the song, I can only follow...