Image © 1999
Hidden Star Publishing
(26 February 2000) The debut album from singer songwriter
Esther Valentine is entitled Can't Watch Yourself Dance
(MadamRex (USA), 1999). It is comprised of seven richly instrumented
and vocally staggering tracks written and arranged by the artist.
Esther's core group includes: Garrison White (acoustic guitar);
Gregg Montante (electric guitar, production and mixing with Ken
Allardyce); Robbie Myers (drums and percussion); Joe Caccavo
(electric bass); Robin Rader (flute); and Connie Deeter (stand-up
bass). Vocal performances, instrumental arrangements and
production quality of the recording are absolutely tops. Additional
biographic information and photographs are available at Esther's
are available from
With stated influences including Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush,
The Beatles, Elton John and similarities including Natalie
Merchant, Loreena McKennitt, Enya and Linda Rondstadt, one
certainly expects the artist's first album to exhibit
vocal virtuousity—Can't Watch Yourself Dance delivers from
the first, it's title, track. The vocal lines and supporting flute
within the mainly acoustic instrumental mix are highly memorable,
drawing the listener into the recording. Although the genre of
the varied yet rocking "I Can't Keep Jennifer Waiting" and
"Lost Emotion" differs from
Kate Bush's typical sound, Esther's sensitive vocals are quite
reminscent of the well known artist's in this terrific track.
The layers of backing vocals in the choruses are especially notable.
While the album is vocally oriented, the instrumental arrangements
have actually been given equal emphasis, adding to the overall quality
of the album. "Dreaming" is lighly arranged with flute and
strings carrying the backing for Esther's most sensitive vocal lead
and a similarity to Jeni Saint (review).
Esther's vocal harmonies in this track and the highly accessible
"When the Idol Falls" with its richer instrumental production,
soaring lead and thicker backing vocals are wonderful.
"When Your Eyes Stop Talking" is lovely highly emotive ballad
sung over the lightest instrumentation that builds to compliment
soaring vocals as the song develops. Perhaps most illustrative of
Esther's vocal dexterity, it is a stunning track. The album
concludes with the brief multi-tracked a capella "If My Complaints
Your Passions Move."
Esther Valentine's Can't Watch Yourself
Dance is a stunning tribute to a rising west coast talent.
Vocally strong with tremendous instrumental arrangements the
recording is certainly worthy of further exploration—a must