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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
Arianna
Fisher
Eri Sugai
Filippa Giordano
Joanne Juskus
Charlotte Church
Christy Baron
Theta
Mulberry Lane
Mary Carewe
Kristen Banks

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Arianna Miracle
Image © 2000 Miracle Productions 
 

(18 November 2000) Arianna is originally from Elmira, just miles from Musical Discoveries' upstate New York headquarters. At only 22, she has a coloratura soprano range spanning in excess of five octaves. Her debut album is entitled Miracle (Miracle Productions / Boosweet Records (USA) 6 93287 00032 2, 2000). She has performed extensively in both musical theater and stage productions playing roles such as Christine Daae in Phantom of the Opera, Mabel in Pirates of Penzance and Mae in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Miracle is a broad collection of adult contemporary tunes spanning classical, pop, theatrical and Celtic themes.

Arianna describes her style as pOperatic—derived from fusing "pop" and "operatic". The interest in Arianna's career has skyrocketed since Joseph Tatner of Miracle Productions signed her in early 2000. He said, "She was absolutely amazing, yet her former manager had done nothing for her. I mean, here was a 21-year old [then] girl singing Broadway and Opera songs flawlessly with power, emotion and stage presence way beyond her years, yet she was going nowhere. I told her, 'You have the greatest voice I have ever heard but it means nothing if nobody knows who you are.' I made it my mission in life to change that." Within a couple of weeks, Arianna's picture was taking up 3/4 of a page in the Orange County Register. "She screamed when she saw it," Joseph says. It was only the beginning. And her debut album is garnering a lot of critical attention and its tracks are receiving a extensive radio airplay throughout the United States.

Miracle's ten well-produced tracks clearly demonstrate Arianna's virtuosity with her soaring voice covering everything form Shubert's "Ave Maria" to three Broadway tunes, including "Now When the Rain Falls" from The Scarlet Pimpernel, to the traditional Celtic tune—popularised in Lord Of The Dance—"Suil a Ruin" and Irish lullaby "Too Ra Loo." And most illustrative of Arianna's vocal dexterity is "Home Again" performed very much in a Star Search style. Her classical training and tremendous range are evident in her crystalline performance "Ave Maria." Two versions of "Miracle of Love" adorn the album.

Arrangements throughout the album are light but technically superb with vocals mixed well above instrumentals, including the especially crisp percussion. Lovely backing vocals are provided by the girls of Variety. The album was produced by Timothy J. Paul and is available currently from Arianna's website through the ccnow merchandising scheme. An extremely bright future awaits Arianna. With rumours of her migration to New York, this stunning debut album is worth a cross-country journey—a must listen in all respects!

 
True North
Image © 2000 Farmclub.com/Interscope 
 

(12 November 2000) Fisher's major label debut is entitled True North (Farmclub/Interscope (USA) 06949-03672, 2000). Musical Discoveries readers will recall the artist's independent release entitled One earlier this year (review). True North is comprised of thirteen all new recordings but includes eight tracks from One. Fisher's manager Scott Meldrum told us, "True North only contains five new tracks. "Breakable" was actually previously released on the Great Expectations original motion picture soundtrack. The band went with the best representation of their sound and style. They wrote about ten new songs for the album when compared to the material from One, they went with a blend of both." He added, "All of the songs fromOne have been re-recorded."

Fisher's current success is largely due to promotion via the internet and millions of downloads made from mp3.com. "People tuning in traditonal radio do the same thing as people pointing and clicking at their computers—they're making a choice about the music they want to hear," says vocalist Kathy Fisher. "There's nothing accidental about people listening to your songs 2,000,000 times." Yet until Fisher was signed by Farmclub.com/Interscope she says, "We would go to labels and they'd say we sounded great but they didn't know how to market our music, which we call 'artistic pop.'" Musical Discoveries readers might call it adult alternative. Kathy continued, "They'd tell us to come back when we had a fan base. I knew it was out there somewhere but we just had to find it—and it was on the internet."

True North's 'new' tracks include: "Miseryland," "Breakable," "Human," "Simi CA" and "Mary." An obvious development from the band's former sound, "Miseryland," blends light rock and ballad styles with evocative vocals in the verses and a soft hook in the choruses. "Breakable" and "Mary" are softly sung ballads, wrenched with emotion. Kathy Fisher's emotive vocals are mixed way above the light guitar-based arrangements in "Human." Soaring vocal passages in the chorus are delightful. The blend of various guitar sounds, keyboards and sensual vocals in "Simi CA" is most illustrative of the band's development. Vocals are again mixed way up, just the way Musical Discoveries' readers like them.

Certain to achieve further critical acclaim and broader commercial success, Fisher's album True North is certain to please a broad variety of listeners. You can find further reviews, soundbites and order the album amazon.com here. Certainly worth a cross-country journey, it is a must listen!

 
Mai
Image © 2000 Pacific Moon

Eri Sugai
Eri Sugai (Vocals)
Image © 2000
photo courtesy Narumi Arai
 

(updated 10 December 2000) Japanese recording artist Eri Sugai's (pronounced 'Elli S-guy') debut solo album is entitled Mai (Pacific Moon Records (Japan) CHCB-10020, 2000). Even though her name is not well known, many have probably listened to her singing voice. With a strong affinity to both American pop music and the church, she went into the music world. With her extensive musical talent and a crystalline voice, Eri Sugai has provided music for more than two hundred television commercials; she is an established commercial creator and vocalist in Japan. Eri Sugai has contributed extensively to the Stella Mirus entitled Air that we will be reviewing here soon. Interested readers may also wish to begin exploring the latest recordings by Himekami that are performed in a similar style.

Mai is a new agey human voice album lightly accompanied by traditional percussion and other light instrumentation. The style is similar to Adiemus in many ways and will likely appeal to those that are enthusiastic over Miriam Stockley's vocal work. On Mai Eri Sugai provides layer upon layer of stunning crystal clear vocals except on "Honen Bushi" where Anna Sugar takes the lead. The album opens with the relaxing tune "Horizon"; layers of Eri's vocals are underscored by a light instrumental arrangement. From Eri's liner notes, "Mr Oh's Chinese flute blows the Asian continent's wind into my chorus of specially coined words." About "Honen Bushi," she wrote, "While I was listening to Anna Sugar singing, I noticed that this melody consists of only one chord, and I wondered how it would be if some harmony and Asian percussion was added to it. By the time she had finished I had perfectly imagined the style arrangements for this song." With obvious Oriental influences, like "A Lullaby of Takeda," it is lovely.

Eri's vocals are much lighter and sensual than Anna Sugar's and the contrast is everso evident in the opeing of "Konjaku Monogatari." Contemporary instrumentals and Chinese flute interplay with Eri's a capeppa vocalisations. The track most reminiscent of Adiemus' sound is "Aqua." Performed only with vocals, it is the long version of the TV commercial song for 'Nippon Kodo.' Eri wrote, "I created an arrangement in which I used two types of voice and united them, and I put this into the chorus." It is stunning. The album's title track, "Mai," is equally inspiring and performed in the same, albeit more adventurous, style.

On "First Love" Eri provides vocalise in the style of the Niko (a Chinese stringed instrument). Accompanied by piano alone before the orchestra joins, the song further illustrates her vocal virtuousity. Lovely vocalise by Eri Sugai and Anna Sugar blend with traditional Asian instrumentation on the everso sensual new age track "Rakuen." Layers of Eri's a capella vocals are supported only by light (hand clapping) percussion in the upbeat track "A Song Of Birth." The album concludes with the dynamic "China Rose." On the last two tracks we found the vocal harmonies and further effects as amazing as they were beautiful.

Eri Sugai told us, "I love singing and making songs! Mai's clear and ethnic voice is personal investment from my other studio work. Even though I use many styles of singing, my heart is one." She continued with a metaphor, "Like when we are in a room with a fireplace, like when we are in the body of our monther, this music will keep you warm, well, happy and in peace. I hope you enjoy them all."

Mai will be released outside of Japan in early 2001 and can be ordered from amazon.com here. The album is a stunning testament to Eri Sugai's songwriting and vocal talents. We were reminded instantly of Adiemus from first listen and are certain that the album will appeal to Karl Jenkins and Miriam Stockley enthusiasts. Certainly worth a trans-pacific or cross-country journey and today's import prices, this album is a must listen!

 
Filippa Giordano Passioni
Image © 2000 Sugar Music

Filippa Giordano Passioni
Image © 2000 Sugar Music
 

(12 November 2000) The self-titled album by Filippa Giordano serves as a wonderful introduction to this exciting vocal talent (review). The artist's earlier album is entitled Passioni (Sugar Music (Italy) SGRD 77826, 1999). The lovely image of the artist shown to the left is from the inside of the booklet accompanying the compact disc while the one below it is from the cover.

While Passioni shares seven tracks with Giordano's self-titled project, it includes five unique to the release. We found Passioni to be more accessible, with more pop-oriented adult alternative tracks than classic arias. We were reminded of Mariah Carey and Celine Dion more than Sarah Brightman when listening to this extremely well-produced album.

As with the self-titled album, Passioni opens with the "Casta Diva" aria; it also shares "Vissi D'Arte," "Addio Del Passato," "Lost Boys Calling," "You Are The One," "Dissonanze" and "Maria" with her latest release. Several of the arrangements differ slightly, with those on Passioni being more pop-, or dance-oriented. The five tracks exclusive to Passioni include "Anyway," "Un Giorno in Piu'," "From A Distance," "Fly Me Away" and "By The Sea."

"Anyway" is an upbeat contemporary track sung mid range. A blend of rock and orchestral arrangements back Filippa singing in a Celine Dion style soaring gently in the song's choruses. The evocative ballad "Un Giornao in Piu'" is sung sensitively in Italian over a light guitar and orchestral arrangement and the high notes are especially reminiscent of Mariah Carey's work. The artist's sensuality is evident in the pop-oriented ballad "From A Distance." The crescendo within the song's chorus is a testament to Filippa's powerful and expansive voice. Certain to please a broad range of audiences, it is a stunning track.

Filippa's voice is perfectly supported by the rich orchestral arrangements in the sensitive ballad "Fly Me Away." Vocal excursions soar above instrumentals and pay tribute to the artist's virtuousity. Her range is accentuated in the anthem, "By The Sea (Maria)," where vocal passages soar above the stunning instrumental arrangements. We especially enjoyed the dynamic Passioni version of "Dissonanze." "By The Sea" is the English version of "Maria"; the latter being the Italian version of the same stunning and powerful anthem. A hidden 2:40 track consisting of a "By The Sea" / "Maria" instrumental begins at 5:08 after a blank spot following the conclusion of "Maria."

At this time Passioni is only available outside Europe as an import. With five highly accessible tracks and alternative arrangements to some of the pop-oriented tracks on her self-titled album, we think that Passioni should form a part of any serious enthusiast's Filippa Giordano collection. Certainly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, it is as good as or perhaps better than the artist's self-titled album. We think that Filippa Giordano's Passioni is absoultely a must listen!

 
Joanne Juskus Demo
Image © 2000 Joanne Juskus Music 
 

(18 November 2000) Joanne Juskus is making excellent progress towards her first solo album due for release early next year. Musical Discoveries received a self-titled eight track demo from the Washington, DC-based artist to review in October. Produced and co-written by Brad Allen, the recording highlights Joanne's heavenly vocal work compared by some to Annie Haslam and others to Joni Mitchell and Kate Bush. Yet others hear Sandy Denny at times. The demo recordings, made in Greenworld (McLean, VA), illustrate the range.

Light guitar- and keyboard-based arrangements compliment evocatively sung lead vocals in "Never Be The Same" and "Meet You There." We were especially reminded of Joni Mitchell's work in these tracks. A softly almost-spoken brief track entitled "Waters of March," the one track on the recording written by Antonio Carlos Jobim, warms up after a rather stark beginning and illustrates the clarity of the artist's voice.

"Breathing Underwater" and "New Religion" move into light rock and blues respectively. Joanne's voice is especially evocative in "New Religion" and the guitar arrangements add greatly to the overall sound. Joanne's emotional vocal delivery in "'Till I See You Again" reflects her artistic sensitivity while a thicker instrumental arrangement reveals another side of Brad Allen's production talent.

Especially noteworthy tracks on our demo are "I Am" and our favourite "Within Your Fire." Soaring and sensual vocals sung are effectively complimented by light keyboards and light guitar and percussion in the former, while progressive arrangements of the latter produce a very Renaissance-like sound and reflect the Annie Haslam side of Joanne's vocal style.

The epic "Within Your Fire" blends Indian sounds with modern rock and Joanne's soaring vocal lead. Dynamic keyboards and guitar solos reveal the artists' instrumental skills and extremely well-produced progressive arrangements. Joanne's voice is perfectly suited for progressive rock—we certainly hope that her debut album will feature more of it. Joanne is accompanied by Brad Allen (guitars, keys) and Joe Princiato (drums).

Our preview of the artist's demo recordings reveals a notable singer / songwriter with an extremely bright future. Also an established graphic artist, the stunning pre-production demo package was self-produced. Click here to access Joanne's mp3.com webspace where you can sample some of these tracks for yourself. We will anxiously await Joanne's debut release and can assure readers of an update once it is received at our headquarters. Worth a journey, these demos are indeed a very nice listen!

 
Dream A Dream Album Cover
Image © 2000 Sony Music Entertainment

Charlotte Church (2000)
Photo Simon Fowler
© 2000 Sony Classical
 

(18 November 2000) Just in time for the holiday season are two new releases by Charlotte Church. The compact disc is entitled Dream A Dream (Sony Classical (USA) SK 89463) and features nineteen tracks featuring the stunning young vocalist. The DVD is similarly titled: Dream A Dream — Charlotte Church In The Holyland. It is comprised of twelve tracks and an additional bonus track. The DVD also contains extra photographs and a discography amongst further artist information.

Church's first album Voice Of An Angel was released in run up to the Christmas season in 1998. The album achieved instant commercial success and critical acclaim. The artist's first video Charlotte Church in Concert found itself in the centre of PBS promotional campaigns at its release. A second self-titled album (review) featured a long version of a soundtrack done for the international re-launch of the Ford Motor Company's advertising campaign entitled "Just Say Hello" produced by Trevor Horn. The young artist was again blessed with critical acclaim and commercial success.

Both of Sony's latest Charlotte Church releases—CD and DVD—are tremendous. Here enthusiasts will hear stunning crystalline vocals and superb orchestral arrangements. No expenses were spared in either case as evidenced by top technical production in orchestration, recording and quality packaging. Extensive lyrics and lots of photographs are included in booklet accompanying the compact disc.

The DVD was produced by BBC and PBS in conjunction with other organizations. The video, made at the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem, is truly lovely and illustrates the further development of Charlotte's stage presence. Her stylistic similarity to Sarah Brightman continues to grow. Intersperced between several of the audio selections are short snippets of Charlotte in the Holyland made when she was fourteen but it the video of the secular Christmas material seems to have been made more recently.

The dubbed audio makes full use of the 5.1 environment and sounds great. Mixing is again tops with vocals shining way above the supporting instrumentals demonstrating the power, range and emotive delivery of the young artist. Our editors especially enjoyed the stage performance of the material despite the audio dubbing. The audio from Charlotte's latest track, "Dream A Dream," closes the DVD. A truly live performance must be a real specticle (as evidenced by the Charlotte Church in Concert video where she did perform several of the numbers live).

The compact disc is an incredible collection. While some might complain that only one unique Charlotte Church track is included, the album contains a total of nineteen songs, rare for a major commercial release these days. Each of the pieces is well performed, rich in production, and mixed to perfectly highlight the tremendous vocal talent of this now well-established young artist. Supporting orchestra and choir parts demonstrate the significant production expense that went into this recording. We can think of no traditional Christmas piece that has been omitted from the collection.

"Dream A Dream" is a stunning track in its own right. It is sung with country singing sensation Billy Gilman and is a lovely blend of Fauré's well known Pavane with holiday music themes and contemporary orchestral arrangements. We also especially enjoyed "The Conventry Carol" (Lullay). Only Miriam Stockley's version on Merry Christmas To The World stands alongside it. Charlotte's interpretation of "Ave Maria" demonstrates the range, power and virtuosity of the lead singer. The "Silent Night" video used to promote the album is a bonus track on the DVD and is a stunning performance of the seasonal favourite in both places.

As the holiday season quickly approaches, we're sure that many Musical Discoveries readers will want to investigate Charlotte Church's new album Dream A Dream further. While we would have appreciated another one or two "new" numbers like the title signature track, this is a lovely collection of holiday music certain to appeal to a wide audience. Listen to soundbites, read further reviews and order the compact disc from amazon.com here.

The DVD is certain to enthrall Charlotte Church fans as well and a perfect stocking stuffer for your new DVD player, it is certainly worth a viewing. Read further reviews and order it from amazon.com here. Watch for a preview on PBS in the final run up to the holidays. This pair of holiday season releases by this young vocalist are certain to appeal to a broad audience and are certain to expand her audience. With stunning vocal work and excellent stage presence, they are worth a cross country journey—the CD is a must listen!

 
Christy Baron Steppin CD Cover
Image © Chesky Records 2000

More Christy Baron
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Christy Baron
Image © 2000 Chesky Records
 

(18 November 2000) The second jazz-oriented project by singer and actress Christy Baron is entitled Steppin' (Chesky Records (USA) JD201, 2000). Twelve tracks spanning slightly over 50 minutes focus on what Baron calls "modern standards" or "new standards." As with all Chesky's products, this is an audiophile recording incorporating their high resolution '96/24' technology. Like the label's other projects, this album was recorded live, this time over a three day stint in St Peter's Episcopal Church. Chesky's technical production, compact disc pressing and overall packaging are still the best.

One of the new standards is Christy's unique jazz interpretation of Peter Gabriel's "Mercy Street" covered last year by Miriam Stockley on her debut solo album. An equally unique, world-beat style, interpretation of The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows," and string-based jazz interpretation of Prince's "Thieves In The Temple" certain to appeal to a broad audience also adorn the stunning compact disc. Baron's voice blends throatiness with crystal clear vocalisations to produce a sound that is as evocative as it is sensual.

The bluesy texture and lounge sound of Christy's interpretation of the Phil Collins' classic "This Must Be Love" is lovely. Alex Henderson wrote, "Steppin' will come as a surprise to those whose introduction to Baron was her recording debut of 1996, I Thoguht About You. While that Cliff Korman-produced effort wasn't without R&B and pop elements and found Baron interpreting The Beatles' "Got To Get You Into My Life," Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" and Stevie Wonder's "Summer Soft," it was acoustic-oriented and employed a basic piano trio."

"On Steppin' we wanted to do something different," says David Chesky, "so I asked Didier Rachou to take a few chances and produce something new." He is more contemporary in his approach, mixing jazz, world music and cutting edge-electronica styles. And it's clearly evident in the tracks "Is Love Enough," "Night and Day"—sung as a contrasting duet between Christy Baron and Curtis King—and the album's signature track "Ain't No Half-Steppin'." The dimensions of Chesky's production quality shines in Christy's lovely interpretation of the Atlanta Rhythm Section's "Spooky."

We especially enjoyed Baron's performance of The Zombies' "She's Not There." She puts a very funky, R&B spin on the song. Comments Baron, "My interpretation of 'She's Not There' changes the whole perspective of the song. When The Zombies recorded it, 'She's Not There' was done from a guy's perspective. But my version is a woman telling a guy, 'Get it together, she's not around, but I'm here. Get over it." The raw clarity of Christy's voice is evident in "The Shadow Of Your Smile" with its especially light jazz lounge accompaniment.

From the liner notes, Christy Baron comments, "If Miles Davis were alive today, he'd be continuing to grow and challenge himself. He had to do his own thing, which is why he was an inspiration to so many artists. It's important for artists to express what they honestly feel—and with this album, I was able to incorporate many of the styles that I love and use them to make a personal statement."

We agree with LA Jazz Scene who insists Christy Baron is "a young singer well worth keeping an eye on." Listen to soundbites, read further reviews and order the album at amazon.com here. A jazz-oriented album that blends sounds from pop, R&B, electronica and world beat, this latest project from Christy Baron on Chesky Records is worth a journey—indeed a very nice listen!

 
Theta Seeds of a Dream CD Cover
Image © 1999 Musea Records 
 

(18 November 2000) The latest progressive rock project from Japanese singer Yoko Royama is Theta's Seeds Of A Dream (Musea (France) FGBG 4332.AR, 2000). Nine tracks featuring soaring angelic vocals adorn the stunning compact disc. The singer received significant notariety on the Vermillion Sands album Water Blue (Musea (France) FGBG 4293.AR, 1999; Made In Japan Records (Japan) MCD2913, 1987), largely due to the band's similarity to Renaissance and Yoko Royama's vocal style to their lead singer Annie Haslam. An extremely rare solo album entitled Sunny Days (Bonsai Records (Japan) BNCD 001) was recorded between the two projects.

In addition to vocalist Yoko Royama who also contributes flute parts, Theta is comprised of Naoyuki Harada (drums), Yuko Tsuchiya (keyboards) and Kazuhito Kawakami (bass). The album also incorporates guest appearances by ex-Vermillion Sands artist Mashahiro Yamada (keyboards) and Junko Minobe (violin), Akihisa Tsuboy (violin), Eiji Nishigori (guitar), Keisuki Ai (guitar). Vocal parts are sung in Japanese or English alternatively.

The album opens with a light contemporary ballad-like track featuring lovely violin and keyboard arrangements entitled "Footprints" sung by Yoko Royama in English. The full spledour of the band is evident as the song develops. "Afterglow" is a lovely instrumental featuring Yoko's flute and as the arrangements develop is a tribute to the virtuosity of the band members.

While some will compare Theta and Vermillion Sands to that Renaissance featuring Annie Haslam, the harpsichord, flute and basic structure of "Beyond the Wall of Time" is most reminscent of Renaissance Faire music. Sung in Japanese with Yoko's vocalise excursions joined by male vocals as well, it is a lovely albeit short track. A similar style is evident in "Tasogare no nakade" led by its violin part and Yoko's perfectly complimenting Japanese language vocal. Multi-tracking in the final choruses adds a lovely texture blending vocals with string arrangements. Layers of harmonizing vocals accompanied by acoustic guitar in "Summer Night Dream" also produce a Renaissance Faire sound. A lovely flute solo is a highlight of the track.

Clearly the highlights of the album are the progressive tracks "The Toy-Airplane" and "Mourning for a Falling," Instrumental movements perfectly compliment soaring vocals sung in Japanese. With vocals introduced between major instrumental parts, the band clearly demonstrates a sound of classic Renaissance. Keyboard and string solo excursions work well within the overall arrangement and are especially well played.

The Parisian sound of "IZUMI" from the dark side..." is a tribute to the band's label (Musea), a lovely epic-length, cabaret-style track sung in English! We especially enjoyed Yoko's vocal excursions in the concluding passages of the song. The album concludes with "Muscial Box of Nostalgia." A potpurri of classic melodies are initially woven together with Yoko's stunning lead vocal, mixed way up with a noticable reverb nicely offsetting the violin part and keyboard effects. Most classical in its arrangement, it is a stunning little ballad.

Theta's Seeds of the Dream is a tremendous project featuring Yoko Royama's stunning vocals and well-produced instrumental arrangements by the band members. The album is available from popular progressive rock dealers or from the label's website. Clearly one of the better progressive albums we've heard this year, this one is worth a cross-country journey and is a must listen in all respects!

 
Don't Cry 'Til You Get To The Car CD Cover
Image © 1997 Refuge Records 
 

(18 November 2000) The first album from Omaha, Nebraska-based Mulberry Lane is entitled Don't Cry 'Til You Get To The Car (Refuge Records (USA) RFGD-11906, 1998) was released almost two full years ago. Their followup, Run Your Own Race from 1999 (review) achieved broad commercial success and critical acclaim. The band exhibits a significant stylistic similarity to Wilson Phillips, who unfortunatly disbanded in the mid-1990s. Clearly Mulberry Lane are, along with The Corrs, filling the void left from this breakup. The fact that the four Mulberry Lane band members are physically stunning has little to do with it!

Don't Cry 'Til You Get To The Car is comprised of eleven highly accessible pop-oriented vocal tracks. Vocal harmonies dominate the arrangements with lead parts piercing through appropriately. The album is certain to enthrall heavenly vocal enthusiasts. Upbeat tracks include the everso "Hold On"-style "Harmless," and "I Don't Love You." A certain favourite is the gently rocking Wilson Phillips style "Just One Breath" where a lovely lead vocal is perfectly balanced with harmonies in the choruses and superb instrumental arrangements.

Hearfelt ballads are well sung and drip with emotion. These include "Unending Hope," "Abbie Marie" and "The Why" with their lovely vocal harmonies, and the sensually sung Corrs style "Would You Know Her?" Three live tracks include the almost-Gospel tune "Jerimiah," the tender "Just Another Friday" acoustic ballad and the acoustic harmony "The Tree Song." The album closes with "Carnival Lights," a country style ballad track with lead vocals and lovely harmonies certain to appeal to a broad audience.

Mulberry Lane's debut album is a wonderful introduction to this stunning four woman band. Stylistically similar to both Wilson Phillips and The Corrs, this one is certain to appeal to fans of either or both. You can read further reviews, hear soundbites and order Don't Cry 'Til You Get To The Car" from amazon.com here. Certainly worth further exploration, this lovely debut is worth a journey—a very nice listen indeed!

 
Tell Me The Truth About Love CD Cover
Image © 1998 Mary Carewe,
2000 ASV Ltd.
 
 

(18 November 2000) Originally released almost two years ago by Mary Carewe independently, her debut "solo" album Tell Me The Truth About Love (ASV Ltd (UK) CD WHL 2124, 2000) is now generally available worldwide. Musical Discoveries' readers will likely recognise Mary's name from the work she has done with Miriam Stockley on Karl Jenkins' Adiemus projects (review). A well established session and theatrical singer/performer, Mary's album features nineteen cabaret standards and runs over 73 minutes. Mary's recordings include notable tracks from the work of George Gershwin, Franz Waxman, Mischa Spoliansky, Friedrich Hollaender, Dominic Muldowney and Benjamin Britten primarily written in the 1930s with two from the early '40s and just one from 1993.

The album's vocal work is exclusively by Mary Carewe while piano accompaniment and arrangements are by Philip Mayers. Orchestral performances are by 'Blue Noise.' An album for theatre affectionados, every track is extremely well sung with emotions clear in Mary's crystalline vocal excursions. Stand out tracks include Britten's "Tell Me The Truth About Love" from 1938 and Gershwin's "Blah, Blah, Blah" (1931). We especially enjoyed the various themes within "Tell Me The Truth About Love" and how they are perfectly complimented by Mary's soaring vocalisations of the lyrical content. Her range, depth and power are all evident within this stunning and almost epic-length track.

Orchestral arrangements in "Blah, Blah, Blah" (Gershwin, 1931) include woodwind and strings that perfectly compliment Mary's sensually sung vocal part. These arrangements continue into "Embraceable You" and "They All Laughed" and provide an effective backdrop for the lead vocal part. While some of the recordings are accompanied strictly by piano, many are accompanied by the Blue Noise ensemble from Berlin. Blue Noise have extensive experience in leading symphony orchestras, chamber orchestras, ensembles for new music and diverse chamber music groups. This is first and foremost a vocal album and careful attention has been paid in production to feature Mary Carewe's lovely voice.

Clearly Mary Carewe's Tell Me The Truth About Love is a lovely album of cabaret standards by a well-established singer and is certain to appeal to theatre goers worldwide. Read further reviews, obtain further information and order the album from amazon.com here. Vocally top notch with equally stunning arrangements, Mary's album is clearly worth a journey—a very nice listen indeed!

 
Kristin Banks Silent Prayer EP Cover
Image © 2000 Moon-Rose Records

Kristin Banks Gypsy Souls EP Cover
Image © 2000 Moon-Rose Records
 

(18 November 2000) The two latest EPs by Kristin Banks are entitled Gypsy Souls and Silent Prayer. Both are available from mp3.com as Digital Audio Music CDs currently. Earlier this year the artist released a four track EP of live tracks entitled Live at mp3.com in the same format; based on the earnings statistics, this release mechanism is working quite well for the attractive singer songwriter. Our review of Kristin's first album House Of Echoes has drawn a lot of attention from Musical Discoveries' readers.

One of the internet's most popular artists, Kristin is catching the attention of industry professionals while capturing the hearts of listeners around the world. Kristin has been featured numerous times on mp3.com, includin the "Artist Spotlight," "Song Of The Day," "Hot New MP3" and "Featured Love Song." The songs "City Of Angels," "These Dreams Of Mine" and "Jewel In Your Crown" have all reached the #1 spot in their genre charts, and "City Of Angels" was recently names Easy Listening Song of the Year (1999) by mp3.com.

Silent Prayer is a five-track EP and as a DAM will play in mp3 format on your computer and in full audio splendour on a standard CD player. The album opens with "How It All Came Down," a lovely vocal track with rocking instrumental arrangements. The ballad "Silent Prayer" illustrates the sensual side of Kristin's vocal talent as it is sung with tremendous emotion and only light accompaniment. While "Rock Me Baby" is a gently rocking ballad, Kristin's voice soars above the backing harmonies in the choruses.

We thoroughly enjoyed the instrumental intensity and stunning production quality of the country-style rocking of "Only Love." The choruses are drenched with emotion as Kristin's lead vocal soars above the backing harmonies. Tremendous instrumental arrangements support "One Small Candle" that closes the EP. This is a stunning lightly rocking track that perfectly illustrates Kristin's range, power and depth. Certain to appeal to a broad audience range mixing a soaring lead with lovely backing harmonies, this track alone is worth the entire price of the EP.

Gypsy Souls is comprised of five radio friendly easy listening tracks that rock with a country edge. "Gift Of Love" opens the EP. It's simple mix reveals the wonderful vocal talent of this emerging singer. The production quality is substantially improved with the dynamic instrumental arrangements of the title track that follow. A driving light rock song entitled "Your Angel" reveals the power and range of the artist in her soaring vocal excursions. We especially enjoyed vocal harmonies as well as the the guitar- and keyboard-based arrangements.

"Finding Myself" is a lovely and sensitively sung ballad with only light instrumentation supporting Kristin's mid-register lead vocal. The EP concludes with a light country-style ballad entitled "How Do I Deal." The lead vocal part is especially illustrative of the power, range and depth of the artist's talent and is performed in what we call a Star Search style. It is a tremendous track, worth the price of the EP on its own.

Clearly Kristin Banks is making excellent progress towards a second commercial release. While we would have preferred all of the tracks to be included in one package with complete liner notes, the DAM format is an excellent way to be introduced to the artist's new material. Both of the EPs are available from Kristin Banks' mp3.com website. Visit today and have a listen. With a new album certain to emerge soon, Kristin Banks' latest EPs are worth a journey—a very nice listen indeed!

 
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