Christie Huff is a country singer from Mesa, Arizona that now calls Los Angeles home, and Roll the Dice is an album filled with contemporary country music.
Huff is at her best when she tamps down the instrumentation to let that sweet voice of hers shine. “Summer Love,” for example, rolls gently to a slightly reggae beat. Huff is mostly supported by acoustic guitar on this track, which is also highlighted with some lovely mandolin. Due to the track’s easygoing nature, it gives Huff a chance to sing meditatively about a love that is so closely tied with the warmest of seasons. Huff also includes an acoustic version of the song “Lost in Translation,” which is just Huff singing over an acoustic guitar. “Maybe we got lost in translation,” Huff suggests with it, when trying to comprehend why her relationship lacks necessary communication.
You know right away this album ain’t your parents’ Tammy Wynette music, for instance, when she sings, “I’ll call for a restraining order against you” during “Country Breakup Song.” These are the sort of forward, blunt words we’ve come to expect from Carrie Underwood and – to a lesser degree – from Miranda Lambert. She also sings these words on it: “You deserve another country breakup song from me,” which is a line that would have fit right in with a Taylor Swiftsong -- if, of course, she still sang music for the country genre. The instrumental track for this one is built upon a rock guitar groove, but Huff's producer keeps it country with banjo coloring.
However, when Huff sings, “What you are is extra-terrestrial” during “Walk Away” she doesn’t sound quite so country at all. It’s doubtful the term ‘extra-terrestrial’ has been used in a country song recently, if ever at all. It’s kinda cool to hear it now. Huff vocalizes gently over this piano-based tune. “I never should have walked away,” she tells us, with no small measure of regret.
This album’s title track begins, unusually, with the sort of electric guitar intro that will immediately remind Christian music fans of a Chris Tomlin song. It’s not a Tomlin song, of course, but another sort of confrontational song that would fit more comfortably in Carrie Underwood’s repertoire. Even so, Huff is not completely closed to the relationship described within having a future when she asks, “Come on, what happened to us?” Chances aren’t good, if you're a betting person, but there’s still a chance of survival.
One of the album’s weaker songs is called “Give It Up.” It’s one of those ‘leave the past behind’ kind of songs that just lacks something. Maybe it’s missing passion. Perhaps its words are just all too familiar and trite. Whatever the case, it simply falls flat.
Another titled “Rock Star” gives into a troubling country music trend of calling itself country, yet singing about rock & roll. If country artists are so quick to drop the names of rock musicians and rock songs, as well as – in this case – expressing love for a rock performer, why don’t artists just sing rock & roll and call themselves rock artists? It’s not a bad song; it’s just that sometimes country music gets the least respect from country artists themselves, which is the real shame.
Christie Huff has the vocal chops to compete in the contemporary realm, and Roll the Dice is a musical gamble that pays off.