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.
Spirits of the World
More Digest Entries
Previous Digest Entries
Image © 2000
(23 June 2000) Spirits of the World (Earthtone (USA) 963-277-922-2, 2000)
is one the better various artist compilation albums available today. Our
exploration of the album was initially inspired by Miriam Stockley's recording
entitled "Brave New World." As expected, her contribution was exceptional,
but the other songs presented an unexpected and surprisingly good bonus.
In fact, the first cut on the album, "Lyra," by Celtic Spirit, is a very
close rival to Miriam's "Brave New World." It is a thoroughly enjoyable
"Lyra," by Celtic Spirit, a hauntingly beautiful song, is very close to our
favorite on the album. The nostalgic a capella introduction gives way to a
lively, upbeat musical accompaniment which leaves no doubt that it is a
traditional Irish ballad. Ikarus' "In My Deepest Dreams," features
Middle-Eastern vocals and percussion mixed with electronic accompaniment
and produces a pleasant, upbeat listening experience. Godvina can always
be counted on to produce interesting, unique sounds. "Compassion" is no
exception. It is very difficult to categorize; a touch of Indian, Spanish,
Middle-Eastern, and a few others we couldn't identify. The homogeny of
styles and instruments creates a unique and appealing musical event.
"Summertime," by Angelique Kidjo is on of the most enjoyable renditions of
Gershwin's Summertime that I've ever heard. It is sung in an African language
and accompanied by traditional and non-traditional instrumentation. The
total affect is pure listening pleasure. "Turale" by Yasue is haunting,
seductive and thoroughly enjoyable. Upbeat, with interesting melodic intertwines,
it is sung in an invented language, with unusual, unexpected vocal mixing.
"Namah Shivaya," by Krishna Das is a Hindu chant, set to upbeat percussions,
with interesting vocals.
As a chant it is somewhat repetitive and might not appeal to a broad audience.
Natacha Atlas' "Mon Amie La Rose" will certainly steal your heart.
The style is a mixture of Middle-Eastern and Asian, the language is French, and
the beautiful, seductive voice of Natcha Atlas brings it all together in an
intoxicating, erotic musical experience certain to please listeners.
"Brave New World" by Julia Taylor-Stanley and sung by Miriam Stockley is one
of our favourites from the album. Miriam Stockley, is one of the most talented singers/composers in existence today. And her voice is purely angelic. Given that,
the track will appeal to the broadest of audiences. Sung in English, with African
choral overlays, it is a celebration of Africa, Miriam's home. Totally,
thoroughly enjoyable, the song is the best on the album. Primal Instinct's
"Heart of the Rainforest" is relaxing, meditative, with the lush rain forest
quietly overlaying the music. The mild percussions and flute prevent the common
desire to doze off to environmentally inspired music. "Hope," by Bryan Miller
begins with a quiet, serene score, which is gently modified with percussions and
background vocals. The connection to a Central American primitive culture, as
described in the insert, is obvious throughout. The theme of hope is solidly
pronounced in this delightful instrumental.
Gaia's "The New World" can best be described as electronic and primitive.
With the introduction of the vocal chanting, it almost sounds as if it might be
Australian or Native American inspired. Whatever the inspiration, the deep
spirituality of the song is its primary message and it is delivered with skill
and talent. "Lhasa Love," by Suzanne Teng is a lively Chinese folk instrumental. Charmingly beautiful throughout, the children audibly playing in the background
lend an added touch of cultured innocence. "Shivo'ham, Shivo'ham," by Dave Stringer
is Middle-Eastern in style, the combination of instruments and vocals creates an
obvious spiritual production that is pleasing, without the repetitive chanting
found in the previously described Namah Shivaya. As with Godvina, Dead Can Dance
can always be relied on to produce the unusual and unexpected. In "Yulunga," there
is an obvious Middle-Eastern overtone, but the vocals remind of a Native American
influence. A unique and penetrating musical experience.
This thoroughly enjoyable album will appeal to new age and female vocal
enthusiasts alike. You can order Spirits Of The World at a variety
of online shops including amazon.com by clicking
here. With a stunning new track by Miriam Stockley bracketed by excellent
work by various artists it is certainly a
must listen!—K. Donald Baer.
Image © 2000
Omtown / Higher Octave Music
(15 July 2000) The new album from singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist
Kate Price is entitled The Isle Of Dreaming (Omtown (USA) OMCD 48526, 2000).
A long awaited followup to her previous album Deep Heart's Core
(Omtown Music (USA) 44859, 1997), the nine-track masterpiece is a natural
development from the artist's prior work which also includes her debut
The Time Between (Priceless Productions (USA) PP402, 1993). Categorised
correctly by the label as "a Celtic influenced fusion of exotic vocals, folk,
classical, jazz and ethnic music," Price contributes vocals and her typical
range of worldly instrumentals including hammered dulcimer, hummel and
harmonium. Arranged by Kate Price with Teja Bell, the featured artist is
supported by bevy of additional musicians and instruments. Album packaging is
stunning with the booklet including lyrics, comprehensive credits and lovely
World themes are evident in many of the album's tracks, primarily through
the string arrangements and non-lyrical vocal samples. Almost jamming
instrumentals and percussion add to mystical musical themes developed in
the epic length track "Voices Of My People." Melodies and supporting
harmonies on the album's more accessible tracks will hook folk
and new age enthusiasts. The lovely title track effectively blends an
exotic instrumental with a short and sensitive ballad-style vocal passage.
The string melodies and woodwind-sounding keyboard harmonies within the
instrumental tracks "Andalusia, "Kate Counts Eight" and "Lanxty
Almblade-Cruso" are highly memorable. Acoustic guitar and dulcimer
dominate the instrumental "Mystic Warrior" while vocal samples provide
a stunning backdrop to the melody as the track begins; vocals take over
as the track builds towards its conclusion.
The album's vocal-oriented numbers clearly demonstrate Kate Price's
evocative and sensual delivery, presenting her ability to gently soar
above otherwise folky themes. Her performance in "The Phoenix" is
especially enjoyable. Kate Price's vocal style is best compared
to Rachel Jones (Karnataka), although
allusions to Loreena McKennitt can also clearly be heard. Vocals
are echoed by whistle and other instruments in the upbeat Celtic
influenced track "Sea Of Silence." The album concludes with
"Beloved," a light folky ballad with Celtic influences spanning
the sweet and sensitively delivered vocals and calling whistle
parts. The vocal layering works quite well.
You can order Kate Price's The Isle Of Dreaming from amazon.com
and her earlier album Deep Heart's Core
Kate Price's music will appeal to those that enjoy Clannad, Enya and Connie Dover's
work. Her latest album, The Isle Of Dreaming is characterised by
its substantial depth, excellent production, and overwhelming attention to
detail. The collection of worldly themes within the instrumental arrangements
when coupled with Kate's stunning vocal work makes the recording worth a journey.
We certainly think it is a must listen!
Image © 1999
(15 July 2000) Although she has written over 300 songs, Lobelia's first recording
features only thirteen of them and is entitled Solitary World (Lobelia, Inc
(USA) 6 46397 10762 7, 1999). "Lobelia's lyrical stories reach out to the individual
listener, drawing them into the lives of of her characters." Now
aged 27, the response to Lobelia's music has been tremendous and "only time
will tell what the future has in store" for her.
Produced by James Marlin and fronted by Dan Kane, Solitary World was
recorded in only three months in Winser, Nebraska. Lobelia is currently based
in Morgantown, West Virginia. Her music can best be categorised as general
pop, but as an indie release, her album doesn't adhere to the stigma often
associated with pop culture. A particularly attractive
of the artist adorns the back of the booklet accompanying the CD.
Further photographs are available in her website's
The album features upbeat, highly accessible, moving vocal tracks and also
a collection of ballads. The opening track "So Many Promises" is a fast paced
track with sweet vocal layers supported by nicely arranged rock instrumentals
and a stunning and highly memorable soaring lead vocal. The guitar parts
compliment the vocal work in the moderate paced "I Can't Forget"
while the keyboards and piano perfectly support the dynamic vocal arrangement
in the lovely title track. Vocal layers work extremely well, complimenting
the orchestral instrumental arrangement in "Matter Of Feelings."
The ballads include "I'm Lost" with it's highly emotive delivery and a
passionate track sung over piano called "Time Will Tell" which would be
perfectly at home at one of the WB TV teen shows like Dawson's Creek.
The emotionally wrenching "You Never Knew Me" and "Soul Destroyed" would be
equally at home in the TV show setting.
"Rain" and "Empty Handed" are sung wonderfully over a lively piano melody;
vocal layers in the choruses are sweet and evocative. Orchestral backing
is added in "Mask," a lovely and highly accessible ballad with a rocking
edge and dynamic vocal excursions that add to the overall texture of the
track. We especially enjoyed the lushly sung ballad "Quiet." Powerful and
sensual vocals are perfectly complimented by layers of guitar. The artist's
vocal qualities are likely best illustrated in the extremely sensitive
(think slow-dancing) ballad "Life."
The artist's work is available from online sources and there are plenty
of downloads available for listener sampling. Soundbites, further information
and Digital Audio Music CDs can be ordered at Lobelia's
website. Lobelia's debut album
provides a first glimpse into the vocal talent and diversity of this rapidly
rising singer songwriter. Certain to achieve both industry acclaim and commercial
success, female vocal enthusiasts will want to watch her career develop further.
The debut album is worth a journey, indeed a very nice listen!
Image © 1999
Zoe Stafford Interview
Songs From Beyond The Merrygolight
The Beautiful, The Delicate and The True
(15 July 2000) Fula are a five-piece English progressive band that meld
a variety of influences into their sound. Although currently fronted by
a new young vocalist named Josie
their current album Dark Matter
(Fulamusic (UK) FCD1, 1999) features lead vocals by Zoe Stafford who
recently left the band to pursue a singing career elsewhere. We
saw Fula live at the Classic Rock Society in Rotherham, England support
Karnataka on 01 July 2000 (review).
For the most part they faithfully reproduce their recorded sound in the live setting
with the exception of the lead vocal part. The attractive young singer
is doing a good job but currently lacks the energy, diversity and vocal
maturity of their former member.
Fula have gone through several lineup changes over the band's career
which spans at least the last fifteen years. Dark Matter
is their one album; with 14 tracks spanning just over 60 minutes, it is
a commendable song-based progressive rock album. In addition to their
Josie, the band is comprised of leader Rob Gould (keyboards), Greg Boulton
(drums), Jason Gilman (guitars) and Nigel Moss (bass). Significantly harsher
than Karnataka in their sound, the Classic Rock Society audience enjoyed
their opening performance. While we found the live show a bit tedious, we
enjoyed their album substantially more. Dark Matter is entirely
self-produced and pressed on CD-R. Attractive artwork that accompanies it
includes all lyrics and has been produced by computer as well.
The album's title track is a dynamic progressive rocker with excellent
keyboard and guitar excursions, rhythmic percussion and a delightful soaring
lead vocal part. While some at Rotherham were intrigued by the band's pulsing
"Vanity" (Insanity), it is the one track the band has done that does nothing
for us, primarily due to the lack of vocal diversity within it. The album's
tracks generally feature stunning vocal parts and the range of styles
available adds to its appeal.
Symphonic instrumental arrangements and layers of harmony vocals compliment
the lead in the gentle rocking and stunning tracks "Girl In The Window" and
"Banner Of Shadows," certainly two of our favourite tracks by the band.
Clearly the instrumentals are more dominant in the latter with lovely
guitar excursions, but they are never overly agressive; melodies and
supporting harmonies are balanced with rhythm and crisp production
(especially drums and percussion) and add to the accessibility of the two
Dark Matter's softer and more atmospheric songs are dominated by
sensitively sung—at times soaring—vocals. These include "Nothing,"
"Everything" and the lovely atmospheric piece "River One - Part One."
Certain to appeal to those that like the band's softer side, "Behind Cold
Eyes" is a tender ballad with vocal layers soaring above a light keyboard-
and guitar-based instrumental arrangements that build as the track comes
to its conclusion.
"A New Advance" combines the band's softer style with a more agressive
guitar-ridden instrumental and a more complex, almost experimental,
vocal melody. "Where Did We Go Wrong?" is dominated by vast instrumental
prowess, primarily with reaching guitar riffs, driving bass and powerful
percussion; vocals are far more instrumental in their construction.
The rock anthems "Cynthia" and "Insanity" are dominated by the band's
powerful rhythm section and instrumentals and will appeal to those that
like music with a harder edge. The latter will certainly appeal to
Fula's Dark Matter is available from the band directly via their
website and is an album worth further exploration. The band are charting
a bright future in 2000 with support slots for major acts like Camel in
their plans. If the tremendous preview of a new 30-minute epic that was
performed in Rotherham is any indication, their new album due out later this
to be very exciting. With the range of styles available, solid production and
Zoe's excellent vocal work, we found Fula's album particularly enjoyable
and worthy of further exploration. It is certainly a very nice listen!
Image © 1996
(15 July 2000) Singer songwriter Jennifer Onesto's debut album
Twenty Houses (BikiniCut Publishing (USA) 7 02677-011402 5, 1996) is
comprised of ten highly accessible alternative rock tunes.
Jen hails from Arlington Heights, IL and has been featured in
Lorelei Music Magazine and at Harmony Ridge Music.
Supported by a range of musicians, the album's tracks balance
heartfelt vocals with a variety of well-played instrumental
arrangements. A particularly attractive photograph of the
artist dominates the artwork used on the
back cover of the
compact disc package. Additional photos at the artist's website
and a downloadable video illustrate the dynamics in her live
"Twenty Houses is an album that offers a true alternative: A
fully produced wall of sound. Terrific melodies and harmonies. Big
guitar-driven accompaniment. You won't find any spare, jumbled
mixes with wispy, off-key lead vocals here. On the contrary,
Jennifer has a phenominal voice, harkening back to the great
female rock artists of the 60s and 70s. She has a clear, rich,
alto voice of uncommon quality-versatile enough to be equally at
home singing a driving rock tune as well as a soulful ballad."
We were particularly impressed with the vocal production of the
album and use of original instruments including steel drums ("Love
Changes Everything"), harmonica and sitar. Jen's vocals are mixed
way up and layering, when used, is very effective in producing lovely
harmonies to support individual tracks' melodies. While most of the
album's tracks rock to a significant extent, the album also features
one slower, equally enticing and evocative track entitled "Last
Dance." With more of an edge than Lobelia's album reviewed above,
this alternative rock album moves right along and with highly
accessible rock tunes should delight the broadest of audiences.
Further reviews of Jennifer's album Twenty Houses are available
and interested readers can order the album at amazon.com
here. Our viewers can find further information about the artist, download tracks
from the album, see a music video and purchase Digital Audio Music CDs from
Onesto's debut album Twenty Houses is a tremendous introduction to this
growing vocal talent. Worth further exploration and a journey, it is
a certainly very nice listen!
Image © 1995
Terry Hope Gladstone
(15 July 2000) Terry Gladstone's debut recording Words & Music
(Terry Hope Gladstone (USA) VS101, 1995) was recorded in late 1995 as a demo
to music publishers and the twelve tracks are as timeless today as they
were then. Terry provides all of the vocals on the album, however, she
has since recorded demos using different vocalists to cover her material.
She has been a radio discjockey for over fifteen years and has been on all
the major rock radio stations in Los Angeles. She has hosted her own
talk show, a New Age midnight program and an acoustic Sunday morning program
among others. Terry also worked at WTG/Sony in A&R where she worked with a
variety of artists ranging from Jason Bonham and Princess Stephanie. Her
background also includes studying music therapy and working with Downes
Syndrome patients. She has recorded a vast array of demos and is on the
satellite network of Westwood One radio.
Music on the recording was written primarily by Terry Gladstone. She
is supported by Alan Silva (keyboards), Dave Carpenter (bass), Steve
Klong (drums), Jimmy Stafford (guitar) and Michelle Mangione (percussion)
on the album. The album blends different styles of accessible rock and
easy listening tunes. Catching melodies are supported by harmony vocals
and lovely instrumental arrangements throughout. Both upbeat light rocking
tracks and soft, tender ballads are included. Keyboard work is especially
enticing, often adding texture to the tracks within the instrumental
bridges. The studio production certainly brought the most out of
Terry's sweet and sensitive voice.
The album is dominated by heartfelt ballads wrenched with vocal layers
and gentle accompaniment. We particularly enjoyed the way Terry's vocals
soar as the intensity of the songs build and her ability to be sensually
evocative as well as sultry by exploring different areas of her vocal
range. Examples include "Together In Our Hearts," "Trust My Heart,"
"What's True For Me," the evocative "One More Time,"
Gentle bar-style easy listening tunes continue to explore Terry's range
and are dominated by keyboard-based instrumental arrangements. These
include "Surrender To Love" and "Little One."
The bluesy "Run With The Fire" is sung primarily accompanied by acoustic
guitar with the lead vocal style adjusted accordingly and it differs from
the other ballads on the album in this respect.
The light rocking tunes of the album move right along and might be
equally comfortable being classified as easy listening. In "Havin' A
Blast" an almost spoken part is joined with a lively instrumental
arrangement with crisp percussion and rich production. A certain
favourite is the rocking "With Your Spirit" which combines layers of
soaring vocals with a lively piano melody, interplaying guitar part
and crisp percussion. We especially enjoyed the track "Worth The
Wait" which blends ballad and easy listening styles using lots of
vocal layers in the chorus. "Simple Dance" is the album's one
instrumental. It is a light bar-like number arranged by Alan Silva.
The album concludes with the stunning track "I Promise You My Love."
A certain favourite, it combines the range of Terry's vocal styles
with light rock arrangements and features a tremendous keyboard part
during the instrumental bridge.
It is clear from the text above that we quite enjoyed Terry Gladstone's
album Words & Music. While it has not been published, it provides
insight into the talent of this established singer, songwriter, music
professional. Interested readers should note that Terry Gladstone can be
contacted via her promotional agent, Teresa Conboy (P.O., Box 27766,
Los Angeles, CA 90027) or by e-mail at
Terry's music resides in the gentler regions of
the female vocalist space. A rare treat for music reviewers, the album
is certainly worth a journey and we thought it was a very nice listen!
Image © 1999
(16 July 2000) Fronted by Maria Miller, Crannog are a Celtic-crossover
band from Scotland that have recently changed their name to Keeba. Their
limited edition EP from 1997 was one of the first recordings provided to
Musical Discoveries for review.
Crannog's latest four track EP, Elegant Disguise (Crannog (UK)
CNOG002/99, 1999) was produced with a seven person lineup. Additions
since their earlier release include Kerry Barr (fiddle) and Fiona Gunn
(fiddle, clarsach, vocals). With the name change to Keeba, further
lineup changes have occurred. See the band's
website for additional
information! Soundbites from Elegant Disguise as well as bits of
four live tracks are available there.
It is clear from the outset of this new EP that Crannog have continued
to develop their sound. Unique in the way they combine Celtic themes with
rock accessibility, Maria Miller continues to the band forward with
her stunning lead vocal work. The new artists' inputs are evident with
significant enhancements being additional vocal harmonies and an even
lusher set of instrumental arrangements. Elegant Disguise includes
three all-new tracks and a new version of "The Deepest Pool" which was the
title track of their earlier EP. The structure of the EP is very much
the same in that it shows three distinct variations of the band's sound.
The pure accessibility of the band's sound is evident in the opening
track "Pacific Finance." Vocal harmonies support Maria's lead vocal work
while lush and moving instrumental arrangements will hook the most casual
listener. True to their Celtic heritage, the track "Mischief" combines
'mouth music' in a similar style to "The Porter Black" with contemporised
traditional instrumentals and a soaring vocal part. It is a tremendous
crossover track. Vocalise harmonies, powerful percussion passages and
electronic instrumentation add to the texture developed within the
The everso enjoyable rock tune "The Deepest Pool" has been seriously
reworked with additional percussion and thicker electric guitar parts.
Here melody and rhythm are perfectly combined with layers of harmony
contributing to a Celtic crossover track with pop sensibility—eat your
hearts out Corrs! The maturity in Maria's voice is evident in the lead
while gentle backing vocals and supporting instrumental arrangements add
to the lush texture of the track. The EP concludes with "Into The Fire,"
an all new moderate paced track with a stunning—in your face—lead vocal
part. Fiddles are eminent in the instrumental arrangement and when
contrasted with guitar, bass and percussion, contribute to the crossover
sound the band develops in the track. Changes in pace within the track
are evident and work well. Harmony vocals continue to add texture and
with the new fiddle parts contribute most significantly to the evolution
of the band's sound.
We were immediately impressed with the latest EP, Elegant Disguise
from Crannog. The additional musicians have made a significant impact
and the band have continued to grow since their first EP The Deepest
Pool. As they continue to search for commercial success with a new
name and further lineup changes, we hope that they don't lose the unique
formula that began with Crannog. The EP is available from the band's
website and is highly
recommended to our readers—get your copy immediately! Worth a
cross-country — perhaps even trans-atlantic — journey, this latest
recording from the group is a must listen!
Image © 2000
B. McCallion Gild The Lily Music
(16 July 2000) Bernadette McCallion is currently working on a retail-ready
album but is currently shopping her six-track demo called Cry Wolf
(Gild The Lily Music (USA), 2000) around. She is also offering a seven
track version of the recording as a Digital Audio Music CD at mp3.com.
Additional pictures, reviews, airplay info, mp3s, lyrics and more can be
found at Bernadette's
you can also order the DAM there.
Represented by Jacobson and Colfin, this 28 year old singer-songwriter from
New York has signed a publishing deal with DSM Producers and is a member of
ASCAP as a writer and publisher. McCallion also writes instrumental music for
film and television. In addition to being two-time semi-finalist in Musician
Magazine's Best Unsigned Band Contest, her 1998 self-produced EP received
positive crticial comments and independent airplay in North America. Prior
to embarking on her solo career, she sang in a pop/goth band playing keyboard,
guitar and singing and was featured on two of the band's commercially released
On Cry Wolf, Bernadette McCallion provides lead and backing vocals and
also contributes guitar and piano parts. She posesses a powerful voice and
expresses feelings behind the lyrics genuinely. McCallion is
supported by John DiGiulio (drums, percussion), Rich Gaglia (bass, electric
guitars and piano; co-producer) and Mark Corrigan (guitars) on the project.
The music is classified as alternative but is certainly among the more
accessible work we've heard. Lead vocal melodies are often supported
by lush backing harmonies and thick guitar-based arrangements. Percussion is
crisp and well produced. "Full Moon Course" and "House Of Straw" are two of
the rocking tunes on the EP. Both are memorable in their construction and
seriously sung lead vocals.
McCallion's ballad "Cry Wolf" has a sensitively sung lead vocal and layers
of lovely backing vocal harmonies forming a striking contrast to the artist's
more rocking numbers. An allusion to Julee Cruise (as with Sun Palace above)
is quite evident in this lovely track and the highlight of our EP.
"Angels, Etc." is richly arranged and like "White" is another rocker albeit
with sparser-guidar ridden-instrumental arrangements and a slightly spoken lead
vocal parts. An uncharacteristic orchestral texture develops as "White"
concludes. The track "What About Love?" concluded our EP. Thick guitar
interplays with keyboards during the instrumental excursions while vocals
explore a subtle melody. Vocal layers in the chorus are highly memorable.
Bernadette McCallion is continuing to build her reputation as a singer
songwriter with tracks doing very well at mp3.com and other online sources.
An established songwriter with a full length album around the corner, this
introductory collection of recordings shows that a promising career is
ahead. Worth exploration on the web and your compact disc player, the
EP should be heard to appreciate the talent behind it. Worth a journey
we found it to be a nice listen!
Image © 1996
Image © 2000
Image © 2000
(16 July 2000) The self-titled debut EP from Sally
Cooper contains four tracks that illustrate the depth
and range of this Austrailian singer songwriter. Cooper
performs lead and backing vocals and is supported by
Rex Goh (guitar), Richard Melick (keyboards and backing
vocals), Victor Rounds (bass), Chad Wackerman (drums)
and Tony Azzopardi (percussion).
From her mp3.com summary, "[Sally Cooper presents]
a sultry, soulful style and [with her 14-track Digital
Audio Music compact disc from mp3.com -- reviewed
below] offers a
sensational collection of universally appealing,
cleverly crafted and catchy songs. Each tells its
own unique tumultuous tale of love's endeavours.
The tunes here are Sally's best, each unique in
their own "hit written all over it" quality."
"Sally sings in a way that extracts an abundance of
emotion with each phrase and nuance. Refreshingly
sweet, passionate, and honest, you'll want to take
the time to delight your senses as she delivers her
tunes with an alternation of warm dulcet tones and
soaring vocals." We especially enjoyed both instrumental
and vocal excursions. The lead is sensuallly sung,
and evocative especially when she soars above the
otherwise lush instrumental arrangements.
We were amazed with the richness of the production
quality on the EP—it is first class all the way and
shares its style with work of Madonna and big name
artists operating on that level. Keyboards, guitars
and percussion are all perfectly arranged and balanced
against Sally's powerful, evocative and sultry voice.
"Love I Feel" is a gently rocking Madonna-like tune,
with several spoken segments between the lush harmonies
of the chorus. Sally Cooper's power is immediately
evident within the track despite the richness of the
instrumental arrangements. "Make You Mine" is a lovely
ballad sung sweetly and sensually over the lightest
instrumentation except during the instrumental bridge
where Rex Goh's guitar riffs dominate the sound.
"Never Too Late" is an upbeat dance-oriented tune
with a lovely lead vocal that soars above the R&B
instrumental arrangement. The EP concludes with a
lively bluesy tune entitled "Turn Around" that
shows Sally at her sultriest. Vocal production on
the last two tracks is notch and illustrates Cooper's
power and range.
(31 July 2000) The Sally Cooper Album.
A soulful selection of pop, R&B and
alternative tunes are presented by Australian songstress
Sally Cooper on her self-titled Digital Audio Music
(D.A.M.) CD (mp3.com (USA) 21425, 2000). The CD has both
full fidelity CD audio and mp3 versions of the 14 tracks
on it; the mp3 versions play through software contained
on the CD when used on a computer. The four tracks on
the EP reviewed above are also contained on the D.A.M.
In addition to performing as a solo artist, she is the
driving force behind The Sally Cooper Band and has worked
supporting well known musicians such as Frank Zappa,
Madonna, Barbara Streisand, Jenny Morris, Daryl
Braithwaite and Marcia Tunes.
Empassioned tales of love's warmth and consequence are
delivered through each of the tracks on the album. With
varied vocals and catchy beats, each song captures the
mood perfectly. "Soon Enough," the first track sets the
pace. With a Madonna-like vocal and strong beat, the
song reall brings out what Sally can do. "Love I
Feel" is more upbeat track. The vocals are more spoken
than sung, however, when the singing appears you just
want to hum to this catchy song. "Never Too Late" offers
more of an R&B best to it whilst bringing out the strong
emotion within the vocal part and beat of the song.
"Only Lonely People Can Play," a strong love-oriented
ballad, really shows the soulful music that can be produced
through the magnificient vocals of Sally Cooper just the
same as in "Make You Mine," a more upbeat ballad. "Turn
Around," is more in the alternative style, as is "Divinity."
"Answer In The Wind" seems to be a track of its own. While
soulful like "Only Lonely People Can Play," the crystalline
vocals and light piano instrumentation drive one to listen
to the words and focus on the meaning of the track. The
tender ballad "Love Me" is produced in a similar style.
"Hear What You Say" combines a light classical vocal part
with country rhythms to create an easy listening light rock
sound. "He Takes His Time" really delves deep into an
honest feeling of love that Sally felt when writing this
song. This soulful, beautiful track leads right into
a more upbeat song, "Tell Me Tenderly," a song of
wanting love. While "Skies Are Sometimes Blue" illustrates
the lighter version of love in a ballad style, "Like A Child"
presents an upbeat version of the strong emotion of love.
Further information, mp3 downloads and links are available at Sally's
can also order from a range of three EPs for $5.99 as well as the 14-track
Digital Audio Music CD reviewed above for only $10.00 there. A wonderful
introduction to a well established Southeast Asia-based artist, we found
her full length DAM CD delightful and certainly a very nice
listen!—Deborah J Elliot
Wappa Gappa: Yamatai
Image © 1996
Air From Mt Fuji
Image © 2000
(06 August 2000) Progressive rock band Wappa Gappa's debut album
Yamatai (Air From Mt Fuji (Japan) AIR-5001, 1996) is comprised
of eight vocally-laced progressive rock tracks. Formed originally
in 1992, the Japanese musicians have released two albums
to vast acclaim from the progressive music press. Reviews
in Big Bang (Fr), Exposé (US), Harmonie (Fr),
Progression (US), Metamusica (Br), Prog-résiste (Fr)
and at the
Dutch Progressive Rock Page (www) of their recordings
have all been very favourable.
Fronted by stunning mezzo soprano
Tamami Yamamoto, other band members include Keizo Endo (electric bass),
Yasuhiro Tachibana (guitars), Hideaki Nagaike (keyboards) and Hiroshi
Mineo (drums). Although almost all of the vocal work is in Japanese,
the band's sound is somewhat influenced by other Japanese progressive
bands as well as Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Yes. A strong similarity
in sound to Argentina's Nexus (review) and
Tamami's vocals to Nexus' vocalist Mariela González is evident from
Yamatai typifies Japanese progressive rock with lush
keyboard-based instrumental arrangements and soaring vocals, often
mixed right up where Musical Discoveries readers like them.
Tamami Yamamoto's voice is smooth and strong, soloing without the
need for backing vocals. Dynamic instrumentals are well played
with individual members' parts contributing to the band's overall
sound. Time signatures and melodies change frequently adding to
the interest and progressive texture of the album.
Opening with the 11+ minute epic "Yamataikoku" (Yamatai country),
individual Wappa Gappa band members take turn in demonstrating their
musical prowess. The guitar solos and quiet instrumental supported
vocal passages are especially notable. From Exposé, "Fans of
Annie Haslam style singing should get this for the voice of
Yamamoto alone." We couldn't agree more.
Styles vary with keyboard sounds as the eight tracks of the album
develop. Almost every one has a solo section where instrumental
excursions dominate creating a "stadium rock" atmosphere. Guitar
solos, crisp percussion and harmonious keyboards contrast Tamami's
lovely lead vocal. The album's quieter tracks feature the lead
vocalist and further illustrate the band's virtuosity without
letting the listener forget this is a progressive rock album.
These include the sensitively sung "Yuki-bana" (Snowflakes)
and highly atmospheric texture of "Angel's Song" (sung and spoken
in English and Japanese with extensive vocalise) both somewhat
reminscent of Quidam
(studio album review, live
Several tracks are most progressive in their construction and the
similarity to the Nexus sound is uncanny. "Gereki no Hakobune"
(An ark of rubble) and "Ngwachurei" (I miss you) [sung in Cantonese]
certainly fit this category with their driving guitar parts, rich
keyboard arrangements and powerful lead vocal. The evocative vocal
in "Ngwachurei" is especially notable. This is contrasted with a
jazz-oriented easy listening style, but not without Wappa Gappa's
typical instrumental bridge, in "Amanogawa" (Milky way).
The closing track "Toughenkyo" (Shangri-La) is most symphonic with
its dynamic melody and instrumental riffs driven equally by guitar
and keyboard. Tamami's powerful vocal, sung in a lower register
than most of the other tracks on the ablum, is more reminscent of
Lana Lane (review) in the beginning of
the track, but returns to her natural range as the track and album
come to a close. The debut album from Wappa Gappa has something for
every progressive rock listener; worth a cross-country journey
it is certainly a must listen!
Wappa Gappa: A Myth
Image © 1996
A Myth is the second album from Wappa Gappa
(Musea (France) FGBG4250.AR, 1998). The album contains eight
symphonically-oriented progressive rock tracks. Production
quality is improved substantially over the first album,
primarily in the vocal mix, and is evident from the opening
track "The Lion Hearted King" (Shishi-Oh). One will
immediately notice how the instrumentals are knocked down
when Tamami Yamamoto's vocal begins. Instrumental arrangements
are more delicately produced with imaging much improved over
the band's debut (reviewed above). The booklet accompanying
the compact disc contains stunning photographs of the band's
members and English translation of the songs' lyrics.
Wappa Gappa's passion for soaring excursions during
instrumental bridge featuring guitar and keyboard solos
and time signature changes continues into A Myth.
From Progression, "Female vocalist Tamami Yamamoto
has a sweet earnestness about her delivery that's quite
endearing. While everything is sung in Japanese, her
sense of conviction shines through." Vocal work is stunning
in all respects, however, the strong Asian influence in
"The Banquet" (Utage) does not seem to fit into the style
of the rest of the album.
While comparisons have been made to Quidam and Nexus
in the music press, this is no more evident than in the
orchestrally arranged ballad "No Mercy" (Mujou) which
grows with passion during the song's choruses. The
style is equally apparent in the soaring vocalise
of "Pilgrimmage of Water" (Mizu No Junrei), with
Tamami's incredibly clear lead vocal. This delicate
style is also present in the acoustic guitar-based
introduction to "The One and Only" (Yui Itsu) before
the heavy electronic instrumental arrangement begins.
Powerful soaring vocals seem to perfectly compliment
the arrangement. "The Underground" is an impressive
progressive rocker driven by thick guitar and somewhat
subdued vocals. Melody and time signature variations
add to the track's interest.
The epic 12+ minute title track is somewhat reminscent
of Renaissance, combining Annie Haslam-style vocals with
Yes-like instrumental arrangements. Very enjoyable as
a progressive instrumental with loads of variation within
its construction, the track features equally stunning
soaring crystalline vocals by Tamami Yamamoto. A Myth
concludes with the symphonic track "Floating Ice" (Rhuhyo).
An atmospheric and ballad-like vocal introduction ultimately
surrenders to a more dynamic progressive rock sound with
typical Wappa Gappa time signature changes and instrumental
You can order Wappa Gappa's A Myth from amazon.com
here. Their debut album appears to be available through
the band's own
Wappa Gappa appear to stand apart from their Japanese
contemporaries (eg, Providence and August); this is
most evident in their songwriting and the symphonic textures
produced in their arrangements. The group have also
emphasised Tamami Yamamoto's vocals in the tracks, and
this is especially apparent in their second ablum.
The album will clearly appeal to female vocal enthusiasts
and fans of progressive bands Quidam (Poland), Nexus
(Argentina), Sagrado (Brazil) and Vermillion Sands (Japan).
Certain to appeal to a broad range of
progressive rock enthusiasts, their second album joins
their first and—worth a cross country journey—is a must
Image © 2000
(31 July 2000) Larry King and John Blasucci have joined forces to become
Soleil Moon. Through Worlds Apart (MFO Records (USA) MFO-0818, 2000)
the band's first album blends singer Larry King's epic rock instincts with
Blasucci's sleek-flavored approach. "We are completely and utterly opposite,
but together we created this sophisticated form of contemporary music."
To contribute to their sound, Soleil Moon enlisted world-class musicians
Warren Hill (sax), Michael Thompson and Paul Jackson Jr (guitar), Ricky
Peterson (keys), Kenny Aronoff (drums), Lenny Castro (percussion) and the
London Symphony Orchestra. "These major players helped make the record
come alive," says Larry.
Worlds Apart begins with "Willingly," a soft ballad about love's
eternal devotion. "Never Say Goodbye" is an uptempo track about
taking care of the planet and, with a catchy tune and beat, you can do
nothing but sing along. "I Need You Close To Me," a soulful waltz contrasts
with "Ohio," a powerful meaningful song and "Warm Summer Rain" which recants
the sorrow and ultimate redemption of a father who sees in his young child
the joy of life he once knew in his late wife.
Reflective love songs, "Worlds Apart," "I'd Die For You" and the passionate
"You And Me" are easy listening with a strong sense of jazz, pop or both
elements in the song. "Calling On The World," however, offers more pop than
jazz while dealing with the issue of racism.
Soleil Moon shows their elegant neo style in "I Need You Close To Me"
a ballad of true feelings with a smooth jazz background. "Love Me Like
You Used To" was performed as a duet by Larry and John which really brings
together what Soleil Moon are about and what they're like as a pair. The
album closes with the orchestral piece "What Are You Dreaming" which will
touch your heart and soul.
With each song written or co-written by Larry and John, they have
really focused all of their style into Worlds Apart.
You can hear soundbites from the album and order it from amazon.com
here. A truly
unique jazz/pop style has been used by the group in a form never
achieved by any other artist. Worth a journey, the album is
a very nice listen!—Deborah J Elliot