Image © The Dreaming 2008
More From The Dreaming
Live at The Tralf (2004)
Shadow Days (2004)
Picture Book Rain (2002)
More From Cosmic Stepping Stones
Interview and Album Reviews (2004)
Leah Pinnavaia (lead vocals)
Image © Cosmic Stepping Stones 2005
Photo by Irene Haupt
Image © DreamSuite Records 2004
(17 August 2008) The fourth album from The Dreaming, an acoustic progressive band from Buffalo, NY entitled Machines of Love and War is scheduled for release next month. Fronted by Leah Pinnavaia (lead vocals, harmonies, keyboards) and Ann Janish-Schieder (lead vocals, harmonies), The Dreaming lineup is completed by Daniel Haskin (guitars and keyboards), John Caruso (bass) and Pat O'Connell (drums and percussion). Violin and viola parts on Machines of Love and War are contributed by 10,000 Manics' Mary Ramsey. Piano was contributed by Joe Rozler. Additional guitars are by Ray Lorigo, with Andy Cushing on mandolin. The album was produced by Armand Petri (10,000 Maniacs, Six Pence None the Richer, Goo Goo Dolls). Armand also contributed percussion, keyboards and mini moog.
The Dreaming's writing team are long time fans of the 'art rock' band Renaissance fronted by Annie Haslam through the 1970s and 1980s. While The Dreaming's sound, especially on the new album, is far more acoustic, their music will certainly appeal to Renaissance fans worldwide. The band enjoy a warm following in the Buffalo, NY area when they perform on stage.
This new studio project does the artists proud with excellent quality throughout. The extensive violin and viola parts contributed by Mary Ramsey from 10,000 Maniacs add great texture and further distinguish the band's sound. Fans of Cosmic Stepping Stones, Leah Pinnavaia's "other" music project, will enjoy the new recordings featuring her lead vocal work. With much attention from Musical Discoveries for Leah's vocal lead on one track on the band's last album, Shadow Days, we were very pleased to learn hear her lead vocals on ten of the thirteen tracks on the new album.
In addition to the development of the band's sound and superior vocal work, listeners will also hear a remarkable increase in production, especially the integration of the instrumental parts and their resulting timing with the vocals. Harmonies are also richer and more robust and are clearly distinguished from single lead vocal passages. The time and care spent in the writing, recording and production is evident track by track and across the entire album.
While some progressive acts have difficulty with the length of their tracks, The Dreaming do not. We were pleased with the range of musical themes and the "right sizing" of each of the tracks from the shortest to the longest with a running time of just over 7:00. The album opens with the title track, a light ballad sung atop acoustic guitar. The strength and of Leah's voice, even in the dissonant bridge, carries the song.
Ann's first track is a coffee house styled track developing a rocking texture over its seven minutes, it is entitled "Summerland" and against the light arrangement with soft violin washes, the electric guitar licks and Leah's soaring vocalise, the song delivers a highly memorable melody. Many listeners will be astounded by the radio friendly and accessible rocker entitled "Benny and Me." A rich piano driven instrumental arrangement provides an excellent foundation for Leah's lead. The vocalists' harmonies and the well produced bridge contribute to the excellent sound of this rather short number.
The album's first standout is "You Are The Ghost," a melancholy and dramatically performed ballad, with Leah's stunning lead vocal backed resiliantly by Mary Ramsey on violin, with lush vocal harmonies in the choruses. In sharp contrast the acoustic guitar instrumental "Tiphareth," virtuously performed by Daniel Haskin follows. Clearly led by Mary Ramsey's violin part, an album standout, "Here And Now" features Leah's heartfelt lead vocal. In addition to Mary's standout violin playing and dramatic textural changes in the theme, soaring vocal harmonies and rich supporting instrumentation are just tremendous. Oh, how we'd like to see this number performed by these artists on stage.
Mary's violin adds to the melancholy sound in "Without You" and perfectly complements Ann's fantastic lead in this coffee house style ballad. We have much admiration for the production quality that has perfectly balanced the light piano and acoustic guitar instrumental arrangements with the striking violin part and lush vocal harmonies. "The Dream King" is an upbeat acoustic rocker that seems as if it has been part of the band's repertoire for ever. With Leah's lead vocal recorded without audio processing and with a bit of a hook, vocal harmonies in the chorus are extremely memorable.
The torch ballad "Doors" is a tremendous testament to the band's lead vocalist Leah Pinnavaia. In a style not that distant from a West End or Broadway musical number written for the lead soprano, Leah sings it wonderfully atop light arrangements backed by soft harmonies. To our ears, it is clearly one of the album's standouts.
The album's contrasting country-styled tracks "Shining Day" (led by Ann) and "Red Sun's Horizon" (led by Leah) clearly demonstrate the band's virtuousity not only in their performance but in their thematic stylings. The latter clearly has a "western" edge to it and would be as at home as a theme to a modern cowboy movie as it is at home on the album. The former is more "Americana" country in its theme as evidenced by slide guitar and Ann's soaring vocal delivery. We enjoyed the vocalists switch in lead midway through. The vocal harmonies, once again, are superb.
"Too Many Things," again featuring stunning violin passages by Mary Ramsey, is an upbeat and accessible number with Leah's powerful lead vocal perfectly harmonized by Ann, especially in the choruses. The album finishes with the short but richly arranged song "I Don't Know." Rhythmically played acoustic guitar is offset by electric guitar and gentle keyboard washes. Supported by excellent instrumentation, Leah's evocative lead vocal and Ann's vocal harmonies left us perfectly satisfied as the album comes to a conclusion.
Upon release, Machines Of Love And War will be available from The Dreaming's website and at their live performances. The Dreaming are known for providing streaming audio of their material for the website's visitors. Visit them often. The band's followers have waited a long time for this album to emerge and based on our listening this past week, it will be proven to be well worth it. We compliment the writers on this tremendous new material and the singers for their vocal contributions. Stunning.