Bering Strait

Bering Strait – 2003 (Universal South)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

CDs by Bering Strait

With a journey through the murky waters of the music industry so compelling there has already been an indie film made about Bering Strait even before their debut album's release, it is too bad that this Nashville-via-Russia band can't come up with a more interesting set of music to complement the story. The short version: Seven classically trained, but bluegrass-crazy teenagers from Russia form a band, travel to Nashville and get signed, only to wait four years and change labels five times, unable to work in the meantime and nearly bankrupting their manager in the process.

The end result is a rather mundane pop-country disc that favors husky, yet indistinctive female vocals in a Jamie O'Neal style. The music is an acoustic-heavy mix, but it rarely drifts far from current Nashville sounds. Two exceptions are buried at the very end of the album: A tempo-shifting instrumental, "Bearing Straight," that suggests the Nickel Creek-like band they may have been before the star-making machinery grabbed hold; and the juiced-up traditional Russian tune, "Porushka-Paranya."