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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.

October Project
Without Face
Seconds Out
Paige 23
Twila Paris
Sam Holmes

Digest Index
More Digest Entries
Previous Digest Entries
Instrumental Digest
Different Eyes CD Cover
Image © op(iii). October Project 2003

October Project
Julie Flanders, Emil Adler, Marina Belica
Photo © Steven Lowy 2003

More October Project
Unplugged with Karnataka
Marina Belica One Sky
Marina Belica decembergirl
Marina Belica decembergirl Interview

(05 April 2003) October Project is back, with a new six-song CD entitled Different Eyes. Re/Formed around the angelic voice of Marina Belica, and the songs of Julie Flanders and Emil Adler the group returns itself to its three original members, who have been friends and collaborators since college.

Signed to Epic Records in 1993, the group has enjoyed international acclaim and has sold close to a half million copies of their two albums (October Project and Falling Further In). The albums made the top five (along with Creed, Jars of Clay and U-2) in a list of "Music With A Message" in Borders Bookstores' magazine.

October Project has headlined sold-out shows across the United States and toured with such platinum-selling acts as The Crash Test Dummies and Sarah McLachlan. The band performed live on TV's Latenight with Conan O'Brien as well as on numerous nationally syndicated radio shows, and was featured in the Emmy Award-nominated PBS Special Just Passing Through with Shawn Colvin and Julia Fordham. October Project's music appears in the feature film Blown Away starring Tommy Lee Jones and Jeff Bridges, and has appeared on such TV shows as The Real World, Extra! The Rosie O'Donnell Show, Baywatch and One Life To Live.

October Project established its roots in a New Jersey garage but its early seeds germinated on the campus of Yale University where Belica and Flanders were roommates for four years. The three were joined in 1990 by guitarist David Sabatino, percussionist Urbano Sanchez and singer Mary Fahl.

Although the original group took a break for personal reasons in 1996, Flanders, Belica and Adler continued to make music together. In 2000, they gathered in the studio with Sabatino and percussionist Sanchez to "cover" October Project's second single, "Return To Me," for Belica's debut solo recording decembergirl. The response to the track was phenomenal. It went to #1 on alternative station WBER in Rochester, New York and aired for several months on 99X, one of the most popular commercial radio stations in Atlanta. Prompting a mention in Billboard magazine, the track was also featured in the climactic scene of the indie movie The Adulterer featuring several Flanders and Adler songs, and was used as the closing credit music in The Spirit of St. Paul's, a documentary about the World Trade Center disaster and its aftermath.

Different Eyes. The EP includes five new recordings plus "If I Turn Away" previously released on the band's limited edition "Three" EP. The songs were all written by Julie Flanders and Emil Adler earlier in the band's career. A tender and melodic ballad entitled "The Mind's Eye" (1995) is the opening recording. Marina's lead is supported by Julie's backing vocals and lush instrumentals comprised of keyboard and light percussion. Listeners will be enthralled to hear October Project's return.

Lovely string-styled arrangements support Marina's lovely lead vocal in the sensitively sung ballad "Long After Tomorrow" (1992). Light strings and woodwind sounds provide the instrumental backing for Marina's soaring lead in "See With Different Eyes" (1995), a gently rocking tune. Her crystalline voice is perfectly echoed by flute.

"If I Turn Away" (1989) is the most lushly arranged tune with thick keyboard arrangements filling the gaps between the lyrical passages. Clearly one of the standout tracks on this EP is "Forget You" (1991), a rich and somewhat Latin-styled piece with ultra-crisp percussion perfectly punctuating the melody and multi-layered vocal harmonies. The EP concludes with "When The Wind Blows" (1984), an evocatively sung ballad with lush arrangements featuring guitar, percussion and light keyboard textures. Vocal harmonies are classic October Project and everso enticing.

Having completed this six-song EP, October Project will immediately begin work on a full-length recording. They plan to include Sabatino and Sanchez in the upcoming recording and in select concerts. Different Eyes is available from October Project's website. Be sure to return soon to read our interview with Marina, Julie and Emil.

Only Time The Collection Box Set Cover [half-size]
Image © Reprise Records 2002

More Enya:
A Day Without Rain
Lord Of The Rings Original Soundtrack

(13 March 2002) A wonderful gift, this handsomely packaged four-CD box set (purple velvet cover, gold-foil lettering) also serves as an inviting mid-career retrospective of an uncommon vocalist-sonic architect. Only Time: The Collection (Reprise (USA) 2-49211, 2002) is a mix-and-match assortment of tracks spanning Enya's first five U.S. releases (including her 1987 debut, The Celts) and embellished with a half-dozen B-sides not found on her previous U.S.-released albums. Chief among them are "May It Be" from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack (review); "Isobella," a hushed, slowly evolving beauty formerly available only in Japan; and "Oiche Chiun (Silent Night)."

The set's fourth disc is an enhanced CD that includes 1996 video footage of Enya performing "Oiche Chiun" during a BBC special. Also included is a 44-page, tall-format booklet filled with regal artist photos, song lyrics, and commentary on each track written by lyricist Roma Ryan. Some notations are throwaway items. Others are insightful, such as the unfinished lyrics (about lost love) for the instrumental title track to A Day Without Rain. The order is a jumble, usually mixing tracks from two recordings onto one disc. The stylistic difference between her dated 1987 debut and the sophistication of 1988"s Watermark makes for some occasionally jarring listening on disc one. On the other hand, the opening sequence on disc three ("After Ventus," "No Holly for Miss Quinn," "The Memory of Trees") is mesmerizing.

This collection is the first career spanning collection of Enya's work, gracing four CDs with 51 tracks. Featuring signature Enya favorites such as "Orinoco Flow," "Only Time," "Caribbean Blue," "The Celts," "Book Of Days," "The Memory Of Trees" and much more. Also includes tracks not previously available on any domestic release such as "Isobella," "Book Of Days" (Original Single Version) and "May It Be" (Single Version). 48 page booklet features liner notes by lyricist Roma Ryan, a discography and archival photos. The fourth disc is enhanced with the previously unreleased performance of "Silent Night". --amazon.com

Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order Only Time The Collection from amazon.com here. Clearly an enhancement to any dedicated fan's or newcomer's collection, this album is most certainly worth a journey and is a must listen!.  

Astronomicon CD Cover
Image © Earache Records 2002

Photo by John MacMurtrie
Image © Earache Records 2002

Interview with Julie

(05 April 2003) The debut album from Hungary's melodic metal band Without Face entitled Astronomicon (Earache Records (USA/UK) MOSH 901CD, 2002) is omprised of six epic-length tracks. The new album comes on the heels of their highly successful debut and remastered versions of Deep Inside. The initial North American release of also includes a bonus disc. Like Italy's Lacuna Coil (review), the band's material includes sharply contrasting male and female vocals.

Without Face is fronted by their stunning female vocalist Juliette Kiss. Visit their website to view further information and see photographs of the artists. THe band's vocal work is shared by András. Instrumental contributions come from band members Péter (drums), Sasza (keyboards) and Ákos (bass). The music is lush and melodic blending light and heavy guitar riffs with synthesizer, piano and other keyboard textures. Male vocals are primarily sung but the typical metal grunt sounds also appear in spots.

Keyboard excursions compliment the guitar arrangements in the album's dramatic and dynamic opening track "Weird Places." We especially enjoyed the way that Juliette's vocals soared over and András' heavier vocals through the sung portions of the epic. Juliette's whispers added lovely texture during the bridge. The pace of the album continues to build in "Pit and Pendulum" with rapidfire guitar riffs dominating the bridge. Significant tempo changes within the piece showcase the depth and reach of both Juliette's and András' vocal ranges.

The album's third track "... In The Garden" builds upon the foundation established in the first two numbers. Dominated by initially by András' vocals, Julie contibutes contrasting textures that work against the atmospheric gothic oriented rich keyboard- and guitar-based arrangements. We especially enjoyed the flute [perhaps played on keyboard] and fast-paced keyboard solo during the bridge. A sharply contrasting piece, "The Violin of Erich Zann," follows. Lush progressive style keyboards meet heavier guitar with the two vocalists working harmoniously together.

The heavier male vocal and richer guitar sounds within "Talamasca" are compensated by keyboard, piano and Juliette's softer vocal contributions. Her vocals are clearly the highpoint of the band's performance and, based on the photos at their website, her contributions are equally enticing in their live performances. While much of the vocal work is shared, she clearly takes the lead in the short "Daimonion," a progressively textured masterpiece with the tenderist of layered vocal work backed by piano; the closing piece, it is an absolute standout of the album.

Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. The quality of the recorded material compensates for the short (45 minute) running time of the album. Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, this second album from Without Face is a must listen!

Crucify My Heart CD Cover
Image © Spinefarm Records 2003
and Century Media Records 2003

Image © Toni Härkönen 2003
and Spinefarm Records 2003

Exclusive Interview

(05 April 2003) The latest offering from Finland's atmospheric metal group Lullacry entitled Crucify My Heart (Century Media Records (USA) 8191-2, 2003) is a glorious eleven track collection of accessible soon to be fan favourites. Visitors will find their music equally powerful and rich as other metal-oriented groups reviewed at Musical Discoveries but defy comparison. Learn more about the band at their website.

After their Sweet Desire debut in 1999, the Helsinki quintet garnered well-deserved worldwide attention with their sophomore album Be My God, released in 2001. In the spring of 2002, Lullacry saw the departure of their then-vocalist Tanya due to musical differences, an event that many saw as a threat to the future of the band. However, the group seized the opportunity and quickly forged ahead, and after numerous female hopefuls auditioned, they secured a perfect replacement. The new siren came by the name of Tanja, ironically sharing the same name as her predecessor, albeit with a slightly different spelling. Tanja showed fire and passion in her vocal approach, traits that will most assuredly take Lullacry to the next level in their career. Read our exclusive interview with Tanja.

Lullacry's material is certainly metal-edged--powerful guitars carry the arrangements but never overly dominate Tanja's soaring vocal work. Unlike Within Temptation (review), Nightwish (review) or After Forever (review), whose music shares heavy metal with operatic vocals, Lullacry's material is more pop-oriented in Tanja's equally professional approach to the task. The music is at times atmospheric and melodic and it balances rock tunes with the more tender metal-influenced ballads. The tracks have hooking choruses and after repeated plays listeners are certain to be heard singing along.

In addition to the stunning title track, further standouts include the dramatic rocker "Every Single Day, the gentler "Unchain" and the accessible "Nothing To Lose." The anthemic textures of "Over Me" and "Better Days" demonstrate the band's tremendous power. While listeners will hear solo vocal work in some of the tracks, the often multi-layered arrangements work well with the band's heavier guitar work. Keyboards add texture to the studio work but are absent in the band's live performances.

Lullacry's third album, Crucify My Heart, easily demonstrates that they are indeed up to the task of not only outdoing the musical quality of their earlier releases, but also opening new doors towards a more crossover and alternative audience. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order Lullacry's Crucify My Heart album at amazon.com here. Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, Crucify My Heart is a must listen!

Opposition CD Cover
Image © Criteria Records 2003

>> Concert Review and Interview <<

Emma Pook
Emma Pook (lead vocals)
Image © Criteria Records 2003

Image © Criteria Records 2003

(06 April 2003) Formed in February 2002, Confuzion is made up of five outstanding musicians performing high quality rock-based music with a unique sound. Using a range of moods, textures and grooves, the band has an eight track debut album entitled Opposition (Criteria Records (UK) CRICD001, 2003). An accompanying single "Reasons" b/w "Dreamland (Edited Remix)" (Criteria Records (UK) CRICD002, 2003) has also been released.

The band is fronted by twenty-one year old Emma Pook, the youth and outstanding voice of Confuzion. Well trained professionally, she fronted several local Reading bands before joining Confuzion. Complimented for her vocal versatility, high energy and live performances, she's a natural extrovert and highly confident. Clearly Tracy Hitchings (feature) and Jasmine Rodgers (Boa-concert review) fans will be enthralled with her work. The band is also comprised of Pat Kohlhammer (guitar), Nick Wilson (keyboards), Dave Woodage (bass) and Nick Mylum (drums). Further information on--and photos of-the band members can be viewed at their website.

Confuzion's material is as diverse as their membership. Instrumental solos appear in almost every track. Listeners clearly won't be set in one direction with the album's opening rocker "Turn Out The Sun." Heavy guitar riffs, 70s-style keys and crisp percussion present an in-concert style arrangement as Emma's powerful Jasmine Rodgers-like (Boa)vocals take hold of the melody. High energy instrumental solos during the bridge demonstrate the band members' virtuousity. But the mood quickly changes in the ballad opening of "Too Much Too Soon." A highly accessible hooking rock tune emerges with layered vocal harmonies and high energy guitar solos fill the bridge.

In addition to traditional rock, the band can also deliver progressive stylings. The stunning "18124" is clearly the album's standout. Shimmering guitar, lush keyboard and rhythm section are perfectly arranged providing the perfect foundation for Emma's soaring vocal melody. We especially enjoyed the solo work during the bridge. The band's debut single "Reasons" is a rock-edged ballad. Emma is backed by piano in the verse and the whole band in the chorus--multi-layered harmonies are well arranged to showcase Emmas voice.

"Dreamland" is the band's most progressive-edged piece. Lush hammond organ and extensive instrumental work underscore the power of Emma's soaring Tracy Hitchings-style vocals across vast tempo and mood changes. The hammond organ and guitar solos within the piece are well refined. The shorter remix included on the "Reasons" single is tighter than the album version. The funky "Corporate Whore" continues to demonstrate the band's virtuousity both in its styling and Emma's vocal work--with lots of attitude, this must be a great track to see and hear the band do on stage.

Hammond organ and rhythmic guitars provide a lush foundation for the "American Psycho" multi-tempo rocker. We especially liked the way Emma's vocals were mixed way above the instrumentals. The track's on-stage live sound includes ultra-crisp percussion demonstrating Nick's virtuousity. This live sound is even more prominent in "End Of The Day" which concludes the album, however, the mix is entirely different with guitar, keyboard and rhythm section taking over with Emma's vocal work almost taking back seat. With its tremendous solos, the number must be a spectacle to hear performed on stage.

Confuzion has recently rewritten a few of their songs with new, poingnant lyrics reflecting the mood of the music, ranging from technical rock to film soundtracks and dance. We understand that their live performances capture the very essence of the music with lighting, audio effects and a forthcoming multimedia backdrop to give a full show that incisively stimulates the senses.

Visit Confuzion's website for further information on the general availability of the Opposition album. We will advise visitors when it is available from other online outlets. While the band has a few rough edges that will smooth out over time, this album should be explored further--it's a very nice listen!

Sacred Circles CD Cover
Image © New World Music 2003

More Llewellyn and Juliana
Woman Wisdom


(30 March 2003) The new release by Llewellyn entitled Sacred Circles (New World Music (UK) NWCD 534, 2003) is a nine track ensemble of cinematic soundscapes again featuring Juliana's lovely vocals. Our interview with Llewellyn provides extensive insight into the album's themes and development. The album includes Chris Conway on Irish whistles and guitars and Tori Donovan on low whistle and recorders.

The opening track, "Stardancing (into the Light)," is an upbeat track with excellent vocal work sung by the two artists. Whistles, recorders and piano with warm keyboard washes take over in "Sacred Space," and characteristic of Llewellyn's new age style album include layers of Juliana's vocalise for texture and harmony. Read about the artists' work together further in the interview.

Juliana's layered vocals play a larger role in the three parts of "Celtic Triple Goddess," and work well along acoustic percussion, harp, whistles and piano. Despite numerous tempo and mood changes, the parts of the 13+ minute suite blend together seamlessly. Texture, percussion and the vocal layering are--as typical of these artists' work--all superb.

"The Ritual" is a dramatic and moody new age track with lush keyboard washes. Dark in parts and bright--from lovely acoustic guitar riffs and varous woodwind sounds--in others, the complex and cinematic melody is certain to draw the listener in. "Casting the Circle" is an upbeat and atmospheric instrumental epic incorporating a variety of world instruments, lush keyboards and whistle melodies that cruise atop crisp percussion. Juliana's lovely vocals conclude the track.

Instrumental and vocal layers join lovely whistle solos in "Release," with keyboard sequencing and water sounds contributing additional atmosphere. The album concludes with the lushly produced track "Silver Wheel," a lyrically oriented track that serves as the second bookend, perfectly complimenting "Stardancing." While the vocalise and instrumental material between them is lovely, the opening and closing tracks will be viewed by many as the most accessible of the album.

While Sacred Circle is a heavily-themed album, it has all of the modern Celtic musical elements we now expect from Llewellyn and Juliana. The team's website is available by clicking on the album cover. There you'll find photos, soundbites, further information and video segments. The album is generally available. We will provide an amazon.com link to it as soon as the listing is created. Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, the newest album from Llewellyn and Juliana is a must listen!

Some Kind Of Strange CD Cover
Image © Noiseplus Music 2003

Chasing The Ghost CD Cover
Image © Noiseplus Music 2000

(05 April 2003) The latest offering from California's Collide is an eleven track album entitled Some Kind Of Strange (Noiseplus Music (USA) Noise 002, 2003). Fronted by their stunning female vocalist kaRIN, her collaborator Statik is responsible for the instrumental arrangements. A bevy of guest artists contribute percussion, acoustic and electric guitar on various tracks. The band's website is loaded with further information, soundbites, photos and additional features.

Some will recall that kaRIN provided some of the original vocal work for the early Balligomingo demos but she did not contribute to the finished Beneath The Surface (review) project. Collide's previous album Chasing The Ghost drew significant critical acclaim. Suffice it to say that Some Kind Of Strange has taken a significant step forward both in vocal work and arrangements. Make no mistake--this is a female vocals album clearly cast between gothic and electronica; it is certain to appeal to Balligomingo and Delerium enthusiasts!

Some Kind Of Strange blends gothic textures with electronica and powerful percussion right from the start in "Crushed." Layers kaRIN's sultry vocals are mixed well above the arrangements. "Euphoria" is a more accessible tune--lush keyboards and guitars compliment sweetly soaring heavenly style vocals while powerful instrumentals and sensual vocal textures dominate "Modify." The album builds to "Somewhere" a richly arranged Balligomingo-style tune with several tempo and mood swings that is dominated by kaRIN's soaring and evocative vocals.

Equally interesting is "Slither Thing," a slow and richly arranged number crossing boundaries between a slow dance- and jazz-style number. The tempo drops further with "Inside" an electronic ballad; layers of kaRIN's sensually shimmering vocals are mixed to new heights with instrumental arrangements being pushed right to the back. The electric guitar parts and backing harmonies are as notable. "Mutation" is a heavy track outside the acoustic guitar-based chorus. The sharp contrastbetween the various passages--ending in rain--is simply incredible.

The album's standout track is clearly "Tempted." kaRIN's evocative opening leads into a lush symphonic-styled tune and remarkable guitar-backed chorus with tremendously accessible multi-layered vocal harmonies. Balligomingo enthusiasts will agree this track has single potential! "Shimmer" continues in a similar vein albeit at a slower-- electronic ballad--tempo. The band's gothic orientation emerges in "Complicated," a complex and thickly arranged upbeat number with plenty of vocal layering as well. Slow and raunchily electronic in arrangement, the multi-layered vocal harmony of "So Long" concludes the album.

Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. A major step forward for Collide, this album should be explored further. Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, it is a must listen!

Chasing The Ghost is Collide's previous release (Noiseplus Music (USA) Noise 001, 2000). Comprised of ten tracks with electronic and gothic orientation, visitors should visit band's official website or their mp3.com website and have a quick listen to check out the material. We were fortunate enough to discover Collide some time ago, through an introduction by Kristy Thirsk (feature).

While every track on this album is good, other reviewers felt that the project falls short of the pure brilliance that is displayed in the latest album Some Kind of Strange. The arrangements on the album are absolutely superb balancing vocals against lush keyboards and guitar textures.

kaRIN's vocal work on this album, however, is at times heavily processed unlike the latest release. A clear standout track is Collide's cover of Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit." Listeners will certainly hear the foundation for the band's latest project Some Kind Of Strange in the vocal and instrumental arrangements.

Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. A major step forward for Collide, this album should be explored further. Clearly worth a journey, it is a very nice listen!

Spektrum CD Cover
Image © Progress Records 2003

Lizette von Panajott
Lizette von Panajott (lead vocals)
Image © Tomas Johansson 2003


(13 April 2003) The debut album by Sweden's Spektrum is a seven-track self-titled (Progress Records (Sweden) PRCD 010, 2003) progressive masterpiece. Despite a relatively short running time (42 minutes), the album builds vocally and instrumentally leaving the listener longing for more as it concludes. Spektrum's music offers allusions to great progressive bands like Yes, Genesis and Magenta (review). Click on the album cover to visit Spektrum's website.

Spektrum is fronted by the lovely Lizette von Panajott (lead vocals, additional keyboards). The band also includes Hansi Cross (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals, additional keyboards), Olov Andersson (keyboards, acoustic guitar, turkish mini bells, vocals), Göran Fors (basses, vocals, taurus pedals) and Göran Johnsson (drums, vocals, electric guitar, additional keyboards). Lizette's vast background is presented at her Lizette& website. Watch for our review of her debut solo album and interview soon. Progressive rock enthusiasts will know that Göran Fors has his background with Galleon, Göran Johnsson and Olov Andsson have theirs with Grand Stand and that Hansi Cross logically hails from the band Cross.

As readers will no doubt conclude from the band member's keyboard contributions, Spektrum's music is symphonic. Their album opens with an extremely brief title track before breaking into the lushly arranged Genesis-styled "Land Of Longing." The gorgeous vocal harmonies that dominate are underscored by keyboard washes and rhythmic guitar excursions. Lizette's lead vocals emerge amongst lovely guitar solos in the epic "Now," a modern yet 70s style number most reminiscent of tracks the debut Magenta album and Christina Murphy's lead vocals. Multi-tracked vocal harmonies and symphonic keyboards add tremendous textures. A variety of tempo and style changes as well as further instrumental solos during the bridge contribute to the progressive edge of the material.

The album changes flavour in "Perpetuum Mobile," a powerful classically-influenced and lush progressive instrumental with a powerful guitar solo intermixed with layers of Lizette's gorgeous vocalise as the song reaches its climax. The first of the album's standouts is highly accessible rocker "The Quest" featuring Lizette's soaring crystalline lead and lush harmony vocals atop rich keyboard- and guitar-based arrangements. An extended instrumental bridge is followed by a lovely vocal reprise.

All band members contribute to the Yes-like opening vocal harmony in "Ivory Tower," before Lizette's evocative lead vocal takes over. Rhythmic guitar, crisp percussion and lush keyboards provide an excellent and bluesy foundation for Lizette's soaring lead and the backing singers' harmonies. A variety of guitar excursions and keyboard textures during the bridge precede the return of lush Yes-styled vocal harmonies and Lizette's soaring lead vocals.

The album concludes with the upbeat progressive tune "A Chemical Release." A variety of Lizette's vocal textures compliment the rich keyboard-based arrangement ranging from everso powerful processed sounds to lovely crystalline solos and lush backing harmonies. The extended keyboard and combined guitar solos and supporting arrangements within the piece are incredible. Lizette's powerful vocals return prior to the second and downtempo instrumental bridge at the conclusion of the track. It is clearly an album standout.

Spektrum's debut album is presently available from a variety of international specialist mail order and internet retailers (for example CD Services, GFT, Synphonic) as well as the label's online shop. We will advise visitors if and when it is available via amazon.com. Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, and an album in the running for a spot in our "best of the year" list, Spektrum is a must listen!

Live At The Tralf 1 CD
Image © Seconds Out 2003

Live At The Tralf 2 CD
Image © Seconds Out 2003

(06 April 2003) Seconds Out - Live At The Tralf came into existance when Bobby Hillman, the soundman approached Matt Riddle after their show on 01 February 2002 and presented him with a CD that he burned from the board mix during their performance. After Riddle's prior experience with the recording of Envision's live performance there (review), he knew that it would be an excellent mix to work with.

Seconds Out is a classic Genesis tribute band. With Matt Riddle on keyboards, the band is also comprised of Robbie Cooper (lead vocals), Joe Mombrea (guitar, vocals), Rob Thurman (drums, vocals) and Ian Cattell (bass, vocals). The first CD of the set includes nine tracks while the second includes the remaining four. Vocal work, instrumental arrangements, production and recording are all excellent, especially for the band's first live performance. Their representation of Genesis' material is outstanding.

Matt Riddle informs us that he has not left Envision and that the band are making excellent progress on an all original recording featuring the songs and voice of Melissa Riddle. Matt is responsible for the arrangements and keyboard work while guest appearances from Seconds Out performers and symphony players that performed with Yes in 2001 will also be included. We are anxious to hear the project and will inform visitors as soon as we obtain a review copy.

About Seconds Out - Live At The Tralf, Matt told us, "When I finally listened to the Seconds Out board mix, I discovered a batch of solid performances combined with typical canned board mix sound." He continued, "Even though there was a decided lack of low end, it did seem quite a bit better than than the other board mixes I'd heard from our shows. I knew we sounded good in the room, thanks to Bobby's skill at the board. With ranks of bass bins and a beautiful sounding room everything sounded magic. Lots of punch and clarity."

So how did this recording come to life? Matt told us, "After many hours of work on Sound Forge, adjusting the low end and adding a splash of reverb, the sound from that night at The Tralf began to emerge." What you'll hear on these two CDs is the result of only four rehearsals and othe band's very first live performance. There are a few loose ends here and there, but the material exhibits a lot of energy that can only occur from such a performance. The material, as Matt comments is "the real deal, live and unretouched." We are sure that our visitors will enjoy it as much as we have.

Click on either of the CDs left to visit Envision's website. There you'll find further reviews, band biographies and photographs including poses with Yes members! Seconds Out Live at The Tralf two CD set is available directly from the band. Visit this website for further ordering information. You may also obtain other recordings by Envision there. Contact Matt Riddle to arrange payment or make payments through www.paypal.com. Like their Envision material, certainly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, especially in the run up to Envison's first studio recording of original material, these CDs are a must listen!

Let Yourself Fall CD Cover
Image © Paige 23 2001

Paige Paige (guitars/vox)
Image © Paige 23 2003

(14 March 2003) The second release from New York-based alternative rock/pop band Paige 23 is an eleven track collection entitled Let Yourself Fall (2001). After winning a BMG scholarship songwriting contest, Paige (guitars/vox), decided she wanted some company for her music career. Angelo Catalano (drums, percussion) was first to join the band. A twist of fate landed Carmine Guida the role of bass player.

Over the past three years, the band has released two albums, landed radio airplay, signed a publishing deal and produced two videos. They completed Let Yourself Fall without the backing of a major or indie label and celebrated the CD's release at the Manhattan Hard Rock Cafe. The singer has been compared critically to Melissa Etheridge although the band cites influences as Led Zeppelin to the Beatles to Tori Amos.

The band's material varies from highly accessible radio friendly upbeat tunes to heartfelt torch ballads. One live performance is included--it is notably compressed and lacks the production quality of the remaining ten studio recordings. For a three-piece band, they have a remarkably mature sound with vocal production among the album's standout features. Listeners will immediately be drawn to Paige's voice. Her vocal clarity, range and sheer evocativeness forms the trademark sound of the band.

Let Yourself Fall opens with the upbeat "Love You Anyway," a guitar-laden rocker graced with layers of Paige's powerful and soaring vocal lines. Bluesy and funky tracks like "Dylan" and "As Soon As" are continually contrasted with pop rock hook-oriented numbers like "You Couldn't Stop Me" and evocative ballads including "Reaction," the stark "One Fire" and the standout "Run, Run (Too Far From Me)." The mid-tempo acoustic electric blend "Unworthy Because" and wrenching "No Words (Miles and Miles)" are further album standouts. The lush piano-laden "I Can't Let It Matter" concludes the album with Paige's vocal layers leaving the listener keen to hear it again.

Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the latest Paige 23 album Let Yourself Fall from amazon.com here. This album is clearly worth a journey and is a tremendous listen!

House Of Worship CD Cover
Image © Sparrow Records 2003 

(14 March 2003) For years, Twila Paris has impacted the secular music industry with songs such as "He Is Exalted" and "We Bow Down." Her latest release, the retrospective 12-track compilation House of Worship (Sparrow Records (USA) SPD39799, 2003), proves to be a lyrical homecoming of a true worship music pioneer, a compelling, collection of songs for today born out of personal worship encounters. With a distinctively organic production and profound yet simple lyrics, these songs paint with broad strokes and brilliant colors the faithfulness, worthiness and preeminence.

Twila Paris doesn’t spend a lot of time looking back at 22 years of success as a songwriter and recording artist. Despite 32 No. 1 songs, five Dove Awards, three American Songwriter Awards, three books published and more than 2 million albums sold, the numbers don’t mean much to her. Whether it’s in music, ministry, marriage or motherhood, for Twila, true success isn’t about numbers. It’s about faithfulness.

Throughout her career as an artist and songwriter, a huge component of that standard has been in giving songs of worship back to the church as an offering for the One who has always been faithful to her. On each of her 17 previous albums, the songs that have resonated most with listeners have been those that have a definitive worship aspect. Songs like “We Will Glorify” and “He Is Exalted” have transcended the music business, making their way into the hymnody of the church, forever captured in time in hymnals all over the world.

When the time came to record her 18th album, Twila simply couldn’t shake the idea of eternity—of Christians across time and space bowing down and worshiping God in one accord. She knew it was time to record a complete worship album, something she hadn’t done since 1991’s Sanctuary.

Produced by Brown Bannister (Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant), House of Worship is more than another album in a sea of new music for worship. It is a lyrical homecoming of a true worship music pioneer, a compelling, collection of songs for today born out of personal worship encounters with God. With a distinctively organic production and profound yet simple lyrics, these songs paint with broad strokes and brilliant colors the faithfulness, worthiness and preeminence of religion.

Emotive and piano-driven, “Make Us One” is a bold and passionate prayer for God to unify His children in love and holiness. Two big bonuses on House of Worship are the re-recorded versions of Paris’ classics “We Bow Down” and “We Will Glorify,” which not only prove these songs as timeless as the day they were written, but also reveal how much more relevant they become in a more modern setting, with the benefit of vocal richness that comes with maturity.

Without the fanfare or interruptions of a live album, without artistic pretense or spiritual cliché, House of Worship accomplishes what so albums of this class do. It draws individual listeners away from the distractions of life and self, toward the Savior and sustainer of all. And at the same time provides vibrant, new songs for corporate expression, appropriate for traditional, blended and even more modern worship settings. It is worship, full of spirit and ripe with truth.

For Twila Paris, who has been at the forefront of contemporary worship for over two decades, House of Worship signifies a bold new step in the same direction, and yet plenty has changed. Clearly enthusiasts of the music of Shania Twain will enjoy this new album by Twila Paris. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. Clearly worthy of further exploration, with stunning lead and harmony vocals as well as superb instrumental arrangements, this album is a very nice listen!

Sam Holmes EP Cover
Image © Sam Holmes 2002 

(11 March 2003) The debut recording by British singer / songwriter Sam Holmes is a self-produced three-track EP. The material was recorded, mixed and engineered by John Vickers and Jeff Spencer at Hot Pot Studios in Cheltenham, Gloucester (UK).

Written by Holmes, the track "Charlie" features Sam's whispy and evocative folk-style vocals sung over her light acoustic guitar accompaniment. She is joined by John Vickers on bass, Jeff Spencer on guitar and Matt Jones on drums. Backing harmony layers and acoustic guitar both add a lovely texture to this opening number.

Two traditional tunes complete the EP with Sam Holmes' own arrangements. The first of these is entitled "The Drowned Lover." Supported by John Vickers on keyboard, mandolin and fiddle and Matt Jones on drums, Sam also provides acoustic guitar to the arrangement. A heartfelt ballad that explores further reaches of her vocal range and emotions, the harmony vocals work delightfully with the gentle arrangements. The fiddle solo during the instrumental bridge is well played.

"Polly Oliver" concludes the EP. Sam does all of the vocal and guitar work and the track serves to illustrate the artist's tremendous virtuousity. We especially enjoyed the way the vocals were mixed in this tune. The effects provided just enough texture to really make the layers shine. Sam's crystalline vocal texture is most evident in these two new arrangements of traditional tunes.

If this short EP is any indication, we can expect further great things from Sam Holmes. Stay tuned to Musical Discoveries for further reviews of material by this Cheltenham, Gloucester artist. The material is worth a journey and is a very nice listen!

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