With Remnants, established country singer LeeAnn Rimes completely leaves the country genre behind and embraces adult contemporary…maybe.
Truth be told, the album is a confusing mish-mash of genres. Rimes moves from power ballads to adult contemporary to a more folk music sound to soft coffeeshop acoustics from song to song. Gospel choirs, fuzzy guitars, and loud drums provide backing on almost every song, whether the song is set in a genre lending itself to gospel choirs or not. A song like “Love Line”, which lends itself to a country music aesthetic due to the handclaps, twang, and Alison Krauss-esque vocals is instantly followed up by the slow and sultry “Outrageous Love,” a wannabe James Bond theme. And sometimes, the song can’t even settle on a genre to begin with. With “Long Live Love,” a backing gospel choir intersects with a prominent snare drum part which intersects with faint fuzzy guitars which then intersects with snaps, creating a final product that’s slightly schizophrenic.
If there’s anything close to a unifying force on this album, it’s Rimes’s voice. She wrenches heartache and emotion out of every song she’s offered, more often than not ending up with a powerful, Adele-ish belt. It’s amazing for the first few songs, but by the time the album reaches the halfway point, it’s a bit stale. There’s nothing wrong with belting, of course: Rimes is an amazing belter. It’s simply that almost every song features Rimes building up to a belt in the chorus. The highlights of the album are when Rimes embraces her softer side, as shown by her upper register: “Mother”, a slow piano ballad, particularly stands out. The beautiful way her voice lilts through the higher notes brings a much-needed tender sensitivity to the album.
As an aside, I get that love is an easy subject to write about. But this album has songs titled “Love Line,” “Outrageous Love’, “Long Live Love,” and “Love is Love is Love,” among plenty of other songs that also talk about love. The word “love” is starting to not look like a word anymore in my writer’s notes.
The first single released is “The Story,” a cover of the Brandi Carlisle song. Rimes’s version is a fairly straightforward cover, getting loud when the Carlisle original got loud, pulling back when the Carlisle version pulled back, just putting less emphasis on the guitars and more emphasis on Rimes’s harmonies. It’s certainly powerful. As Rimes belts the chorus, you feel the power and the intensity within her voice. No matter what song’s offered to her, she pours her heart and soul into it.
I wish that the album had a more unified production. The producers on the album include Darrell Brown (a frequent collaborator with Rimes, who’s also worked with Keith Urban and Josh Turner) and Mark Batson (a producer who’s frequently worked with Alicia Keys and Eminem.) That pairing alone shows just how disjointed the album is: Remnants never settles on anything remotely cohesive. Still, Rimes’s powerful vocals are the stars of the show, something that the album knows and spotlights. Her voice doesn’t entirely save this confusing mess of an album, but she certainly makes a valiant attempt.