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The Bridge CD Cover
Image © EMI Music Canada 2004

More Tara MacLean:
exclusive interview and photos (2005)
album review: Silence (1996)
album review: Passenger (2000)

Shaye Image © EMI Music Canada 2004

(updated 17 January 2007) Shaye is the Canadian rock group fronted by Tara MacLean, Damhnait Doyle and Kim Stockwood. Their tremendous debut album The Bridge (EMI (Canada) 7 2435 93540 2 6, 2004) is comprised of twelve original tracks and is packaged with a bonus disc offering six extra tracks, with two songs contributed from each member's solo work. Included are "Still" and "Moon Beneath My Feet" from 12 Years Old by Kim Stockwood, "If I Fall" and "Dry Land" from Passenger by Tara MacLean and "Traffic" and "Afterglow" from the Davnet by Damhnait Doyle. Shaye received a 2005 SOCAN award for the track "Happy Baby." Read more about Shaye in our exclusive Tara MacLean interview.

Vocal contributions are evenly balanced by the three singers on most of the album's tracks. However, "How The West Was Won" features Tara MacLean's lead, "Daydream Car" led by Kim Stockwood and "Freedom" led by Damhnait Doyle. While most of the tracks are radio-friendly, the two airplay standouts are "When You're Sinking" and "Happy Baby." The excellent album production is geared for the pop-alternative market.

Three talented musicians, all three of whom have had successful solo careers, combine their talents to create Shaye. The Toronto-based trio is named after Tara MacLean's sister, who was killed in a car accident as the group were recording The Bridge. Tara said, "Her name is Gaelic for courage and freedom. We all experienced a loss in some way when we were making the record -- with births around it -- so it was an intense time of growing and we gave each other courage and confidence. It's a beautiful world. I feel like she's with me all the time."

"On and On" is a powerful rock opener to this wonderful album. The music progresses to a more pop style in "Guenivere." In this song, each of the trio's distinctive voices are highlighted. Tara describes Shaye as "a whole other entity. It's limitless. Musically we can tackle songs with higher or lower ranges and it's great having people on stage singing harmony with you. You just reach a whole new level of performance and get to share the highs, and the lows, which don't seem so low."

The band members also deserve special recognition. In addition to Tara MacLean, Damhnait Doyle and Kim Stockwood, the lineup includes Gordie Sampson (acoustic guitar); Jay Joyce (guitar, Hammond B-3 organ, keyboards, bass); Bill Bell (guitar, programming); Mowgli (drums, percussion); Gil Greaves (piano, Fender Rhodes piano, Hammond B-3 organ, keyboards).

The strong ballad, "Beauty," has very touching lyrics and a straight-lined approach. The simple tones evoke an emotional standout which is quite inspirational. "When You're Sinking" has a more laid back feel and sensual tone. The harmonizations blend flawlessly throughout. There is a change of pace with the pop driven "Happy Baby." This upbeat melody and striking vocals continue to reach a new level. The stunning harmonies are impressive and keep the pace exciting.

"Big, Fat Babies" is certainly relative to the time in their lives when the women were starting their families. Tara recently said, “You just can’t leave a baby for an hour when they’re three weeks old and they’re nursing,” says Tara. “I had a gown on and I had to put my sling on and breastfeed her while I was onstage. I thought it was the ultimate multi-tasking. The girls were so great about it."

"Freedom" has an intense energy and soaring vocals. You can't help but groove to the no-nonsense, hard hitting music. There's almost a country sound to "Daydream Car." Shaye's voices sound gorgeous together, whether harmonizing or taking the lead — Dav’s with its sexy rock quality; Kim’s with its raspy, country feel, and Tara’s pure folk-like ring. "Karma" opens with lush instrumentals and sings about destiny and fate. The pace softens with "How The West Was Won" with its haunting acoustic guitar and clearcut country vocals. "Godspeed" has a rich quality with its touching, softspoken lyrics. The trio certainly displays stunning harmonies and leads. The album closes with "No Mermaid." A highlight of this song is the guest performance from the Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster.

Shaye excels with their harmony-driven pop debut. They have an edginess to their music which can only enthrall the listener. The end result is delightful. These three women have succeeded in releasing an assertive and inspiration album. Their music runs the gamut of emotions and they emerge with a magical culmination of their efforts. They have a gorgeous vocal blend that reaches new heights. The group's second album Lake Of Fire is released on February 7, 2007. We can't wait to hear it.--Audrey Elliot in New York

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