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Stories Untold
Image © 1999 Bolero Records 

(11 December 2000) Recommended to Musical Discoveries' editors by our Scandinavian correspondent, singer songwriter Monica Starck's debut album Stories Untold (Bolero Records AB (Sweden) BOL 50042, 2000) is nominally a twelve-track alternative rock pop crossover collection. With the album's selections largely self-written or written with other partners and produced by Dan Sundqvist, Monica's vocal work will certainly appeal to those that follow Andrea Corr.

Sweden has a knack of producing highly accessible pop tunes fronted by lovely female vocalists and Monica Starck's work is certainly no exception. The overall production of the recording and lush rocking instrumental arrangements have been created with accessibility in mind as evidenced by the album's emotionally delivered upbeat tracks. Monica's vocal work is clearly the focus of the album however the lushness of the instrumentals balances the overall sound.

Song structures on Stories Untold vary from highly accessible uptempo ("The Trouble With Ben" and "In From The Cold") through moody alternative rocking numbers ("Into The Unknown," "Even Summer," "The Farewell of Julia" and "Powerful Thing") and heartfelt yet moving ballads with expressive vocal work ("Happy" and the title track "Stories Untold") that would be effectively placed in the midst of one of the Warner Brothers teen television dramas.

One of the album's standout tracks is the upbeat and lushly arranged "This Side Of Blue." Thick instrumental arrangements adorn Monica's sensually sung "I'm Just Like You," a highly accessible radio friendly pop rock track certain to appeal to a broad cross section of younger audiences.

Lushly produced vocal harmonies add texture and depth to the finely played instrumentals. "Happy" is certainly one of the album's standout tracks. Accompanied only by acoustic guitar, Monica's vocals soar in the evocatively sung and gentle ballad "I'd Rather Sleep Alone." The Scandinavian release of the album concludes with a light alternative acoustic ballad entitled "Written On My Heart" that could equally be classed as a folk tune.

Currently Monica Starck's albums are available only as imports outside the EC. You can order the album from amazon.co.uk here or as an import from Japan with several bonust tracks from amazon.com here. Singles are also available at amazon.com. While the United States music market is full of alternative female singer songwriters, Monica Starck's work stands above them in song construction, harmony vocals and instrumental arrangements. Worth further exploration, her debut album is a very nice listen!

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