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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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Deformative Years CD Cover
Image © Maple 2005

Roberta Carter
Roberta Carter (vocals)
Image © Wild Strawberries 2005

(06 September 2005) Wild Strawberries are the acclaimed Canadian husband and wife duo Roberta Carter Harrison and Ken Harrison. Widely recognized as one of the best pop-rock duos north of the border, Wild Strawberries have garnered a loyal fan-base since first appearing on the scene in the early 1990s. Prior to signing with Nettwerk Records (home of Sarah McLachlan and Delerium) in 1995, the Strawberries had released several independent albums including Carving Wood Spectacles, Grace (1992), and the EP Life Sized Marilyn Monroe (1993).

Heroine, their first release on Nettwerk, evidently impressed many ears, reaching gold status. Subsequently, the duo released Quiver (1998) and Twist (2000). By the time Twist was released, the Strawberries had ended their relationship with Nettwerk and were forging ahead on their own. Catching the ears of German trance/electronica DJ, ATB, the Strawberries collaborated with him on seven different singles--singles like anthem "Let you Go" which became terrific hits throughout Europe.

The Wild Strawberries most recent release, Deformative Years (2005) sees the duo return to their solid rocking roots with verve. In fact, this album may be judged their strongest and most refreshing to date. Roberta, whose smokey and effortless alto is instantly recognizable, has never sounded better singing Ken's perpetually clever and poetic lyrics. Deformative Years is a true "homegrown" production--the Harrisons recorded, produced and mixed the entire album in their home studio.

Several of the tracks, like "No Way to Break My Heart" and "I Don't Want to Stop" are reworkings of songs that appeared on ATB's 2003 album "Addicted to Music" (an excellent album in its own right). Amazingly, the Strawberries more organic retakes are just as good as the originals--proving that a good song shines regardless of genre reinterpretation.

The opener "Waiting for the Future" epitomizes the Wild Stawberries sound--quirky and groovy chord progressions featuring strong guitar work and percussion. One of the bast tracks, "Bitter" is a biting, energetic punkwave track that sounds like a hybrid of Pat Benatar and Goldfrapp.

"Nothing to Hide" utilizes a discotheque-y beat, sharp synth line and hooky guitar lead resulting in a mesmerizing genre-bending piece of groove-pie. "When the Fever Breaks" is a more laid-back and downtempo song that pays off with its leisurely verse and singable chorus. An incredibly solid listen from start to finish, Deformative Years is proof-positive of the Wild Strawberries' staying power.--Justin Elswick in Provo, Utah

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