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When I Was You CD Cover
Image © 2000 Monarch Records 

(20 February 2000) The electrifying five-piece Vagabond Lovers (the Naked Barbies for ten years previously) are fronted by Patty Speglanin who formed the band in 1990 because she loved music and wanted desperately to be in a real band. In 1996, they won the Whammie Award as the Bay Area's best Americana band. In 1998, the band was a finalist in the Levi's/Lilith Fair Emerging Talent Concert. Three albums were released by the band under their former monniker before Mattel insisted on a name change. You can still order their albums Dancing With Vacuums (1995) (here), Tarnished (1996) (here) and Living Independently (1998) (here). The forthcoming album by Vagabond Lovers scheduled for release on May 16, 2000 is entitled When I Was You (Monarch Records(USA) MONA-1023, 2000).

The new album is comprised of twelve richly arranged alternative vocal numbers, including a stunning cover of The Cars' "Drive" albeit arranged more lightly to better suit Patty's voice. It is a stunning track and an album highlight. She says, "we often pick covers that were originally sung by men because when a woman sings it, there's a different perspective, a different connotation." Patty has a tremendous voice with a richness, range, power and style certain to warm the hearts of most female vocal enthusiasts.

The album opens with "Junkie," a smooth tune written by song-writing friend Sarah Decker. "I think of myself as somewhere between Joni Mitchell and Linda Ronstadt," Patty reveals, "in the sense that I'm a songwriter but I also have a great appreciation for great songs. "Midnight Radio" is one of those great tracks, with a well-balanced guitar instrumental arrangement matched to the easy going light rock tune. "For Sale Sign" is vocally stronger and instrumentally lighter and the underlying musical theme is a cross between a ballad and a country tune. The pace picks up and the texture changes to be more jazzy in "Wonderful Thing." Here Patty's vocals are right out in front, well on top of the guitars, and the extent of her range becomes evident. The guitar solo that concludes the track is tremendous.

Not only did they happen upon the idea of "Drive" while hanging out with Austin producer Dave McNair in an Oakland bar but they were able to include a Siglanin favourite, "Him," written by former Green on Red member Chuck Prophet, who she encountered after one of his gigs. This is a bluesy ballad with vocals soaring way above the light instrumentation—easy to understand why it's one of Patty's faves. "Living Independently" and "A Thousand Different Reasons" are brighter songs, with heartfelt lead and harmony vocals; a mix of acoustic and electric guitar backing produces an almost country sounding tune.

A unique instrumental arrangement compliments the ballad "I Got Killed" which was reminscent of several of the themes from Evita. Jazz influences (principally on piano) are joined with rock in "Kitchen." The vocal excursions within the track are tremendous. The album concludes with "Division Street" a soft ballad with country influences, heartfelt lyrics, and light instrumentals and "You Make It Easy," a bluesy, vocally rich ballad.

The forthcoming release by Vagabond Lovers contains a wide variety of songs that illustrate the range of the band's talent and Patty Spiglanin's vocal abilities. For soundbites and further information also check out their mp3.com website. Certain to interest female vocal enthusiasts, the album is worth watching for in the coming months—a very nice listen!

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