Risa Binder shines at The Rutledge; Kristen Brassel starts strong


Bubbling with a sunny disposition and a powerful voice, Risa Binder dazzled on the stage at Nashville's Rutledge on Thursday (June 26). Vaulting through a slew of her originals, including the title track to her fortchoming Nashville EP (out Aug. 5), the singer demonstrated impressive restraint. When the crowd attempted to anticipate her next vocal run, she threw curve ball after curve ball, pulling back when the melody would typically call for power notes.

Binder launched her set with her current pop-country single "Gotta Have You," a plucky tune that samples Lady Antebellum and Taylor Swift. It's a head-bobbin' good time, and her backup singers delivered precisely-crafted harmonies, wrapped neatly in an "ooo" chant. So, it's no real surprise that the infectious jam is already getting spins on Sirius XM, which has become the new gateway to breaking talented acts. Could Binder be next in line?

The captivating performer proceeded to deliver a truly diverse set, which included performances of such songs as "Ready To Fall" (a new tune written with Alan Bennet), "Paper Heart" and her EP's title track. In between performances, Binder resorted to humor to fill the dead space; her professionalism and ease on stage is admirable. She's honed her instincts and skills as a markedly stylistic performer.

Binder then followed with even more passionate cuts, "Second Time Around" among them. The highlight of her performance was the tender "Easy To Remember," a song penned by "Strawberry Wine" cowriter Matraca Berg. If there ever was a song that needed to be heard, this was it. It packs an emotional punch, and Binder's delivery proved what an exceptional storyteller she really is.

She ended her too-short show with the rock-fused "Light It Up," wrapping a wonderful showcase of talent.

Of course, the evening began with singer-songwriter Kristen Brassel, whose voice harkens to early Trisha Yearwood. With a guitar in hand, she strummed and grooved through several originals and covers, which included The Band Perry's "Done" (a powerful, electric performance) and Little Big Town's "Sober" (one of the finest and more intimate moments). Not only does she root her music in traditional flavor but her unique blend is far more appealing than most on maimstream radio.

Her set highlighted such impressive songs as "Undone" and "Housewive's Prayer," both equally alluring and gritty tunes, off her Do You Know Kristen Brassel? EP.

But the most interesting and most impressive moment of the evening came with her "Like A Waylon Tune," an answer song to Waylon Jennings' "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys." Her songwriting, above all else, is as polished and relatable as that of Luke Laird, Hillary Lindsey and Brett James. Nashville would be wise to sign her to a publishing deal right now.

Brassel also performed "Love In Lightning Never Strikes Twice" and "Mistake I Need To Make."


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