Much-hyped Russian import Bering Strait finally materializes on Universal South, and the results work far more than just on a curiosity level. The sound is an interesting blend

Much-hyped Russian import Bering Strait finally materializes on Universal South, and the results work far more than just on a curiosity level. The sound is an interesting blend

of new-millennium country-pop, Nashville bluegrass, and European, ABBA-esque inflections. Witness the swelling and swaying "Tell Me Tonight" and the steady-rolling "When Going Home." Lead singer Natasha Borzilova has a jewel of a voice, gamely tackling a country waltz on "I Could Be Persuaded," but she is more at home on the atmospheric "I'm Not Missing You," the percolating "Jagged Edge of a Broken Heart," and the well-rendered "The Trouble With Love." Producer Maher is boldly up to the challenge, and the hard-charging instrumental "Bearing Strait" is ambitious and impressive, proving these guys have major chops; likewise the rousing Russian traditional "Porushka-Pranya," which rates a shot of Stoli. Bottom line, Bering Strait has an intriguing sound and look, and Universal South gets kudos for giving it a chance.—RW