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Ronni Rae Rivers: Press

RONNI RAE RIVERS
WHOLE HEART TO GIVE (Shock-Arts WA)

DRINKING, CHEATING AND MAMA

"She said God please take back these presents/ cause the only things I want are for Daddy to stop drinking and for mama to come home." - Things I Want - Ronni Rae Rivers-Bruce Holloway-Colin Street.
Ronni Rae Rivers has impeccable genetics for the artistic bent necessary to fuel the staples of her genre.

The Perth singer mined the motherlode of a well-traversed terrain to reap roughage from the frailties of human nature on her second album, cut in Sydney and the NSW Central Coast.

She milks melancholia from a few little things like drinking, death, ruptured romance, philandering philistines and a true love or two.

And, not surprisingly, her pinnacle is the pathos primed Things I Want - one of five originals on a 13-song disc.

This was not a yuletide release but it's the flip side of Christmas that makes it such a poignant parable.

"It was a silent night and nothing stirred/ as she crept down to the tree/ a log still crackled in the fireplace/ he watched his little girl kneel."

The tear-drenched daughter makes a passionate plea for her sire to stop drinking and her mother to return.

Well, not even little girls always get what they want - mama is still in heaven, not the other doomsday domicile, with no existential exit.

But poppa, "lost in a whiskey memory with a fade photograph," takes the pledge.

Yes, they still write songs like this - but not many score airplay.

It's unlikely this is autobiographical so let's climb the tree - family not Christmas - for insight.

Rivers' dad is a Texas raised military man with Irish and Cherokee blood.

He met her mum - an actress of Welsh and Scottish descent - in Sydney.

Ronni was born in Sydney, raised in Perth and Texas, and graduated from university with a degree in Astrophysics.

Now, the singer's sire might share Cherokee and Texas traits with Billy Joe Shaver but, unlike the Waco wild man, it's more likely he turns the other cheek rather than shoots bar flies in the cheek.

WAITING ON LONELY

"Because I hear your voice on the telephone/ it's me and the moon and we're both alone/ miles through my hair and the road under my feet/ 300 miles of thoughts to go/ I won't lose my soul, I'm not waitin' on lonely, lonely's waitin' on me." - Waiting on Lonely - Ronni Rae Rivers-Clementine.
Rivers also takes a stroll down desolation row, perhaps astrophysical, to create the haunting feel of Waiting On Lonely - perhaps a sibling song of the vitriolic album finale Stranded.

It's quite clear the villain is a philanderer, not a stamp collector, as the female lead throws away his car keys and suggests he change his mode of transportation to kite or thumb.

And there's a death driven, tossed side salad - "you bought the farm/ I bought your lines."

But let's revert to the album entrée - Whole Heart To Give - where the character deals in tough love to banish her beau.

Her heart is half empty - not half full - so she pours her lover down the sink to ensure his eternal freedom.

It's a stark contrast to the sentiments of The Fire In Your Eyes where the lovelorn lass chances her cold, cold heart on a new brightly burning flame.

It's a test of blind faith as Rivers sings: "I think I've come too far to turn around and go back now."

The singer's co-writer is veteran Music City chart topping hit songsmith Byron Hill.

RUNNING ON FUMES

"The one good thing about a devil-eyed Joe, you know/ bad love cheatin man only makes you stronger/ rather be gun shy next time than holding on." - Running On Fumes - Tia Sellers-Clay Mills-Melanie Torres.

And that's where we introduce Rivers covers - albeit a nice little earner for expatriate Australasian Barry Coburn whose publishing princess Tia Sellers is one of the writers of the riveting road tune Running On Fumes.

Rivers is convincing in her role as the no longer patient cheating and drinking victim who decamps from her tormentor in a nocturnal retreat down a two-lane dirt road on a wing and prayer for the next Texaco.

She covers all shades of romance in the regret fuelled ode to hedonism in Burned Too Bright, more cheating in Look It Up, sharing heartache and soul fuel in power ballad Can You Let Somebody Else Be Strong, with Randall Waller the duet partner.

I Would Want To and I Think Of You provide a delicious déjà vu dose of nostalgia and Broken is a lachrymose lesson in reverse psychology.

"I know my heart will mend/ but until then/ the part of me that hides that hurt/ doesn't work."

And, for those long suffering gals at home on the range, there's another babes night-in anthem Cowboys Come Home.

The latter and I Would Want To gain traction with accompanying video clips, on CMC and Nu Country TV over summer.

And, for those, wishing to check out musicians it's a Trans-Pacific mating.

Randy Kohrs added dobro-background vocals, Tim Crouch mandolin and fiddle and Wes Hightower background vocals in Nashville.

Prolific Ted Mulry gang refugee produced and engineered the disc in Sydney with a vast cast - guitarists Mark Punch, Sturt French, James Gillard and Waller, Ian Lees on bass, drummers Glen Wilson and Mal Lancaster, Clayton Dolley organ-piano, Bill Risbey piano, Rod McCormack banjo, pedal steel guitarist Michel Rose and others.

And, of course, Rivers also plays fiddle and harmonises.
Dave's Diary - Nu Country (Dec 23, 2008)
The music coming out of Nashville makes me less hopeful of hearing classic country music.But,last year I found Bryen Willems making music in an unexpected place (Sydney) and now,Sydney-born Ronni Rae Rivers fills my need for a honky-tonk queen. With a degree in in astrophysics and two years of swetshop songwriting in Nashville, she doesn't sing anything fancy or urban dishonest. Her voice is sweet yet raw at the edges, and the songs reflect a variety of influences, from Waylon Jennings, to Bobby Gentry-ish drama, countrypolitan smoothness and even traces of The Rolling Stones.
"One of the most anticipated albums of 2008 will certainly be the new release for Ronni Rae Rivers, without doubt one of Australian country music's most dynamic artists"...Daryl Kirkup-CMR Nashville & 101.5FM Caboolture
Daryl Kirkup-DJ - CMR Nashville (2008)
Ronni Rae Rivers made quite a splash three years ago with her debut album Notice Me. But it’s this new release that really marks Ronni Rae’s arrival on the country scene. The album’s packed with strong, memorable songs delivered with passion, perception and power. Whole Heart To Give leaves no doubt that Ronni Rae has found her very own style and sound. It’s not surprising that five tracks were finalists in the recent ASA Songwriting Awards, or that the album’s two singles, Cowboys Come Home and I Would Want To is a standout track, along with the mesmerising duet with Randall Waller, Can You Let Somebody Else Be Strong? Also memorable are some of the huge ballads on the album, including the title tract Whole Heart To Give, Waiting On Lonely and the bluesy Running On Fumes. Ronni Rae’s included her own gutsy version of Look It Up, and it’s an absolute killer! This is an album that begs repeated listens, and rewards each of them with new understandings and delights.
Shock RRR003

SUSAN JARVIS
Capital News October 08
Susan Jarvis - Capital News Magazine (Oct 9, 2008)