The notions of luck, fate, chance and destiny are nothing new to popular music, but never have they been writ as large or as plainly as they have been for the newly-redirected Antigone Rising. “We were playing a show at Mohegan Sun Casino,” explains bassist / songwriter and founding member Kristen Henderson, “And after it was over, Nini (Camps, lead vocalist) said we could find her at the blackjack table losing money, and that her good-luck color and number were 23 red.” As it turned out, that was also the favored combination of the band’s guitar tech. The coincidences didn’t end there: “I went to Glen Cove High School,” Henderson explained, “the sports team there is the Big Reds, and my number was 23. Now, any time we play a show, we all put our hands in a circle and say ’23 red’ – it’s become kind of our band mantra for rebirth and staying together.”
Indeed, if there is a single notion that sums up the last three years in the life of Antigone Rising, it’s unity in the face of life’s uncertainty. In 2005, the band netting high-profile touring dates, opening for Rob Thomas, Aerosmith and The Rolling Stones. Just three short years later, bankability had yielded to unpredictability. Their chief ally at their label was unceremoniously fired and that unexpected turbulence, coupled with a lineup change, caused Henderson and the other members of Antigone Rising (Henderson’s sister, lead guitarist and founding member Cathy Henderson, and drummer Dena Taurillo) to step away from the band feeling the need to regroup and take time for themselves.
But though the band was on hiatus, the offers to perform continued. To help flesh out their live sound, the band recruited a friend of Henderson's, singer/songwriter Nini Camps. It wasn't long before it became obvious to everyone that her role in the band was meant to be much greater. It was during a string of dates opening for The Bangles, for which Kristen talked Nini into stepping into the vocalist role, that the new lineup coalesced, and the band was readier than ever for the second phase of their career – one that finds them ready to stare down chance and uncertainty, and to view life's unpredictability as an opportunity to grow stronger and more.
Those themes radiate throughout “23 Red,” which the band was able to make by raising support from their devoted fanbase through “Kickstarter “– another opportunity to turn an uncertain situation into solidarity. The band has shifted stylistically, too, displaying a growing fondness for the kind of warm, melodic country familiar to fans of Sugarland, Miranda Lambert and the Dixie Chicks. "I've always leaned more toward country music as a writer, so it isn’t such a stretch for me,' Henderson explains."Nini's an amazingly talented musician with a really great voice, and she writes undeniable songs.”
The fantastic lead single "Everywhere is Home" is the ideal reflection of this new direction: built around a sterling lead guitar by Cathy Henderson, and Camps' lush, hopeful voice, it celebrates the strong bonds of family and friendship, blending the harmonies of classic Fleetwood Mac with the easy tunefulness of Martina McBride.
"The first time I heard this song, I was like 'Nini, this is why I need you in this band -- because you write songs like this.'" "No Remedy" is gritty as a gravel road, a recollection of a bitter breakup that radiates the kind of heartache typically found in a Lucinda Williams song. That the song opens into a bright chorus, gleaming with mile-high harmonies, is further proof of the band's newfound confidence.
That certainty shines through on the slower numbers, too. The fragile "Borrowed Time" is a meditation on mortality that Camps and Henderson wrote with their children in mind. "Nini and I were saying as we wrote this song, '"If we had one more night on earth to give the kids the best advice we could, what would that advice be?' and it's in the chorus: 'The only thing we take with us is love.' "It's a life lesson learned through both reward and sacrifice, and one that Antigone Rising is poised anew to deliver. "This is a brand new chapter," says Henderson. "We're all friends, we've been through a lot, but now more than ever, we're all in it together."
“23 Red” has a little something for everyone, great guitars, strong bass, thundering drums and especially, vocals and harmonies. It’s great to hear music other than the “cookie cutter” mess that clogs our ears today. The cd travels along showcasing “sing- a- long worthy” songs like: “Pink Sunglasses” and “Everywhere Is Home” with lyrics like: “Too many times, we’ve been deceived, haunted by bitter memories. Let’s throw them on the fire, one by one.” It also visits slow ballads like: “Breaking Me.” Musically, it reaches out to different genres of music, plucks the right ingredients and places them into a mixture that sonically… is right on point. One of my personal favorites; “No Remedy” is sure to get heavy air play. Starbucks worldwide will add two songs from "23 Red" into regular in-store rotation ("Everywhere is Home" & “Gracefully"). Antigone Rising is a band that I would love to see live.
I want to thank their manager, Julie Rader, for sending me this cd to enjoy.
For more information on Antigone Rising, visit www.antigonerising.com/