Bering Strait: Pages

Several years ago Being Strait set sail from Russia to Nashville on their pilgrimage to become country music stars. Fraught with uncertainty after getting juggled by various labels, they made their long-awaited self-titled debut in 2003, a strong showing that maturely mixed country, bluegrass, and rock. Bering Strait was finally on the musical map, but they didn’t attain the type of immediate success or stardom that they may have been hoping for.

Their second voyage, Pages, may not do much to earn them superstar status, but it will solidify themselves as credible and talented artists who have what it takes to make the big breakthrough they so desire. And in the hands of the dexterous Ilya Toshinsky and with the vocal chops of Natasha Borzilova, Bering Strait’s future remains promising.

Where Bering Strait was a listen for a date on a Saturday night, Pages is one for the porch on a Sunday afternoon. In comparison to its predecessor, Pages is a little flimsy; it’s softer and slower to the point of feeling intentionally restrained, and this may disappoint fans of the first album.

Pages also feels like it’s missing a few numbers that would make it sturdier, especially when considering two instrumental pieces (the meandering “From Ankarra To Izmir” and the winsome “What’s For Dinner”). Furthermore, the sequencing is a little flawed (the longing “Safe In My Lover’s Arms” would be better off closing the album than opening it) and the disc drags a little in the middle.

But there are some spots worth bookmarking-particularly the banjo’d version of Fleetwood Mac’s “You Make Lovin’ Fun” and Borzilova’s soaring singing on the choruses of “Long Time Comin'” and “Choose Your Partner”.

As before, Borzilova’s lyrics focus on relationships, but here she expands thematically with quasi-utopian visions (“Just Imagine”) and historical accounts that may have some bearing in our world today (“Pages”): “And it’s hard to clearly see what’s right in ordinary light/Does the truth filter down through the ages.”

With all their talent, Bering Strait is bound to attract the kind of following of an influence like Nickel Creek. Pages may be a little hard to turn at times, but for Bering Strait, it’s one chapter closer to the walk of fame.

Standout Tracks: “Long Time Comin'”, “You Make Lovin’ Fun”, “Choose Your Partner”

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