Kira Isabella was born on September 18, 1993 in Ottawa, Ontario. She cites her musical influences as being Faith Hill, Sheryl Crow, Shania Twain, and Taylor Swift. She has toured with the likes of Carrie Underwood and Terri Clark. Kira’s debut album LOVE ME LIKE THAT was released in 2012. That year she won the Canadian Country Music Association’s ‘Rising Star’ award. In 2013 she was named the Canadian Country Music Association’s ‘Female Artist of the Year’. Her current album CAFFEINE & BIG DREAMS (2014, Legend North/Sony) is nominated for a Juno award for ‘Country Album of the Year’. She says: “One of the main things that I want to convey is growth-not only as a vocalist and a songwriter, but personally as well...Some of the music is definitely autobiographical. It’s almost like opening up a journal and sharing it with everybody. I didn’t mean for this record to be as personal as it ended up being, but it truly is”. The album was produced by Mark Liggett and Jerry Lane, with David Corey and Warren Copnick serving as executive producers.
‘Shake it if ya Got It’ is an energetic modern country song written by Kira, Eliot Sloan, and Jason Phelps. It is all about having a good time: “All the girls with their red hot lips/Wearin’ their long hair down/All the boys talkin’ about all us girls/And passin’ that jar around/We got the radio playing our favorite songs/Cowboy boots and our blue jeans on/The girls look pretty from top to bottom/C’mon everybody/Shake it if ya got it”. One of the co-writers on ‘Gone Enough’ is Deric Ruttan. It is the song of one very hurt gal: “My friends tell me that you/Were hangin’ all over a brunette last Saturday/I didn’t wanna believe/But now you’re tellin’ me you’re needin’ a little more space/Well, let me help you out/Baby, how about/Gone-how about so long/Forget about you, we’re through/I’m movin’ on/How ‘bout I pack that truck, pop that clutch/Leave you here in a cloud of dust?/You said space, but you didn’t say how much/Is gone enough? (2X)” Bobby Hamrick, Rivers Rutherford, and Marti Dodson wrote the lead single ‘Quarterback’. It is a moving ballad that tells a tragic tale of date rape and cyberbullying: “She got out at a bonfire party/Never had a drink before/But he held it to her lips as she took her first sip/And before she knew it she had three more/She always heard that a girl’s first time/Is a memory she’ll never forget/She found out the hard way about love/When she saw those pictures on the Internet”.
‘Coke Can’ is a ballad about a lost love: “Now I’m driving home, feeling all alone/Tears wellin’ up in my eyes/Are you happy now?/Who do you think about?/I had it all when you were mine/And I’m missin’ you tonight/All because I saw a Coke can in some guy’s hand/Took me back to those college nights/We were running on caffeine and big dreams/I would have given you my life/These memories are all I have”. ‘Hey Love’ is a gritty country tune in the vein of Carrie Underwood musically and vocally. Many a woman will be able to relate to these thoughts: “Don’t you think that I’ve had enough?/Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey love/Hey love, you always come a knockin’ and I always open up the door/It only takes a bit of sweet talkin’/Messes with my head and/You’ve got me comin’ back for more/I’m kinda dizzy/What’s wrong with me?/I should say no and walk away”.
‘Ring Around It’ is a country rock number about a gal who is not easy: “If you’re melting like the ice in my sweet tea/And if these legs in these short shorts are killing you baby/Don’t even think about it/’Til my finger’s got a ring around it/I know my kisses turn it up a little hotter/Yeah, and I don’t mean to cause a bunch of drama/But don’t even think about it/’Til my finger’s got a ring around it”. ‘Make a Sinner Out of Me’ seems to be about spiritual warfare: “Momma taught me young/The right from the wrong/The bad from the good, the shouldn’t from the should/And the weak from the strong/But when you kiss me boy/It all goes away/I could sell my soul and be glad that I sold it/Every single day.../Oh Lord, you’ve got to help me/His blue eyes are about to melt me/Please give me strength to hold on/Boy, you’re gonna make a sinner out of me”.
‘A Night Like This’ is a modern country ballad penned by Kira, Kevin Fox, and Jason Phelps. It deals with romance: “Every girl wants a night like this/Full moon, first love, first kiss/A Luke Bryan song playin’ on the radio/Somewhere in the distance/We could just let the night end/Walk away from the feelin’/Or take a chance, tonight, first kiss/Every girl wants a night like this”. ‘Country’s Written All Over Me’ is an upbeat country song that finds Kira in love with a 6 foot 6 man known as Country: “It’s written on my lips in shiny hot pink/On my bedroom wall in permanent ink/And on my smile every time he kisses me/Country’s written all over me/July night, full moon/I did what my momma told me never to do/I got a tattoo, now the world can see/I love Country/Yea, I love Country/Country’s written all over me/It’s written in ink on my left arm/Six feet high on my daddy’s barn/Forever for the world to see/Country’s written all over me”.
Kira and David Thomson wrote ‘Late Bloomer’. It finds a mother encouraging her daughter: “Hey, late bloomer/You don’t have to fly sooner/You can take your time before you take off/They may all fly by/You’re gonna catch ‘em when it’s time/And know, there’s nothing wrong/You’re just a little late bloomer, that’s all/Don’t ya grow up too fast/Keep trying even if you’re last/You can walk/You don’t have to run”. ‘Heaven’ is a strong inspirational song that finds Kira longing for intimacy: “Hearts don’t beat to be alone/Hold me close, don’t you let me go/I’m right here and you’re right there/We can have a little bit of heaven/We can’t stay forever young/But you can stay till the morning comes/Before the dawn, before the tears/We can have a little bit of heaven here”.
In the liner notes Kira writes: “I would like to start by thanking GOD. I cannot put into words how grateful I am for this journey”. CAFFEINE & BIG DREAMS is exactly the kind of country album a lady in her early twenties should be making! It includes several fun, upbeat, dance-worthy tracks, mixed in with a handful of emotional and heartfelt ballads. Kira has a lovely voice and the instrumentation here is quite skillful. By and large, for a mainstream album the lyrics aren’t too objectionable. The photos of Kira included with this project are beautiful. I’m rating CAFFEINE & BIG DREAMS 90%. You can catch Kira in concert this summer at The Calgary Stampede and the Boots and Hearts festival in Ontario, Canada. For more info visit: www.kiraisabella.ca.