Nina Gordon - Tonight and the Rest of My Life
Former Veruca Salt member Nina Gordon has delivered a spectacular debut solo CD. Gordon was the more pop oriented member of Veruca Salt, and her pop sensibilities shine through on this CD. She is an excellent songwriter, weaving complex and interesting storylines over catchy melodies of many different styles and delivers a powerful vocal performance. Tonight And The Rest Of My Life is one of the best CDs released so far this year.
Nina Gordon: Tonight and the Rest of My Life (Warner Bros.)
There are always two parties involved in a break up - the person doing the breaking up and the person who has been broken up with. In the case of Veruca Salt, Nina Gordon is the person who did the breaking up and Louise Post was the person who had been broken up with. It's important to keep this in mind when examining the latest albums by Nina Gordon and Veruca Salt.
Louise Post sounds angry, confused, betrayed, and hurt on Veruca Salt's Resolver. There is no doubt that many of the lyrics are directed at her former songwriting partner (and best friend), Nina Gordon. The dumped person is usually bitter and wants the breaker-upper to suffer as much as they did. On the other hand, the person doing the breaking up broke up with their partner for a reason - whatever that reason may be. The person who did the breaking up (Nina in this case) is ready to move forward with their life. They are ready to show off the "brand new me" while speaking very little of their former partner. And when the former partner is mentioned, it's usually in a positive tone.
How does this relate to Nina's solo album you ask? Well, what I hear throughout the twelve original tracks and one cover is someone who is ready to move forward, who embraces a pop sensibility that may have been lost in the previous relationship. Truth be told, if you go back and pull out the Nina songs from the Veruca Salt CDs, you'll see that the pop side was always there, sandwiched between fierce rockers. I don't believe Nina's CD is a great departure in songwriting styles, though she does lean towards an older audience with her sugarcoated pop.
After repeated listens, I have fallen head-over-heels with the storyline behind the second song on the CD, "2003." The lyrics are the things that Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movies are made of. In the song, Nina tells someone (an ex-band mate? an ex-boyfriend?) that she needs some time on her own, to explore life and to see what is out there. But then she makes a promise that she'll return to a special place that only she and the person she is singing to know about in the year 2003. She asks the person, "Will you wait for me?" How many of us wish they had made a similar pact with an ex, whether it is an ex-lover or an ex-friend. By 2003 maybe Nina and this person will have drifted apart, but at least they will know for sure, that is, as long as the subject of the song shows up (and I hope he or she does).
Nina also explores a somewhat rural route on the CD, primarily on the track "Horses in the City" which features a slide guitar. It is simple and sweet and not overdone. While the album is primarily mid-tempo rockers (save for the Juliana Hatfield-sounding "Badway"), the slide guitar offers a nice diversion. Additionally, the cover of the Skeeter Davis song "The End of the World" couldn't have been a better way to end the CD. All in all, Nina really gets to show off her beautiful voice rather than hiding behind the guitar rock sound that she experienced while a member of Veruca Salt.
Maybe I'm getting old, but Nina's adult-oriented rock has really captured my ears, and while I usually preferred Louise Post's songwriting when the two were together, I find Nina's album an easier listen than Resolver. It will be interesting to see if the break up lasts or if Nina and Louise go running back into each other's arms. (Chip Midnight)
Visions of Heart, right around the time Ann Wilson was putting on the pounds, goes through one's mind while listening to former Veruca Salt co-founder Nina Gordon's debut album Tonight and the Rest of My Life. Yet these dreams aren't rock & roll ones, they're slow-chewing pop nuggets with ready-made radio hooks and plenty of introspection. If Gordon's last album with Veruca Salt, Eight Arms to Hold You, was a blurry night of group hedonism, then Tonight is a quiet evening at home --alone, naturally, in fine Heart '87 fashion-- with a nice cabernet and self-help book.
Suffice to say, Tonight is more tuneful than any Veruca Salt album. Besides the monster, bandwagon-jumping "Seether," Veruca Salt hasn't contributed much to the pop landscape. "Seether" came at the right time with just enough muscle --and Breeders-like panache-- to score. The band's two albums with Gordon are messy, ill-conceived affairs; its attempt to make itself over as a primal hard rock outfit sans testicles on Eight Arms was just plain wrongheaded. On Tonight Gordon wants to go straight (while Louise Post gracelessly leads the band on a new album), and nearly succeeds.
But she's a little too fond of cheeseball pop and attached to their sticky arrangements. Strings adorn many of these (mostly mid-tempo) songs. Even a biting track like "Now I Can Die" ("I'm the girl and he's the guy/ He opened up my eyes/I understand everything and now I can die") loses some of its irony when washed in the pretty melodies Gordon supplies. But they are pretty nonetheless. And producer Bob Rock provides enough sonic strength to prevent these tunes from sinking in pathos. Still, "Seether" fans may balk at the sheer adultness of the sweeping title track or Gordon's choice to end her first album with an appropriately straight-faced cover of Skeeter Davis' ripe weeper "The End of the World." But it shouldn't come as a surprise by that point. Throughout Tonight Gordon asks, What about love? And the memory of the Wilson sisters answer back, Don't let it slip away. Gordon takes the task to heart.
-- Michael Gallucci --
Tonight and the Rest of My Life
*** out of four
Gordon was one of two singers and songwriters in Veruca Salt, whose 1994 breakthrough, Seether, was a minor classic of snarling pop-punk volatility. Subsequent Veruca was even more of a rock assault, so it confounds expectations to hear the pop polish of Gordon's solo debut. Her songs contain traces of Blondie and The Bangles, Sarah McLachlan and Madonna (the ballad aspect), and more than just traces of Aimee Mann. That may sound derivative, but the material is derived from reliable sources, and the influences are adeptly integrated into a profusion of compelling tunes, articulate lyrics and affecting vocals. Standouts include the title track, Horses in the City and Hate Your Way, but aside from a tendency to skimp on the verse melodies (compensating with killer choruses, some of which provide a helpful rock edge) and an anticlimactic cover of Skeeter Davis' 1963 chestnut The End of the World, the album is a consistent pleasure. - Ken Barnes
Tonight and the Rest of My Life
Oh Nina, fair Nina -- wherefore art thy rock and roll, Nina Gordon? Wasn't it just yesterday that Gordon and fellow guitarist/vocalist Louise Post were marshaling the forces of Veruca Salt, a band full of pure grain gumption that rocked out harder than pretty much any of the other girls or boys?
But last year Veruca Salt broke up; and while Post opted to keep on seething under the Veruca banner, Gordon dusted herself off and recorded Tonight and the Rest of My Life, a breezy and whimsical little jaunt through starry-eyed gazes and whispered sweet nothings.
"I know it's not in fashion/wearing heartache on your sleeve," Gordon admits on "New Year's Eve." Indeed, Tonight covers both its sleeves with an assortment of uninhibited heartaches and pangs and infatuations, but not once do the proceedings get violent or nasty. "Now I Can Die" opens the album with a goofy paean to the object of Gordon's infatuation -- "He likes to try on all my clothes/but not my underwear." Elsewhere, Gordon addresses such decidedly un-Salty issues as true love and commitment ("2003"), forgiveness ("Tonight and the Rest of My Life"), true love and commitment ("New Year?s Eve"), identity ("Badway"), and, uh, true love and commitment ("Hold On To Me," "Fade to Black," "The End of the World").
Tonight does make a passing attempt or two at revisiting the world of loud and distorted guitar rock, but the results are surprisingly (and unapologetically) upbeat. "I should probably sorta miss you," Gordon sings over rolling fields of hand claps in "Number One Camera." Instead of sounding mean and dismissive, the song comes across as remarkably ... mature. And kind of well-adjusted. And sort of prepared to cope with life's injustices in a healthy way.
And whether or not "Number One Camera" (or "Hate Your Way," or any of the album's other songs about sundered relationships) is "actually" about Louise Post is sort of a moot point. For the most part, Tonight steers thankfully clear of overt swipes at Gordon's former bandmate, "New Year's Eve" being the only notable exception. Gordon can't help but admit that this is "a glamorous evening for most/and normally I'd be upstaging the Post." For a second the song lingers cartoonishly-- Get it? Get it? The Post? -- and it's the album's sole smirk, the only concession here that the world might not be entirely made up of hope, promise, and wistful longings. "It's time to leave those dark days behind us," Gordon pledges in "Hold On To Me." Maybe life's too short to be wasted on seething after all.
Tonight And The Rest Of My Life
PRODUCER: Bob Rock
Warner Bros. 47746
On her solo debut, Nina Gordon proves that there is, indeed, life after Veruca Salt, the band she so-founded and then divorced herself from two years ago. In fact, there's not only life but a whole new range of artistry that is just now rearing its beautiful head. With "Tonight And The Rest Of My Life," singer/songwriter/guitarist Gordon has delivered a sterling - and summer-fueled (think the Go-Go's) - collection that is equal parts pop, rock, and alternative. Tracks like "Badway," "Hold On To Me," "Number One Camera," "Hate Your Way," "Got Me Down," and the title track (the set's first single) reveal an artist who knows the importance of hook-laden melodies and smart, at times, vulnerable, lyrics. Throughout the set - all originals except the sublime cover of Skeeter Davis' early-'60s hit "The End Of The World," later covered by the Carpenters - Gordon remains exuberant, passionate, and honest. Never has she sounded so alive.
"What a wondrous major-label debut from Nina Gordon, former guitarist for the now-reconfigured Veruca Salt. Effortlessly sung, enchantingly written by the artist, and produced with precision and emotional gusto, this dreamy, guitar-laden balled neatly walks the line between AC schmaltz and edgy modern adult. Lyrically, Gordon sings of feeling weightless and alive amid an eyescape of stars and glitter; it's perhaps a metaphor for love, or on the dishy side, a declaration of emancipation from her former band. But however one chooses to interpret it, there's no denying the magnetism of the song's melody and structure, with a chorus so lovely that it easily draws emotion and a captivating bridge that makes this song an absolute bull's-eye, even after scores of repeated plays. Gordon has such a jewel in "Tonight And The Rest Of My Life." Here's hoping that radio opens its ears to hear the majesty behind this gifted new solo star-in-the-making. This track is indeed one of the year's best surprises."
Tonight and the Rest of My Life
Label: Warner Bros.
File Under: Hold the salt
Rating: 67 out of 100
Early in her band's career, Veruca Salt co-founder Nina Gordon characterized the group's sound as being "based on thick, intense harmonies and driving, distorted guitars." True enough, but as a self-described slave to melodies, Gordon often offset co-writer Louise Post's bash-and-pop rave-ups with a gift for sly hooks and quirky balladry. It's no surprise, then, that Gordon forsakes Veruca Salt's punkish bluster on her solo debut for a more balanced approach. What is surprising is the extent to which Gordon has shed her riot-grrrl beginnings in favor of a more, ahem, mature style.
Though Tonight and the Rest of My Life brandishes a couple of revved-up rockers reminiscent of Gordon's musical past (specifically, "Badway" and "Number One Camera"), the CD steers mostly toward introspective ballads and mid-tempo pop. On "Horses in the City," and "Got Me Down," for instance, Gordon offers up first-person ruminations about fractured relationships. Similarly, "Hate Your Way" finds the narrator "selling her soul" for someone who's "so rock and roll."
Musically, Tonight's layered guitars and meticulous arrangements often bring to mind the work of Aimee Mann, and indeed, Gordon's reedy (but pleasant) vocals bring to mind Mann as well. Particularly on the title track and on her version of the much-covered classic, "The End of the World," Gordon unveils a naked yearning that veers close to something one might hear on adult-contemporary radio.
In fact, if there's any complaint to be leveled at this otherwise fine debut, it's that Gordon is occasionally over-earnest. Where her work in Veruca Salt was often tempered with irony, Tonight and the Rest of My Life is fairly straight-faced and dear-diary-esque. Gordon may not have shed her old musical skin completely, but on a sliding scale between brash upstart and vulnerable chanteuse, Tonight leans emphatically towards the latter. Russell Hall
Tonight and The Rest Of My Life
70 out of ? (I know that it is average)
On Volcano Girls from Veruca Salt's 1997 album Eight Arms to Hold You, Nina Gordon cooed, "Here's a little secret, you see/The seether's Louise." Indeed, Louise Post, was the force that gave Veruca Salt its abrasive edge. Without her, Gordon is an entirely different musical animal. Her sugary purring vocals are still recognizable. But while a couple of tracks ("Badway" and "Number One Camera") rock kind of hard, they're closer to Joan Jett than the Scorpions.
This album marks a pivotal career change for Gordon. Tonight and for the Rest of My Life single handedly removes her from the bad girl's club and redefines her as a Lilith like pop artist. The title track, with its etheral vocals and weepy strings could even be Sarah McLachlan. Elsewhere on the album Gordon completely explores passionate balladry, bubbly pop, and plaintive, strummy folk. Lyrically, she tackles familiar subjects (relationships, relationships, relationships)while taking an occasional jab at her exbandmate. The barbs aren't nearly as seething as those on Veruca Salt's new album, but part of becoming a "nice girl" is learning how to forgive and forget.
I did not transcribe this. I forgot who did.. but whoever you are, thank you.