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Center Of My Universe CD Cover
Image © 2000 Sparrow Records 

(05 March 2000) The second album from Australian singer songwriter and beauty Michelle Tumes is entitled Center Of My Universe (Sparrow Records (USA) SPD 1696, 2000) comes on the heels of her highly successful Listen (Sparrow Records (USA) SPD 1546, 1998). Centered on her characteristically ethereal vocals and produced by David Leonard and Michelle Tumes, the album's ten tracks are highly accessible alternative rock-oriented numbers with primarily secular lyrical themes; it is in the HDCD format and is accompanied by an high quality liner notes with complete lyrics, credits and lovely colour photography. Sparrow Records has produced another stunning website to accompany the album while another [independent or fan-based] website contains video clips, additional soundbites and amateur photographs. Michelle's late autumn tour met with widespread acclaim.

A classically trained pianist, Michelle gave up her idea of a music career for a time and studied dentistry until her little sister gave her some money from a paper route to make a demo of her songs. With that vote of confidence and some interestr from publishing companies, Michelle set out to pursue a career in the United States. After landing cuts by artists like Jaci Velasquez and Sixpence None The Richer, Michelle signed a record deal and released her debut album. She received an ipressive nod from her peers with a Dove Award Nominaton in 1999 for New Artist of the Year.

The lush orchestral arrangements on Michelle Tumes' albums perfectly compliment her ethereal lead and multi-tracked backing vocals and create a highly accessible sound designed to appeal to the broadest audience. Center Of My Universe opens with "Deep Love" an upbeat Enya-esque tune. "Heaven's Heart" is a soft rocking tune with more pronounced guitar and percussion but equally effective orchestral arrangements. Michelle's sweeet lead vocals are mixed higher and the layers of backing vocal add wonderful texture. The ballads "Lovely" and "Immortal" are equally lush each with their own rich instrumentals, stunning vocal lead and layers of backing vocals but slower pace.

"Do Ya is quite different, and I'm sure people will be shocked by it," admits Michelle. It's very upbeat and pop-oriented. "I wanted people to see there is a different side to me, that I don't always float around and write serene music. That song addresses the fact that looks really don't matter—it's what's on the inside. Everyone's unique, and that's a fantastic thing." It would be perfect song for play within WB's Popular television.

Michelle's sensual lead vocal in "Missing You" is mixed way up in spots with little instrumentation however the choruses have lots of backing layers that add to the acoustic textures. More spoken than typical for Michelle, the lead vocal in "With The Angels" is equally exquisite, evocative and sensual; the layers in the choruses are very accessible—listen for the short whispery hook. A first for Michelle, "Chant" is an immediate link back to more spiritual days. Inspired by a visit to an Othodox church, Michelle reflects, "The music they used in that church was so sacred, and this chant was written with that in mind. It helps me to be still, and silent, and in that place I become very peaceful." The strings supporting otherwise a capella choral work are very effective.

A gothic texture is captured with robust and uplifting orchestral arrangements and percussion in the highly accessible and moving vocal number "Christe Eleison," a certain favourite from the album. The closing track, "I Wish For Peace," is a short and soft ballad sung sensitively mainly with piano accompaniment.

You can order Michelle Tumes' latest album Center Of My Universe via amazon.com here or her debut album Listen here. Clearly Michelle Tumes is continuing to stretch her talent beyond conventional musical boundaries with this new album. Perfect production and top quality recording compliments the song writing and artists' performances. Worthy of a cross country journey, this new album is a stunning achievement and certain to please female vocal enthusiasts. Like her debut album of the same name, it is a must Listen!

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