Like the old saying "you're beautiful when you're angry," Carmen Rodgers sounds really good when she's bitter. And she effectively captures the stages of hurt, anger and resignation of a love gone bad on her new EP, The Bitter Suite.
It's been six years since the Dallas-based singer won a sizable number of fans with her debut album, Free, and those fans have been not-so-patiently waiting for more. Rodgers' full sophomore disc, Intermission, a complete story of a relationship gone good, then bad, then good again, will be coming later this Summer; but she is now issuing a big chunk of it (the "gone bad" part) with the digital release of The Bitter Suite.
Rodgers lets the listener (and her man) know from the get go where things stand, opening with a defiant tone on the neo-soul midtempo, "Tell Your Story": "Tell your story at the door / 'cause I've heard it all before / and now I'm not so sure if I want this love anymore." By the time of the terrific next song, the acoustic gem "Home," Carmen is more reflective but just as resolved to end the relationship: "You say you want to come home / but home is where the heart lived / and I just want to move on / so should you."
Male listeners be a bit unnerved by the interspersed table talk of a group of women throughout the disc, who verbally lump men into a pretty bad lot of liars and cheaters. And Rodgers feeds on that talk, vowing not to get hurt anymore on the nervous, jazzy "Never Again," another EP highlight. But as the disc approaches its coda, she begins to come around, realizing that there may be some value in all that damn pain, and she finishes in a more pensive mood on the ballad, "Better U Than Me."
The Bitter Suite has the benefit of holding together quite well as a thematic piece and having songs (particularly "Home," "Tell Your Story" and "Never Again") that can stand on their own as singles. But, like opening a book in the middle, one can't help but want to hear the whole story that surrounds The Bitter Suite, one that will be told on the full album, Intermission. For now Rodgers fans can celebrate the welcome, enjoyable return of the Texas musical chanteuse. But they'll want more...soon. Recommended.
By Chris Rizik