(18 April 2010) The Mysteries of our Minds (Cat No. 700261290904, 2010)
is the new album by Elizabeth South. It
follows her debut Have Faith released in 2008. Elizabeth has a well trained voice that is
perfectly suited to music that fuses pop, rock and inspirational. As part of her artistic
development, she attended North Carolina School of the Arts and New York University. She studied
musical theater and drama at the Tisch School of the Arts and presently has two undergraduate
degrees, one in drama and the other in music therapy. She also earned a Master of Arts in Teaching
at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her producer Billy Smiley (founder of rock group White Heart) feels that her
direction and style is similar to Sarah McLachlan, Enya and Sheryl Crow combined.
The Mysteries of our Minds was co-written with Smiley in Arizona and Nashville. The album
includes the work of a bevy of established musicians, including: Blair Masters (piano and synths);
Dennis Holt (drums); Matt Pierson (bass); Scott Dente (acoustic guitar); Christine Dente (vocals);
Rick Florian (vocals); George Cochini (guitars); Gordon Kennedy (sitar); Brennan Smiley (guitars);
Greg Hagan (guitars) and Bill Whittington (mixing engineer). Their work has contributed to the
excellent sound delivered on this album.
The album is comprised primarily of heartfelt ballads and includes tracks featuring many of the
artists that contributed to the album. It opens with the gorgeous track "Falling in Love Alone"
with vocals contributed by Christine Dente. Elizabeth joins with Rick Florian on "Someday," a warm
and upbeat ballad the two sing as a duet. "Your Voice" is an upbeat rock track. We appreciated the
power in Elizabeth's voice and the delivery of the lyrical message. Her duet with Billy Smiley in
"I Know" is tenderly delivered. The vocal layers contribute to the lush sound of the song.
Elizabeth's solo tracks include "If Tomorrow Never Comes," a piano-backed ballad, with subtle
warm backing vocals provided by Terry White. "Forgive" best illustrates the range and sheer power
of Elizabeth's vocal work. The edgy rock arrangements of this album standout perfectly complement
her voice. "Am I Stronger" is performed in a significant contrasts with whispy vocals layered over
light piano and string arrangements. "I Will Follow" is very lightly backed duet with Rick Florian
that continues to underscore the inspirational theme of the album. "Perfect Love" further highlights the
vocalist's talent while building instrumentals and backing vocals by Billy Smiley add texture. Somewhat
thicker arrangements and additional layering contribute to the lush sound of the White Heart cover song
"Fly Eagle Fly," with Elizabeth backed by Florian, Smiley and Kennedy. The synth and guitar arrangements
that complement the vocal work in the song's climax are superb.
"Never Looking Back" is a pop-oriented song with soaring lead vocals delivered atop layers of
building arrangements. Listen for Elizabeth's strength to crescendo vocally across the track. The
album concludes with the inspirational lyrics of the National Radio Single, "Have Faith," a final ballad tenderly delivered
atop acoustic guitar and gentle string arrangements. The choruses release all of the tension developed each each of the verses.
Elizabeth is a busy young woman. She is a full-time elementrary school teacher. She teaches
music and drama and also writes a fourth grade play every year and directs it. Even with all of
this going on, she is pursuing her goal of finding a nationwide audience with as much passion as she
always devotes to hear teaching. We're happy to help her spread the word. While we would have
appreciated an additional song in the style of "Forgive," The Mysteries of our Minds is a
wonderful album.--Russ Elliot on assignment in Boston, MA