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Description
While this website has become known for its in-depth album and concert reviews, the digest contains concise comments on new music our audience has either recommended or might enjoy. Click on album covers or label names for links to further information. Click on the title to view the article.

Content
Nina Gordon
Llewellyn
Maggie Reilly
M2aria
Jenny Bruce
Jo Davidson
Fran Lucci
Karmalatta
Scarlet's Web
The Corrs
Karen Nunis Blackstone

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Instrumental Digest
 
tonight and the rest of my life
Image © 2000 Warner Brothers Records 
 

(30 September 2000) Former Veruca Salt co-founder, singer, songwriter, guitar player Nina Gordon's debut solo album is entitled Tonight And The Rest Of My Life (Warner Brothers Records (USA) 47746-2, 2000). The album is comprised of thirteen alternative pop oriented tracks with "melodies that linger, lyrics that speak the truth and performances that bring it all to life. In short, Nina Gordon has delivered an album that's both timely and timeless."

The album was produced by Bob Rock and was recorded in Hawaii. The lineup includes Jon Brion (Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple and Macy Gray), Stacy Jones (drums), Michael Eisenstein (guitars) and Scott Riebling (bass). "Standout tracks range from the wry and revealing "Now I Can Die" to the heartbreakingly tender "Hold On To Me," from the cinematic progressions of "New Years Eve" to the scathing anti-love song "Hate Your Way." It is in fact, that rearest of musical entities—an album to play all the way through ... again and again. That's not entirely surprising, however, considering the artist's musical pedigree."

In addition to the album, Musical Discoveries was provided a stunning promotional video of the album's title track. The artist's visual performance is certainly as dramatic and enticing as the compact disc. Nina commented on the creative context of the album, "I have a feeling of knowing exactly who I am right now." She continued, "I'm very much in touch with myself. There have been times when I've sat down and tried to write and it was like someone else speaking through me. And then there are times when I've felt something unique and personal shining through. Those are the moments, both as a songwriter and as a person, that are most gratifying and they're all over this record."

Vocally Nina Gordon can be most closely compared to Andrea Corr although the song structures on this debut album differ significantly from The Corrs' earlier albums. However, Nina's debut can be closely compared to the Corrs most recent release In Blue (143 Records (UK) 7567833522, 2000), with the exception of several extremely pop-oriented tracks such as "Badway." Layers of vocals further simulate The Corrs' sound.

Artwork accompanying the compact disc is simple but the sensual photos of the artist add to the overall effect. She's a very attractive young woman. We found Nina Gordon to be a wonderful vocalist and quite enjoyed the blend of upbeat pop-oriented tracks with evocatively sung ballads. Her power is more notable than her range which perfectly suits the style of her songwriting.

You can order the Nina Gordon's album Tonight And The Rest Of My Life from amazon.com here as well as the import version with its bonus track here. Worthy of further exploration, especially for Andrea Corr and Big Sky (review) fans, we found the album extremely enjoyable, worth a journey and certainly a must listen!

 
Moonlore
Image © 2000 New World Music, Ltd 
 

(30 September 2000) The latest album from Llewellyn Moonlore (New World Records (UK) NWCD487, 2000) is meant to take the listener on a musical adventure tale into history, reconstructing one of the legendary druidistic games that took palce upon the full moon adjoining Samhain. Regardless, it again features stunning vocal work by Julianna and, written in a new age music style, can be closely compared in to music by Enya, Miriam Stockley and Shanon (Celtic Classics I and II, vocals by Leslie Dowdall). Woodwind sounds and vocal layers contribute significantly to the relaxing nature of the music. The album is comprised of nine tracks divided between instrumental and lyrical numbers.

Musical Discoveries reviewed Llewellyn's Tantric Sexuality (review) earlier this year. His latest album combines the artist's signature keyboard textures with Uillean pipes, Irish Whistles, guitars, piano, flutes and Celtic skin drums. Layers of Juliana's vocals and Tori Donovon's recorders help transport the listener away into a mysterious and romantic world of ancient landscapes. The album actually includes a "celebration of the feminine and the Triple Goddess of druidic lore" and "includes specially composed 'working' tracks ("The Maiden," "The Mother" and "The Crone") suitable for use during ritual at full time or other events on the pagan and personal calendar." While that may be a bit more than what Musical Discoveries regular readers look for, the album indeed contains some lovely music.

Llewellyn notes, "I wanted to further explore the topics touched on my recent UK best selling album, Celtic Legend, especially one of the legendary druid games called the wild hunt. This hunt was really the first major test for young druids, an opportunity to flex new skills and abilities by working on the elements around them, usually under the cover of darkness. Moonlore documents the trials and tests of one such druidic student, highlighting ativities with some of the chante and vocals that may have played a part in such a test." The album's first lyrical track "The Chill Wind" is an epic illustration of the artist's intent effectively blending keyboard, traditional instrumentation and layers of evocative vocals.

The stunning track "Sky Fire" most features Juliana's vocals. It is a lyrical number and she is most closely compared to Miriam Stockley, while airs of Enya can also be imagined in this number. This captivating track (and highlight of the album) for us features a lovely solo lead vocal while layers are used in the choruses to add further texture. Llewellyn noted, "I wanted the song "Skyfire" to capture the moment when the young maiden is trying to overcome her fears and remember her lessons to help her win the wild hunt; the sky fire refers to the lightning (aka Mandragora's spirit) that poses a challenge to the young druid. As you listen, you will note that the tracks integrate the key natural elements of wind, sea, fire and stone, all utilized in the manner done thousands of years ago."

Llewellyn's latest album Moonlore is a lovely collection of instrumental and vocalise tracks certain to bring relaxation to its listeners. A lovely booklet accompanies the compact disc with thumbnail photographs of the artists. Click on the album cover to visit the label's websites—there are two: one for American customers and another for those in the UK and Europe.

Drama develops as the album unfolds and while we would have enjoyed a few more lyrical numbers like "Sky Fire" we found the album to be refreshing in its combination of instrumentation and vocalise. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. Certain to appeal to fans of Enya, Miriam Stockley, and Maggie Reilly (next review) this album is worthy of further exploration and is a very nice listen!

 
Maggie Reilly Starcrossed
Image © 1999 EMI Electrola GmbH 
 

(30 September 2000) Maggie Reilly's most recent release is entitled Starcrossed (EMI Electrola (Germany) 7243 5 25415 2 2, 2000). In her solo career that followed a successful association with Mike Oldfield ("Moonlight Shadow," etc.), Reilly has already released three albums, a range of singles and a best of compilation. Her solo career began with Echoes (1992) and was immediately followed up by Midnight Sun (1993). After a break, Elena (1997) emerged. The Best Of compilation There And Back Again actually features a new recording of "Moonlight Shadow." Reilly's latest album is a natural development of the artist's adult alternative contemporary singing songwriting style.

Interestingly Maggie Reilly's albums are rarely domestically released either in the Americas or United Kingdom. Originally from Scotland, she sings in English and her music, like Miriam Stockley's, has broad appeal but the German community seems to have recognised her talent more than other territories. This latest release features twelve mostly easy rocking tracks featuring soaring vocals with additional layers contributing to the textures achieved. A bevy of guest artists are listed as contributing to the recordings. They include: Nico Ramsden (guitars), Fergus Durrant (percussion) Danny Schogger (keyboards), Charlie Dore (additional backing vocals), Grant Mitchell (bass and drum programming), Chris Rea (slide guitar), Churcho Merchan (guitars, bass, backing vocals), Stuart Mackillop (keyboards), Blair Mackichan (addional backing vocals), Guy Pratt (bass), Miles Bould (drums), and Adam Drake (guitars).

Clearly the most catchy track of the album is "When It's Over" with its obvious single potential. Lush instrumentals perfectly compliment Maggie's stunning lead and additional layers of backing vocals. The ballad "Always You" is, by stark contrast, a lovely ballad, lightly instrumented with simply stunning vocals; tribal sounding layers in the chorus are most reminscent of Miriam Stockley's style. "I Think It's Gonna Rain" is sung totally a capella and is a testament to the artist's virtuousity and vocal maturity.

Light rocking tracks dominate the balance of the album's set list. "Always You" blends lovely lead vocals with lush arrangements and additional vocal layers while electronics dominate arrangements in "Now" to give it a dance flavour. "Replay" is an evocative, rock-style ballad with bluesy verses contrasted by choruses having a highly accessible pop flavour. We quite enjoyed "Talking To Myself" and "Changes" with their contrasting textures spanning dance electronica, light rock and ballad styles and soaring lead vocals balanced with layers of backing harmonies. The album concludes with the upbeat track "Memories" which, like many of those that precede it balancing lovely lead vocals with backing layers of harmony vocals and lovely arrangements; percussion is most notable in the closing track.

The compact disc is accompanied by a lovely booklet with full size and thumbnail photos of the arist. Lyrics for the track "Adelena" are included but the others have been omitted. You can read further reviews and order Maggie Reilly's Starcrossed album from amazon.com at a reasonable price here. Certainly worth a transatlantic journey, this wonderful Maggie Reilly album, just like those that precede it, is a must listen!

 
m2aria album cover
Image © 2000 M2aria 
 

(30 September 2000) The debut album from M2aria is a self-titled digital audio music (D.A.M) compact disc available from mp3.com.

M2aria is Maria Nazarro (vocals, guitar and keyboards), Paul Opalach (bass, drums, guitar, keyboards) and Mark Bridgman (bass, guitar). The band compares their style to Tina Turner, Bonnie Raitt, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Mozart and Vivaldi). Although the band's style a distance from that normally reviewed at Musical Discoveries, the band and vocalist were recommended by a Musical Discoveries correspondent and have been the subject of our exploration for the past month. Vocals are mixed way up, just the way our visitors normally prefer them.

Maria indeed has a voice like Bonnie Raitt and it is most evident when the band play their R&B-oriented tracks like "Drive Me," "Waitress Song" and "Come n' Get It." Guitar work is especially notable in their arrangements. Although well played, we liked the bluesy tracks less than the others. We most enjoyed the easy rocking tunes on the album. These include "Flavor Of My Love," "Pink Blown Glass" and "Believe Me." Here Maria's voice is sweet and most evocative, soaring to reflect emotion most evocatively, clearly illustrating her virtuosity. The band must be something to see perform live.

Although no saxophone credits are listed on the D.A.M. package, the parts add a lovely texture to several of the tracks and the band is to be commended for including them in the arrangements. The the rocking tune "Change" and "When My Mama Rock & Rolled" work quite well and are certain to remind listeners of Tina Turner's work but with a more crystalline vocal texture. The album closes with the lovely ballad "Remember." Evocative and sensually sung vocals are accompanied by light acoustic guitar-based arrangements. It is clearly our favourite track on the album.

You can obtain the M2aria album at the artist's mp3.com website. Clearly a band that is going places, their debut recording is worthy of further exploration and one we found to be a very nice listen!

 
Jenny Bruce CD Cover
Image © 1997 Jennifer T Bruce

Jenny Bruce
Image © 2000 Jennifer T Bruce

 

(30 September 2000) Singer songwriter Jenny Bruce's debut album is a self-titled (Jennifer T Bruce (USA) JTB 25997, 1997) 10-track collection of heartfelt songs lightly accompanied by acoustic and electric guitar. Bruce provides vocals, piano and acoustic guitar and is joined by Stephen QUinn (electric and acoustic guitar), Julian Harris (bass), Joy Askew (organ), "Nia" Regina Sharpe (drums) and Mr B (harmonica). Bruce's voice has a sensual texture balancing sweetness with a rougher texture and power that works well for the evocative styles of songs on the album and obviously led to her material being selected for hit WB television series Dawson's Creek. The opening track to the album, "Music To My Ears," is played at the end of episode #321 Show Me Love (original air date 21 May 2000) when Joey and Dawson are in Dawson's room. In addition to her debut self-titled album, Musical Discoveries was provided a six-track promotional EP from 1999 with tracks from a forthcoming album.

According to Jenny, "Almost every song I've written is inspired by my longing to connect with people. I talk to people on the street all the time!" Pretty courageous for someone that lives in New York City! She continued, "I feel most creative when I'm surrounded by strangers on the subway or walking the streets of New York. That's when the songs come to me." When you meet Jenny Bruce, her genuine smile and friendly demeanor conflict with the stereotype of the hard-shell New Yorker. She was born and raised in Manhattan and atteneded one of the City's elite private all-girl schools. Bruce began performing during high school but sought work and was discovered ultimately in Paris. She completed university at Barnard College and developed a large following in downtown New York City. Her singing and songwriting style are perfectly suited to the venues available there.

Songs from the debut album are sung with tremendous emotion with vocals carrying melodies above the backing instrumentals. The album is a ballad lovers' delight with most songs sung slowly exploring the dimensions of Jenny's vocal talents. It is no wonder that she was selected as a runner up at the '99 New York Lilith Fair Talent search. Comparisons to Paula Cole or Jewel have been made by other reviewers. Jenny tours extensively throughout the New York metro area; recent performances span a broad range of cafes and nightspots as well as universities. She has also played a large number of festivals in the tri-state area.

The six-track demo EP struck us immediately with the richer production supporting the vocals and the uptempo nature of opening track "Soul On Fire." Additional vocal harmonies are also notable. Slightly more laid back but equally rich in production is "Human Condition," a lovely track with crisp percussion and vocal mixing Jenny's raspier sound with her more sweetly evocative style. Heartfelt ballads, in the style of Jenny's debut album, include "Home" and "Blue Angel"—either would be as comfortable on Dawson's Creek as the artist's first. "Anybody Out There" is one of the more dynamically arranged tracks similar to "Music To My Ears" in texture. The vocal harmonies perfectly support Jenny's searching lead. The EP concludes with "Heaven.Com" a gentle ballad accompanied mainly by acoustic guitar but led by crystalline vocals soaring to the edge of her range demonstrating her virtuosity. Technical folks especially will enjoy the lyrics.

Jenny Bruce should be releasing her second album in the autumn of 2000. In the meantime, you can find further reviews, hear several sound samples and order Jenny Bruce's self-titled album from amazon.com here. You can find further soundbites at the artist's mp3.com website. Her music is certainly worth further exploration and we believe that our readers will agree that the debut album is a very nice listen!

 
Jo Davidson, Fragile Tough Girl CD Cover
Image © 1999 Fragile Tough Girl Records

Jo Davidson, Fifteen Piano Solos CD Cover
Image © 1999 Fragile Tough Girl Records
 

(01 October 2000) Singer songwriter piano player Jo Davidson released two very different albums during 1999. Fragile Tough Girl (Fragile Tough Girl Records (USA) 6987-2, 1999) is comprised of eleven heartfelt ballad-like songs in a style similar to Jenny Bruce (reviewed above) that would fit equally comfortable in any of the teen dramas currently being aired on WB television. Tell The Story (Fragile Tough Girl Records (USA) 6988-2, 1999) is the followup differing from the artist's debut containing fifteen piano solos. The artwork accompanying the compact disc literally does as the title suggests; it tells the story of a portion of Jo's life, focusing on time spent in Paris. The material is also available at her website in the "Personal Thoughts" section. Photos included in the albums' artwork illustrate a visual similarity to actress Jennifer Anniston.

In Fragile Tough Girl the music seems to explode with charm and sex appeal. "Brewing underneath are feelings of loss, hope, anger and questioning." The soft pop/rock tracks are most remniscent of Tori Amos, Alanis Morrisette and Fiona Apple. Jo Davidson provides piano keyboard, most of the guitar and all vocals in addition to writing the songs and co-producing the album with Greg Ladanyi (Fleetwood Mac, Jackson Browne, Don Henley). A bevy of guest artists provide extensive supporting instrumental arrangements to some of the tracks. The album was recorded in Los Angeles however Jo has recently relocated to New York City where she is currently playing venues most suited to her style of music.

The album opens with the guitar backed title track and serves to introduce Jo Davidson's moody singing style to the listener. "All The World's Religions" is performed with a similar, guitar-laced instrumental arrangement. The variation between verses and chorus illustrate the artist's range from the outset. The bluesy "Real" derives its texture from muted trumpet and an almost spoken vocal part. Piano dominates the arrangements of verses in the heartfelt ballads "Tonight," "Mental Pollution," "Secrets," and "Rose Colored Glasses" while thicker sound in the choruses comes from additional instrumentation, including guitar, lovely string parts and harmonizing vocal layers.

We especially enjoyed the arrangements and vocal effects in the upbeat "I Don't Dance." The lyrically interesting "Cherry Road" is substantially simpler in its arrangements and actually has a 'performed live' feel to it. "Shampoo Boy" and "Alone In My Room" are sung with piano-only accompaniment, the latter reprising the title track, and accordingly most accurately illustrate the artist's raw talent when performing alone. The piano part can best be compared to the solos on the artist's second album.

Jo Davidson's prowess with the piano is evident in her debut album but her virtuosity is best expressed in Tell The Story. All songs were written, produced and recorded by Jo herself. Contemporary in nature, her classical piano training shines through in each track. It is evident why she has had her songs recorded by artists like Stephanie Milles, Melissa Manchester and has won numerous songwriting contests. Lovers of piano music will adore this fifteen track album.

You can order Jo Davidson's albums from her own website. Certainly worthy of further exploration, fans of Tori Amos and Alanis Morrisette will want to try them out. You can find soundbites at her mp3.com website. Althought they are very different, we found both of Jo Davidson's albums to be a very nice listen!

 
Mandays CD Cover
Image © 1999 Oochmuse Records 
 

(01 October 2000) Singer songwriter guitar player Fran Lucci's debut album is entitled Mandays (Oochmuse Records (USA) 8839-41001, 1999). Another self-titled album is also currently available at the artist's website although Musical Discoveries has not had the opportunity to hear it. Fran says that the second release is in the works. It seems that samples from it are currently available at the artist's mp3.com website.

Earlier Fran was lead singer and songwriter with the Holograms. The band released a successful album and toured Europe. Upon her return to the USA, Fran began a solo career being selected a finalist in the 1998 Philadelphia Lilith Fair Unsigned Artist contest. Lucci has also had songs placed in the popular television series Dawson's Creek and co-wrote a song for Jennifer Love Hewitt entitled "I Believe In." Further biographical information is available at Fran's own website.

Mandays is comprised of ten primarily softly rocking tunes each laced with guitar licks that never overpower the artist's stunning vocal work. Her voice is crystalline; lyrics are always sung—rather than spoken. Harmony layers support the melodies while vocal excursions fully illustrate Lucci's range and power. Instrumental arrangements permit the supporting artists to show the extent of their talent as well.

The album's edgy rocking tunes include the opening number "Planned Community," "Maybe," and "Ordinary Girl." Lovely vocal harmonies and guitar-based arrangements perfect support the artist's lead. Guitars and percussion support a country blues like rhythm in the track "Oh Ma." We especially enjoyed the acoustic guitar supported ballad "Coin In My Pocket" and the rich keyboards that join acoustic guitar in the ballad "The Hardest Part."

"Colors" and "I Don't Care" are a soft ballads accompanied primarily by piano arrangements and serve well to illustrate Lucci's crystalline vocals in an almost country style. An epic rock-'n-roll number entitled "Patterns on the Wall" is certain to please a broad audience. Listen for the Bonnie Raitt allusions in the lead vocal and extensive guitar excursions during the instrumental bridge. The album closes with the classic rocker "Wrong Way Dick."

Ordering information for Fran Lucci's albums is available at her website. You may also obtain a four track compact disc from her mp3.com website. Clearly an artist with vocal prowess spanning range and power, her virtuousity is evident in the debut recording Mandays. Worthy of further exploration, it is certainly a very nice listen!

 
From Me To You CD Cover
Image © 1999 Barking Spider Records

Beth Arnold
Beth Arnold
Image © 2000 Karmalatta
 

(01 October 2000) The debut album from rock-'n-roll band Karmalatta is entitled From Me To You (Barking Spider Records (USA) SOS0004, 1999). The Philadelphia-based band is fronted by Beth Arnold (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and also includes Andy Burr (drums, percussion), Greg Beltz (bass) and Brian McCreery (guitar, keyboards, vocals).

The album is comprised of fourteen rocking tracks. Recommended to Musical Discoveries through links from the Second Story website, further information on the band is available at their website. Photos there demonstrate the band must be awesome to see and hear perform in a live setting.

A certain highlight from the band's debut album is the melody and lead vocal in the epic rocker "Understand?". We thought that the vocal and instrumentals were perfectly balanced; we most enjoyed Beth's soaring lead vocal part. "Three," "Jeans," and "Self Destructive" follow in a similar vein. The band is equally comfortable performing in a pop style. Songs include the upbeat "Twist of Fate," "Jeans" and slowly sung "Empty Town." Classic rock tracks include "Catch 22," "But Anyway," "Sick" and the punky "Shallow." The instrumental bridges clearly demonstrate the band's virtuosity. Vocals shine right through the instrumentals track after track with soft harmony layers adding texture.

We actually most enjoyed the slow track "Empty Town." A slow rocker, almost-ballad, it features Beth's soaring lead vocal with soft harmonies adding to the overall sound. Instrumentals perfectly support the melody carried by the vocalist, sounding here most like Karen Bergquist from Over The Rhine (review). A high spot before the song concludes illustrates the extent of Beth's range.

You can find further reviews and order From Me To You from amazon.com here. Beth Arnold's contribution to Karmalatta's sound is certainly worthy of further exploration. Worth checking out, we found the band's debut album a very nice listen!

 
Scarlet's Web, Reborn CD Cover
Image © 2000 Musser Music 
 

(01 October 2000) The first full length album from Theresa Musser's Scarlet's Web is entitled Reborn (Musser Records (USA) JBM 1102, 2000). In addition to providing all of the vocals, Theresa also produced the recording. Musical Discoveries visitors will recall that Musser was formerly lead vocalist with the alternative/indie rock band Lucid (review). Several of her solo recordings with Scarlet's Web were also discussed at Musical Discoveries earlier this year (review). Recently the track "If I Couldn't Have You" was featured on MTV's series Live Through This.

Theresa Musser is certainly one of the most versatile lead vocalists reviewed in our digest during the past year. While some might compare her style to Madonna, her voice is more crystalline, evocative and sensual. The new album includes twelve lightly rocking tracks including former favourites "Fragment," "Pretend," "Soul Mate," "Where I Stand" and a lovely acoustic version of "Didn't Know" (review).

Half of the album's tracks are new to Musical Discoveries. There is a lovely intro entitled "Scarlet's Chant" with layers of stunning Enya-like vocalise and woodwind sounds. The soft rocking sound of the title track is driven from the lead and backing vocal layers while strings and percussion in the arrangement work perfectly. Theresa's lead vocals carry the melody and are contrasted nicely by acoustic guitar and further string arrangements and vocal harmonies in the track "In The Dark."

The rhythm of "If I Coudn't Have You" is balanced by the catchy melody delivered in the vocal part. Additional layers provide dimension to the song which was recorded earlier under the monniker "Melancholy Serenade." Theresa's evocative style is combined with her extensive range in the soft ballad "My Room"; harmony vocals and lovely instrumental arrangements perfectly support the artist's lead. The textures further develop in the softly rocking pop-style tune "Tenderloin."

You can order the album and listen to samples from it at the artist's mp3.com website. This album, like the recordings that have preceded it are worth lots of further exploration. The crystalline vocals, excellent songwriting and superb production make this full length debut from Theresa Musser's Scarlet's Web a must listen!

 
The Corrs In Blue CD Cover
Image © 2000 143 Records/Lava/Atlantic 
 

(01 October 2000) The Corrs are continuing to take the world by storm as they transform their style further away from their Irish roots into contemporary pop culture. Their latest album In Blue (143 Records / Lava/ Atlantic (UK) 7567833522, 2000) drives the band further in this direction when compared to their earlier albums Forgiven, Not Forgotten (1995), various versions of Talk On Corners (1997) and Unplugged (1999) as well as their videos Live at the Royal Albert Hall and Unplugged. The band, now recognised worldwide as a major sensation, have contributed to a broad range of other artists' work as well.

Fronted by the lead vocalist Andrea Corr (voted most beautiful woman in Ireland on several occasions), the band is also comprised of equally stunning sisters Sharon (violin, vocals) and Caroline (drums, vocals), brother Jim (keys, guitar and vocals) and supporting artists Anthony Drennan (guitars) and Keith Duffy (bass). The Corrs continue to be an exceptional live band (reviews Croyden, Portsmouth) and (unfortunately for those that like the intamcy of a smaller hall) now play extensively—if not exclusively—in the largest venues.

In Blue is a blend of hit pop singles ("Breathless," "Give Me A Reason," "Say," "Radio," "Irresistable" and "At Your Side") and others span upbeat dance oriented numbers, tender ballads, and easy listening pieces featuring Andrea Corr's lead vocals balancing them against her sisters' harmonies and the band's robust instrumental arrangements. Caroline's drumming continues to be among the best we've heard.

As one would expect of a Corrs album, vocals are mixed way up with Andrea right up there, in your face, where Musical Discoveries visitors like it. Vocal harmonies and occasional violin excursions are especially notable in the easy rocking track "Sombody For Someone." Ballads are naturally dominated by Andrea's lead, but vocal harmonies are very Wilson Phillips like they were on Forgiven, Not Forgotten. These include "All The Love In The World," "One Night," "Rain" and the very "Queen Of Hollywood"-style "Hurt Before."

Despite a significant development in the pop direction, vocal and instrumental elements of their original sound come through in their latest album. The band's extensive whistle and violin excursions and Irish jig style instrumentals have almost disappeared in this latest release yet an occasional violin excursion and the stunning instrumental "Rebel Heart" that closes the album indeed reveals the band has not completely lost their Irish roots.

You can find all of The Corrs albums reasonably price at amazon.com. Soundbites are available there as well as at the label's website. Order In Blue here, Forgiven, Not Forgotten here, the Talk On Corners Special Edition here, and Unplugged here Additional recordings by The Corrs are also available at amazon.com and are reasonably priced. Click here for details.

The Corrs latest album In Blue while straying away from the band's original roots, is an equally important recording and further demonstration of the band's raw talent, albeit in a more popular direction. The band continue to delight their audiences worldwide with their recordings and live performances with tremendous talent, energy and style. This latest release, like their earlier ones, is worthy of extensive exploration, worth a trans-atlantic journey—a must listen!

 
Give Me Sanity CD Cover
Image © 2000 Songbird LLC 
 

(01 October 2000) Karen Nunis Blackstone is a true and fresh voice of the global village and a songwriter of deep emotion. When we first acquired her debut album Give Me Sanity (Songbird LLC (Japan) 01-2000, 2000), we didn't know quite what to make of it, but with repeated listenings it has grown on Musical Discoveries editors. The artist was born in Malacca, in the former British colony of Malaysia, and is of Portuguese, Ceylonese and Chinese descent. She is currently based in Akita, Japan and is an acclaimed visual artist and emerging singer songwriter.

Living the blues as a child profoundly affected Karen's unique multi-cultural folk music; being a member of a very small miniority group (Malaccan Portuguese) caused her to be ignored by the Malaysian music industry establishment even as critics were hailing her very big voice. Being neither Malay nor Chinese, her vocal talent could not find industry acceptance in Lamalysia until she relocated to Japan with her husband, an American university lecturer and blues harp player. After honing her vocal chops singing jazz and blues on the Nihon circuit, Karen's original sound found a welcome audience at a Buddhist temple run by a former Los Angeles punk vocalist and expanded to concert halls, smoky clubs, concert halls and festivals all over Japan.

Blackstone's emotive lyrics, ear catching melodies and unique rhythms combine the best of blues, jazz and rural folk sensibilites. She was supported by guest artists that include some of Southeast Asia's top music talents and any music club pals who were glad to lend a hand during the recording process. The diverse mix of cultural influences and contemporary attitudes contributes to the listening experience. In addition to jazz and blues, we clearly heard bluegrass in the final mix as well.

We most enjoyed the album's premier rocker "Drivin Down The Bern." Electric guitar, harmonica and percussion during the instrumental bridge seem to perfectly compliment the artist's singing style in the sectons of the song that surround it. The gentle ballad "It's A Wonder" demonstrated the artist's vocal sensuality; the instrumental arrangements are especially complimentary. The folky flute part in "Angel Of Darkness" is highly notable contrasting the lead vocal part perfectly. The jazzy tune "Fend For Yourself" concludes the album with vocals effectively accompanied by various arrangements including another lovely flute part.

As one would expect from a Japanese release, the booklet accompanying the well produced compact disc is lovely with complete lyrics and a couple of nice photos of the artist. You can order Karen's album Give Me Sanity read editorial reviews and hear soundbites of every track at amazon.com here. Worth further exploration with soundbites available online for your personal listening experience, we found the album to be a nice listen.

 
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