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Images © Sparrow Records 2001
Images © Sparrow Records 2001
(09 October 2001) Michelle Tumes has returned with an
all new album entitled Dream (Sparrow Records (USA),
Fans of the golden-voiced Australian singer may be somewhat
suprised by the slightly different approach that Michelle
has taken with her third full-length release.
Many of the tracks on her first album Listen were
melodically, vocally, and instrumentally closer in sound
to the more ethereal stylings of Máire Brennan and Enya.
Michelle's second album, Center of My Universe,
saw the artist move in a more pop-friendly direction,
while maintaining a hint of otherworldliness.
On Dream Michelle has worked with new producers
Scott Erickson and Doug Beiden to create a uplifting
pop/dance set complete with D.J. scratches (provided
by Jesse Shacklock), vocoder emulation (a la Madonna),
and orchestra-synth strikes—think Britney Spears'
"Baby, One More Time." In addition, the multi-layered
harmonic vocal tracking that was so much a part of her
first two albums has largely been abandonned for a
more distinct and assertive single vocal melodic
Fortunately, Michelle Tumes' greatest strength has
always been her talent for writing exceptionally catchy
hooks; and the collection of songs on Dream once
again reflect that talent. Most of Dreams ten
tracks fall squarely within the cateogry of pure pop.
But, what separates this album from the ubiquitous
legion of radio-ready pre-fab cd's currently on the
charts is Michelle's skilled singing, personal lyrics,
and clever and enlivening arrangements. In truth, a
listen to Dream leaves one feeling a little
better about the world and everyone living therein.
The opening title track begins with a soothing
guitar intro overlayed with children's voices.
The serenity of these opening phrases, however, is
quickly altered by a break-beat drum track and
percolating bass-synth. Michelle's voicings are
particularly soulful and driving. The energetic
chorus ultimately makes for a vibrant song that
would be well-received on any dance floor. Other
tracks like "The Light," and "There Goes My Love"
maintain this encouraging, "get out of your seat
and dance" vibe.
"One and Only," one of the album's standout tracks,
features a hand-clapping gospel choir, tin whistle,
racing strings, and wah wah guitars—all to wonderful
effect. "Image of" presents a powerful and affirming
messageregarding the intrinsic worth of each human
being. To her credit, Michelle is able to deliver a
relevant spiritual message without sounding preachy
or overwrought—not to mention the fact that that
message is accompanied by a lovely melody.
The majestic and serene "God of My Hope" is really
the only song that recalls the mood of "Listen." Dense,
sweeping strings accentuate Michelle's delicate and
worshipful voice. Indeed, the highest compliment
among those many that might be paid to Michelle
Tumes is that she combines real musicianship with
sincerity. As a result, her music always manages
to be both emotionally and aurally compelling.
It is a pleasure to review Michelle Tumes' latest
Further information, photographs and
soundbites are available at the artist's
Order the album from amazon.com
here. Certainly worth a cross country journey,
Michelle Tumes' new album is a must listen!--Justin
Image © Toll Records 2001
Image © Toll Records 1998
More Rachel & Common Ground
Head 2 Head and Fabulous (2002)
(04 October 2001) The latest recording by Cornwall-based Rachel &
Common Ground is a six track EP entitled A Blonde Moment (Toll
Records (UK) 008, 2001). It follows on the heels of the band's
self-titled debut (Toll Records 007, 1999). With influences ranging
from folk through progressive celtic, the band is fronted by the
stunning crystalline vocal work of Rachel Heffer. Rachel also plays
harp and is supported by Chris Lobb (bass), Richard Penrose (keyboards),
Pip Harbon and Terry Wallwork. The band have performed at the
Classic Rock Society several times and are one of several supported
by the organisation destined for significant success.
In contrast to the band's debut, A Blonde Moment features
layers of backing harmony vocals and richer arrangements. Musical
Discoveries' readers will be impressed with the attention paid to
the vocals in the mix; clearly a female vocals album, Rachel's voice
is mixed way up. Material ranges from "Journey" a soft acoustic
ballad to the highly accessible opening track "Given Life." Instrumentals
perfactly compliment Rachel's soaring voice in the upbeat yet bluesy
"Megan O'Reilly." Similarly complimented by a lovely arrangement
and sensitive harp part, "Mice and Men" is a sweetly sung upbeat
light rock track.
As with "Given Life," the rocking "Step on Board" is lushly
arranged with electronic effects supporting Rachel's soaring lead
vocals. The acoustic guitar passages are as notable as the
stunning vocals; a small spoken word—almost rap—passage breaks
up the two main passages of the song. The EP concludes with the
Pan Celtic winning folk entry, "Ow Mos Tre" (acoustic
version). Lush arrangements back layers of Rachel's sweetly
sung Gaelic vocal passages. Certainly worth a long distance
journey, this latest EP from Rachel & Common Ground is a
The self-titled debut recording from Rachel & Common Ground is
comprised of four well arranged vocal numbers. "Common Ground"
is a lovely acoustic ballad dominated by Rachel's sweetly sung
lead vocal. A lovely harp part is part of the supporting
arrangement. The EP concludes with a Gaelic version of the
opening track entitled "Tir Kemmyn." Sandwiched between the
versions are "Spirit," a soft acoustic ballad featuring lovely
string parts, and "Take Me Home"—the original and more
simply arranged English version of the band's Pan Celtic
award winner "Ow Mos Tre." Dominated by Rachel's crystalline
vocals the band's self-titled debut is a must listen!
Image © Camille Miller 2001
More Camille Miller
Interview and Photos
(04 October 2001) The debut solo album from Canadian singer
Camille Miller is a twelve track recording entitled
She Knows (Socan (Canada) CMCD2, 2001). Musical
Discoveries' readers will recall Camille's contribution to the
track "Lost" on the Balligomingo EP
(review). Visit Camille's
website for a complete biographical sketch.
Camille provides lead vocals, guitars, percussion and keyboards to
the project and is supported by her partner Nick Hagar (guitars and
keyboards), Douglas Elliott (bass, loops, guitars, vocals, keyboards)
Tina Jones (backing vocals, trumpet and percussion, Craig Northly
(guitars) and Pat Steward (drums). Camille's vocal work can be most
closely compared to Maryanne Marino of November Project (now disbanded)
and Karin Bergquist of Over The Rhine
She Knows presents a broader perspective of Camille
Miller's work than the brief preview found on the Balligomingo
album. Material ranges from rock-n-roll ("I Always Will," "Dry,"
"Sugar Mountain," "Intensities") to ballads ("I Love You" and
"She Knows") and from the bluesy ("Great Expectations," "Mississippi")
to R&B textures ("Bird on a Rooftop," "Soul Feed," "Understand").
Camille's evocative vocals are equally delightful across the landscape.
We were most reminded of Maryanne Marino (November Project) in the
deeply contrasting textures of "I Love You" which varies from hearfelt
ballad to soft rocker and the lush harmonies of the highly accessible
"Naive." Camille's vocal work in the blues/R&B crossover "Understand"
is highly notable, perfectly complimented by supporting harmonies and
The album concludes with the stunning soft rock number "Intensities,"
where instrumental and vocal arrangements perfectly compliment each
other. Clearly worth a journey, especially for those that have
enjoyed the work of November Project, Over The Rhine and Balligomingo,
Camille's debut album She Knows is a very nice listen!
Image © EMI Music Canada 2001
Image © 2001 Billy Warhol
(04 October 2001) Colette Baron-Reid's second album is an ethereal
collection of eleven tracks entitled Magdalene's Garden (EMI
Music (Canada) 7 2435 27813 2 4, 2001). Richly produced by Eric
Rosse, the album clearly features Colette's evocative vocal parts
across a vast range of styles. She is supported by a broad range of
acoustic and electronic arrangements from an equally wide selection
of talented artists.
"Worlds collide on this record: western pop, mixed with hints of
trance, dance music, Celtic and middle eastern music, provide the
musical backdrop to songs that address love in its deepest forms.
Unconditional love, destiny and free will, forgiveness, the sacred
and the profane, sensuality and sexuality." Our readers will clearly
hear similarities to Aeone (review)
and Mae McKenna (review) when
listening to the album.
Vocals have been mixed way up across the album's tracks where
Musical Discoveries readers appreciate them. Layers of harmonies
support a sensuous and evocative lead vocal track. The album's
more ethereal tracks have new age textures supporting Colette's
vocals and include the stunning title track and "Fine Line." The
lovely soft rock track "Fine Line" is reminscent of Mae McKenna's
work on Nightfallers.
Listeners will delight in the way that different styles have been
combined within a track. Examples include the R&B and Indian blends
within "Look Around" and the hip-hop / ballad blend of "Wide Open
Spaces." A similar but even more upbeat blend is evident in
"Forgiven." The contrast between Colette's soaring Sarah Brightman-style
lead and the backing vocals is dramatic. The evocatively performed
heartfelt ballads "Breath Of You" and "Mercy" must be listened to
with headphones to appreciate the producers attention to detail in
Upbeat electronic arrangements add to the pop accessibility and
radio friendly sound of the Madonna-style "What You Believe." The
lovely contrast between the lead vocal line and the sweet harmony
backing vocals is quite remarkable. Lushly arranged, the ballad
"State of Grace" is dominated by Colette's strong, almost spoken
vocal with sung parts soaring well above the instrumentation.
The album concludes with Colette's hearfelt, stunning and vocally
intensive interpretation of Neil Young's "Old Man." Certainly
worth a cross-country journey, Colette's album Magdalene's
Garden is a must listen!
Image © Aerial Sounds 2001
(04 October 2001) The second album from Philadelphia-based singer
songwriter Mariel is a self-produced twelve track project entitled
Fragment of a Dream (Aerial Sounds (USA) 1004, 2001). Mariel
is one of the few independent artists who has done the almost
impossible. She entered the Top 40 Adult Contemporary Chart in the
radio trade, New Music Weekly July 2000 with her single, "In Between
Days" from her debut CD, The Darkest Angel.
Providing vocals, acoustic guitars, keyboards and programmeing herself,
Mariel has received much praise for her crystal clear, sweet, emotional
voice. Her lyrics have been called beautiful, introspective, and
fearless. She has been compared to classic female singers like Stevie
Nicks, Annie Lennox, and Deborah Harry. Mariel’s live performances are
said to be warm, endearing, and fun. On the latest album she is joined
by Chris Eike (bass), Patrick Van Belle (drums), Chris Mood (electric
guitars), Rob Federici (lead guitar on "All My Heart") and Lino
(classical guitar, bass and programming on "Love Fades Away").
Fragment of a Dream is comprised of well-produced, catchy,
ethereal pop songs. Her voice is well suited to the range of
guitar-laced styles included on the recording and is consistently
mixed well above the instrumental arrangements. Upbeat tracks
("Cruel Scorpio," "Say What You Mean" and "A Little Soul")
generally have a strong hook and feature notable guitar solos
in the bridges with Mariel's voice soaring as lead and harmony
vocal lines resume.
Mariel's sweet voice rings through in the album's softer
ballads ("Love Fades Away" and "Blind Faith")
soaring above the light primarily acoustic instrumental
arrangements. More thickly arranged, the soft electronically
accompanied ballads ("Do It Again," "All My Heart," "Wish,"
"Limits" and "Fragments Of A Dream") are evocatively sung with
stunning and lush vocal harmonies.
Accompanied by rocking electric guitar, Mariel's soaring crystalline
vocals—mixed way way up where Musical Discoveries' readers like
them—make "A Little Soul" one of the album's standout tracks. We
were reminded immediately of 10,000 Maniacs recordings featuring Mary
Ramsey in the catchy, slightly country and western-style tunes ("What
I Want" and "Lost My Love").
Mariel's second album Fragments of a Dream is a wonderful
followup to her debut The Darkest Angel
You can find further information, photos and soundbites at Mariel's
website and order the new album from
here. Worth a journey, the Mariel's album is a very nice listen.
Image © Mellow Traumatic Records 2000
Image © Mellow Traumatic Records 2000
(04 October 2001) With three compact discs to her credit, singer
songwriter Hannah Fury's first full length album is entitled The Thing
That Feels (MellowTraumatic Recordings (USA) MTR002 CD, 2000). Her
debut recording, Soul Poison (MTR001 CD, 1998) is a five-track EP;
most recently Hannah released a six-track limited edition EP entitled
Meathook (MTR003CD, 2001) featuring four all new tracks. Hannah
is based in Austin, Texas.
The tracks on Soul Poison are evocatively sung primarily over
simple piano arrangements. Although some have compared her work to Tori
Amos, Hannah's whispy style reminded us of immediately Xyra & Verborgen
(review) by her style. Wrenched with
emotion, the singer's talent is immediately evident.
"The Necklace of Marie Antoinette," "Idaho" and "The Last Piece of
Cake" are softly sung relatively dark ballads. Occasional vocal harmonies
add to the sonic texture. "Scars" is a lovely ballad with elements of
"Scarborough Fair" scattered within the lyrics and arrangements. "Eat
The Dirt" is more upbeat and lushly arranged with electronic keyboard
and piano joined by piano and other effects but not without dark elements
as well. The concluding track summarises the other four included within
Thirteen heartfelt vocally strong tracks grace Hannah's album
The Thing That Feels. Performed and recorded in a style similar
to her debut EP, lead and harmony vocals are primarily accompanied by
gentle piano arrangements. Listeners will immediately notice the
additional harmony layers that add to the album's acoustic texture.
The Thing That Feels is comprised primarily of dark ballads
and the listener must be positively disposed to the style or risk
being drawn unwillingly into the melancholy textures within it. A
stunning piano instrumental entitled "Of Longing And Otherness" is
also included on the album. Hannah's vocal work is full of emotion,
tender and sweet and perfectly suits the style of the material.
New tracks on the Meathook EP continue in the same vein as
Hannah's earlier work; the ballads are dark and sung over lovely piano
arrangements. Vocals have been mixed even further up, well over the
instrumental and individual parts are more clearly defined from one
another. Immediately evident in the production of "Angels & Absinth"
and "The Metro," Hannah's well-produced vocals jump right out of the
We found the artist's interpretations of Abba's "The Winner
Takes It All" quite enjoyable with multi-tracked vocal layers working
well over the light piano arrangement. Hannah also covers "True Love
Will Find You In The End" in with gentle vocals and light piano
accompanying. Certainly the Meathook EP will delight Hannah's
Hannah's album The Thing That Feels is a lovely followup to
her debut Soul Poison. We were provided with lyric sheets for
both recordings certainly available for new listeners from her record
label. You can find further information, photos and soundbites at Hannah's
website and order her album
here. Worth a journey, Hannah's recordings are a nice listen.
Image © Epiphany Records 2000
Image © Epiphany Records 2000
(05 October 2001) The latest release from Woodstock, NY-based Bet Williams
is a breezy eleven track collection entitled Rose Tatoo (Epiphany
Records (USA) 0002 2, 2000). The artist's prior recordings include
Elephants and Angels (1990)
here) and Building A Bed (1992)
here). Musical Discoveries' visitors will recall Bet's collaboration on the
Epiphany Project album (review).
After developing a cult following at Penn State University in the late 1980's,
Bet packed up her poetry degree and a handful of songs to take them on the road.
From House of Blues in Los Angeles, to the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville to the
Bottom Line in New York City, Bet has shared the stage with a variety of artists
including Arlo Guthrie, Joan Osborne, Baba Olatunji and John Gorka.
On Rose Tatoo, Bet provides the vocal talent and acoustic guitar.
She is joined by Phil Parlaipano (electric guitar, organ, mellotron), Mark
Harris (bass), Steve Theards (drums, loop), Scott Babcock (percussion), Bruce
Watson (electric guitar) and Robin Moxey (electric guitar) amongst others.
Coco Beaujolais provides backing vocals on some of the tracks.
Bet is known to be a passionate and dynamic performer with powerful voice
can be earthy one moment and angelic the next. Songs like the bluesy "Killed
My Man" and "Blow A Little Smoke" show Bet's humor and strong, soulful style
while the highly infectious "OOh La La" and "Welcome To My World" demonstrate
her ability to craft powerful rock and roll hooks.
Lightly arranged acoustic ballads like "Rose Tattoo," "California"
and "Thunder and Stone" reveal a more sensitive side. The contrasts
within "Just Like You" between ballad and gentle rocker certainly make
it one of the album's standout tracks. We especially enjoyed the Americana
style of "Walk Down The Road" and bluesy "Killed My Man" and "Water
Under The Bridge" not only in contrast to the other tracks on the album but
for the stunning vocal work within them. "Mary," a song about a woman
panhandling, show Bet's compassion and gift for storytelling.
Musical Discoveries' readers will appreciate the tremendous production quality
of the album and the fact that vocals are mixed way up, well over the instrumentals.
However the instrumental arrangements are an equally strong element of the album,
sometimes overlooked in a female vocalist's work. This is an album to be savored
and played over and over. As Guitar One magazine put it "She's blessed
with all the right stuff; a fantastic voice, a talent for songwriting, good
musicianship and a charasmatic stage presence."
Rose Tatoo is certainly an album to delight female vocal enthusiasts,
especially those that track Tori Amos and Sheryl Crow to whom Bet has been
favourably compared. Find out more about the artist at her
website and read further reviews,
listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com
here. Certainly worth a cross-country journey, Rose Tatoo is a
Image © Arista Records 2001
Image © Arista Records 2001
(05 October 2001) The debut album from 19-year old American singer
songwriter Lennon Murphy, comprised of twelve primarily metal-edged rock
tracks, is entitled 5:30 Saturday Morning (Arista (USA)
07822014669-2, 2001). Lennon clearly has it all—songwriting dexterity,
gorgeous voice, looks, and body as well as a polished on-stage persona—as
the videos at her website
clearly illustrate. Rolling Stone wrote, "Lennon Murphy is
every hard-rock-loving dude's wet dream—a voluptuous teenage vixen
with a penchant for bawdy lyrics and dark metal riffs."
Ever since Lennon played her first gig—a three hour show at a dingy
club in Hendersonville, Tennessee, when she was only fifteen—she's
understood how to raise eyebrows. "I like to say very sexual things
just for shock value," she explains. "When I was younger, it was fun
to hear whispers around the room like, 'She's fifteen!'."
Until recently Lennon's primary audience—not to mention mentor,
collaborator and inspiration—was her mother Kathleen Murphy, an
aspiring songwriter. Floored by her daughter's talent, Kathleen
assumed a management role, culling players from the Nashville scene,
booking gigs and negotiationg with the various record companies,
vying for the young artist. Meanwhile Lennon's life was,
"School—basically all honours classes—and between homework and
tests, I wrote songs and did shows."
Just after she turned 18, Lennon returned home from school to
find her mother dead, apparently from an allergic reaction. She
became responsible for her eight-year old sister, Mariella, and
secured a record deal with Arista that helped her prevail over a
fierce custody battle with an aunt who had suddenly yang to step
into their lives.
An accomplished singer and piano player, having studied guitar
and saxophone as well, Lennon sings and plays piano on her debut
album. She is joined by Scotty Smith, Eli McFadden and Spider
(guitars), Kenny Aronoff (drums), Jerry Flowers and Scott Borland
(bass). Production credits are split across Jeffrey Pringle,
Scotty Smith and others. Signed to Arista, the production quality
on Lennon's debut album is simply tremendous. Enthusiasts of Lacuna
Coil's Cristina Scabbia
(review) are certain to
Lennon's debut album.
Tracks on 5:30 Saturday Morning range from typically heavy
metal, including occasional 'grunting' ("Property of Goatf***er")
to anthemic rockers to gentler and more subtle ballads.
Anthems like "Morning" and "I Hear" with their relentless rhythm and
lead guitars to love-is-hell pieces such as bleak and trechorous "Brake
of Your Car" and "These Days," a storm of menacing guitars, lush
keyboards and monstrous background growls, it is obvious that
Lennon is into the hard stuff. Yet she also uncannily merges
the heavy with the heavenly on "Couldn't Breathe" and weilds
whispers on the Fula-like (review)
hammering "Trying To Make Me."
"My Beautiful" is especially reminscent of Lacuna Coil with
Lennon's gorgeous voice in stark contrast to raunchy moderate
tempo electric guitar lines while the ballad "Asking You" is one
of the most gentle tunes on the album highlighting the artist's
more tender side. Although harder than the Alanis Morissette
song with a similar lyric, "Thank You," is a cross between ballad
and anthem, sung over richly arranged guitar and percussion.
The blend of traditional rock, heavy metal and ballad works
extremely well in "Couldn't Breathe." Accompanied only by piano,
the title track that brings the project to a conclusion is the
gentlest and most sweetly sung of the album.
Clearly one of the best albums by an emerging artist we've
heard this year, Lennon's 5:30 Saturday Morning is one
that will delight Musical Discoveries' readers. Additional
biographical information, photos, music samples and
video segments are both available at the artist's
Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order Lennon's
album at amazon.com
here. Clearly an album worth a cross country or perhaps even a trans-Atlantic journey, this one is a must listen!
Image © Shannon Weir 2001
(05 October 2001) The seven-track debut album from Canadian
singer songwriter Shannon Weir is entitled Nature About You
(Socan (Canada) SHAN 002, 2001). The album is dominated by
Shannon's voice; she also provides piano and organ and is joined
by producer Ian McNally (guitar, mellotron, leslie organ),
Andrea Bettger (violin), Alex McMaster (cello), Paul Passmore
(bass) and Randy Cooke (drums). The album will almost certainly
appeal to fans of Jennifer Nobel from Grey Eye Glances
(review. Unlike most singer
songwriter albums of the day, there is no multi-tracking; the
listener is treated to Shannon's lead vocal exclusively.
Shannon's voice is sweet and crystalline; songs are sensually
sung over light arrangements with vocals mixed way up. Gently
rocking tunes compliment the ballads that form the majority of
the album. "Beach" is a lovely ballad with an arrangement that
builds as the song progresses featuring strings and electric
guitar underscoring Shannon's soaring vocals. The softly rocking
"Catch Me" is one of the most Grey Eye Glances-style tracks on
the album with a catchy chorus.
"Imagine That" is a darker ballad with organ and light percussion
providing a backdrop for the sensitively sung vocal line. Violin and
cello are the main accompaniment for a lovely ballad "Lunar Eclipse"
which effectively blends dark with bright spots to acoustically
illustrate the song's lyrics; vocals are bright throughout, soaring
above the arrangement. The soft rock tunes "Shannon Falls" and "Day
and Age" are the album's standout tracks; guitar and piano provide a
lovely texture for Shannon's sensitively sung vocals.
The album concludes with "Stop," a lovely pop-oriented piece of
electronica full of lush keyboards sharply contrasting the other
tunes on the album and demonstrating the artist's range. Certainly
worth a journey, Nature About You is a wonderful introduction
to Shannon Weir and a very nice listen!
Image © GFT-Cyclops 2001
(12 October 2001) The latest album from Richard
Wileman, Ileesha Bailey and others performing as
Karda Estra is a magnificient seven track epic
entitled Even (Cyclops (UK) CYCL 104, 2001).
A complete work, similar in some respects to their
earlier works Thirteen From The Twenty First
and A Winter In Summertime
project is very soundtrack-oriented; vocals drift in
and out introducing or echoing melodies. We remained
impressed with the songwriting and vocal skills of
these talented artists.
Writes composer, Richard Wileman, "Eve is
inspired by the short novel The Future Eve,
written in 1886 by Villiers de L'Isle Adam. It tells
the story of the 'world-famed inventor and master
electrician Professor X', who creates a 'perfect'
mate for his disturbed friend Lord Ewald. The story
is full of fantastical descriptions and images -
the android ('Andraiad'), the not yet fully formed
human potential or spectre that would become her
soul and the quasi-scientific apparatus of Professor
He continues, "The Future Eve also fondly brought
back to mind films like Bride Of Frankenstein and
Frankenstein Created Woman which also played a large
part in helping me set the scene. I find these kind of
'morality' plays just as relevant and chilling today
with the ever-increasing developments in genetic
engineering and artificial intelligence. Also, when
the creation is female, an added dimension of cruel
Pygmalion-like manipulation appears."
Richard Wileman and Ileesha Bailey are joined by Helen
Dearnley (violin), Caron Hansford (oboe, cor anglais),
Zoe King (flute, alto saxophone, clarinet) and Rachel
Larken (viola, violin). Recorded at the Twenty First
and well produced like the earlier Karda Estra albums,
the project is highly orchestral, extremely moody and
has the soundtrack quality required to capture the
composer's desired theme.
A continued departure from Richard Wileman's earlier
vocally-oriented progressive rock work with Lives and
Times, the music is as relaxing as it is insightful.
Ileesha's vocals are sweet and melodic—we only wish she
had an opportunity to contribute further. Instrumentally
complex and of epic proportions the album is clearly
worth a journey, a very nice listen!
Image © EMI Music 2001
(12 October 2001) The latest album from viruouso
Vanessa Mae is entitled Subject To Change
(EMI Music (UK), 2001). A two-track single of Mae's
unique rendition of "White Bird" with the album and an
alternative mix has been released. Twelve tracks adorn
the compact disc and unlike the artist's earlier pop
and classical releases, this one is full of vocal elements;
and they work very well. Both lead and choral sections are
highly inspired, well produced and polished to an absolute
shine.Vanessa Mae sings in three different languages; her soft
whispy voice just adds to the ambience of the music on the
stunning "White Bird" as well as on "Love is Only A Game" and
"Jamais." World sounds once again enter the mix but the
production is highly accessible and will certainly have
even broader appeal than the artist's former projects.
The album grows on the listener with repeated listens.
Reviewer Georgina Collins writes, "Vanessa Mae has always
described her music as techno-acoustic fusion but Subject to
Change explores further than ever before into the techno (or
rather not acoustic) aspects of her work. The album finds her
teaming up with Killing Joke bass player turned prolific dance
producer Youth, her virtuoso playing takes very much a back seat
to his sweeping synthesisers and imposing drum machines."
She continues, "... there are plenty of tracks which highlight
her skill and the violin-led melodies are as beautiful as they
are intricate as on the flamenco tune, "Laughing Buddha". The
opening piece "Yantra" is not indicative of the rest of the
album. It has a poppy-trance intro which could be mistaken for
ATB that would have been quite exciting once upon a time but now
sounds a little dated. The production is very slick and has a
feel that Mae is getting closer to the sound she is looking
for but with patches of tired ideas subduing the innovative
moments, Subject to Change has a way to go yet."
The latest album from Vanessa Mae is one to be explored at
length and savored by the educated listener. The artist is
certainly finding her stride.
Read further information at
her website; order
the album, listen to soundbites and read further reviews at
here. This digest concludes with an album worth a cross
country or even trans-Atlantic journey; it is a must
Image © Centropolis / Hollywood Records 2000
(01 January 2002) Contributed by Suvi
Kaikkonen: Gabriel Yared has proven his talent for
capturing the beauty of sadness on a
recording. His composition for Autumn
In New York (Centropolis / Hollywood Records
(USA) HR62280-2, 2000) established Yared as a
master of producing musical accompaniment
for emotional heavy and bittersweet stories.
Unlike The English Patient and
The Talented Mr. Ripley, however,
the music for Autumn In New York
has an identifyable and consistent thematic
heart. The score, while maneuvering to
accommodate the film's tragic nature,
succeeds in illuminating the spark of life
created by the romance between the characters
Charlotte and Will. With a jumpy step of
jazz reminicent of Bernstein scores of the
past, Yared portrays a glimpse of spring
in its opposite season.
The title theme is upbeat and contemporary,
with the urban setting accentuated by the
performances of a sax and piano throughout.
So seldom is a sax used in scores these days that it's refreshing to catch a few performances by one here. The opening titles and character theme which starts the score section of the album use jazz to assis New York City in becoming a three dimensional character all in its own.
Yared employs two key elements that keep the music interesting and listenable on album. First, while an orchestra with decent strings provides needed depth, solo performances by woodwind instruments add a touch of flavour. IN their wandering paths, a true sense of the autumn season is conveyed. On top of the sax, a clarinet and oboe shine in this role. Secondly, Yared enlists the voice of a quickly growing star to perform the elegy theme for the Charlotte character. You will likely recognise the voice of Miriam Stockley from either scores such as Great Expectations or The 10th Kingdom, or the Adiemus album that was featured prominently during Delta Air Lines adverts a few years back.
Her voice, as usual, is haunting in its clarity, and surpasses Yared's use of Sinead O'Connor for "Lullaby for Cain" in The Talented Mr. Ripley. Stockley performs two lyrical passages of about six minutes in total, with a few wordless vocals thrown in near the end of the album. Once again, an album with a Stockley performance can do little wrong.
The album itself is well constructed. An hour in length, it features two songs from the film and two additional songs. The song "Turn This World Around" by Amy Grant, is absent from the album, but featured on the film. Yared's score, however, is extremely listenable in and of itself. Even though it is comprised of over 20 short cues of score, the album's flow is surprisingly easy and quiet. At any rate Gabriel Yared, although a veteran of 25 years in the scoring industry, is continuing to impress audiences with his recent scores for top rate American films.
Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order
the album from amazon.com
here. With Miriam Stockley on vocals, this album is worth further exploration and certainly a very nice listen!