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Oh! From The Girls
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Image © Nettwerk Productions 2003
(18 January 2004) It has been six years since Sarah
McLachlan's last album, and Afterglow (Nettwerk
(Canada) 0 6700 30332 2 0, 2003) has been worth
waiting for from this very talented songstress. The
album is filled with lush tones and soothing melodies.
While this CD differs from her previous album,
Surfacing, its songs elicit the sensitive transitions
that Sarah has made in her life due to the tragic loss
of her mother from cancer and the joyful birth of her
Although the album contains only ten short tracks,
Sarah's beautiful, soaring vocals stand out amidst the
mellow tunes she's created. According to the singer,
"A lot of these songs are about transition ... the turning
over of the rock, what's underneath, the murky, shadowy
uncertainty where everything looks very different."
The first track is "Fallen," a philosophical, insightful
look within the artist's thoughts. There is a warmth
and purity throughout, showcasing the beautiful
harmonies. Her next song, "World on Fire" is the only
writing collaboration on this album with Pierre Marchand,
although he plays an integral part as producer, engineer
and mixer on the entire album. All the songs
were recorded at Marchand’s home studio in Montreal
or at McLachlan's home studio in Vancouver.
"Drifting" changes the tone of the previous tracks
with a more carefree melody reflecting the mood of the
song. This buoyancy continues into "Train Wreck" with
Sarah's melodious tones creating the laid-back but rich
aura of her music. Her state of mind while writing this
album continues throughout, reflecting in her tranquil
melodies and reflective lyrics. "Push" creates a
seductive mood with the love-inspired lyrics,
accompanied by Bill Dillon playing the church organ,
Tony Levin on bass, Jorane on cello, and Ashwin Sood
"Answer" comes along with a delicate whispering
tone that sets the atmosphere of introspection and
determination in her acoustic music aided by Jimmy
Creegan on acoustic bass and Sarah's sensitive lyrics.
This song is one of Sarah’s favorites, "It's a total 'two
o'clock in the morning, whispered in your ears'
headphone track. That's always been my thing,
feeling the very essence of a song. I have to be
able to break it down and still feel its
strength acoustically on piano or guitar. If the
essence is strong, you can do whatever you
want with it, it'll still be good. "
Read further reviews, listen to soundbites
and order the album from amazon.com
Afterglow presents a rich tapestry of
musical feelings drawn from this artist's life experiences.
The poignant lyrics and the wonderful melodic
harmonizations bring this series of songs to life.
The emotions brought to the surface through
Sarah's lush vocals will gratify and comfort her
Image © Blue Note Music 2004
(31 January 2004)
Grammy winner Norah Jones is back with a followup
to her best winning album of last year.
Feels Like Home maintains the beautiful clarity
of her vocals with a touch of jazz, blues,
and enticing ballads. One can almost imagine sitting
in the coffeehouse, listening to the
mellow and rich vocals of this captivating vocalist.
The disc begins with the smoky, sultry "Sunrise",
"What Am I To You"and "Those Sweet Words."
Norah has a laid back quality to her music and bringing
in the bluesy guitar instrumentals
adds to the lounging melodies. Her lovely vocals
possess a warmth and languid quality.
"Carnival Town" has a jazzy tone, accompanied
by soft piano that gives the listener the feeling
of sitting around the piano bar. More upbeat jazz
follows with "In The Morning" while piano,
soothing electric (Adam Levy) and acoustic
(Kevin Breit) guitar change the mood to a more
bluesy feel in "Be Here To Love Me."
Dolly Parton joins Norah in "Creepin' In,"
where their two voices blend in a more bubbly
bluegrass duet. Dolly's distinctive vocals make
these lyrics stand out along with the fun melody.
This one was certainly a toe-tapper.
The CD continues with enjoyable material,
but after a few songs, there is not a great deal of
diversity. Some instrumentals stand out, such as
Adam Levy's electric guitar in "Toes" and Kevin
Breit's resonator guitar in "Humble Me." There
are elements of jazz, blues, country and folk/pop
music throughout this album.
In conjunction with Blue Note Music we have the pleasure of pointing visitors to streaming audio of new material
(click here!) from Norah Jones (website).
Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. It certainly will attract
many of Norah's fans, and is worth the
listen.--Audrey Elliot in New York
Image © Nettwerk America LLC 2004
(31 January 2004)
Oh! From the Girls is a 15 song
collection that is released through Oxygen
Media and Nettwerk America. The CD is
comprised of a compilation of songs from
various renowned female artists
including Sarah McLachlan, Avril Lavigne,
Tori Amos, Dido, and many more. Some of
the tracks include live renditions that are
previously unreleased and many of the
songs are well known
Dido launches this compilation CD with
her massive hit, "Thankyou." R&B singer
Macy Gray rocks with her rare live track,
"Come Together." One can feel the excitement
and mood of this explosive
singer. Stacy Orrico's "Stuck" and Avril Lavigne's
"I'm With You" highlight these two songstress'
recent success in the pop/rock market.
Well-known, established vocalists Sarah
McLachlan singing "Angel," Tori Amos singing
the live version of "Cornflake Girl," and Aimee
Mann singing "Calling It Quits" take center
stage withtheir hits. Another tried and true
song, "I'll Stand By You" by the Pretenders has
the listenerreminiscing and singing along. Other
lesser known female vocalists including Sarah Harmer,
Martina Sobara and Kathleen Edwards hold their
own with their soaring vocals.
As noted inside the CD booklet, a portion of the
album's proceeds will go to support Oxygen's national
partners for "Build Your Own Business" which is a
public service program giving women the tools and
funds they need to start their own businesses.
Read further reviews, listen to soundbites
and order the album from amazon.com
here. This compilation is certainly filled
with the familiar
tones of some fabulous female vocalists that we
all know and love, and the newcomers riding on their
shirttails are worthy of a good listen.--Audrey Elliot in New York
Image © Dmitri Silnitsky 2003
iGram Music Entertainment
Exclusive Interview (2005)
Vocalist Photos (2005)
(31 January 2004)
Ariaphonics is part of the classical
crossover genre and soaring, beautiful vocals
abound throughout this album. Interspersed with
an inspiring electronic sound, the exquisite
melodies by Dmitri Silnitsky and fantastic vocals
by the engaging soprano, Gloria D'Amos, make this
album a stand-out.
"Divine Light" and "Summer Moon" combine
distinctive orchestral and electronic sounds
to create a uniqueness of sound. Operatic
renditions by Gloria rival those of Emma
Shaplin, Sarah Brightman, and Italian contemporary
crossover artist, Filippa Giordano. But, it is the
overall sound that make Ariaphonics magnetic and
enthralling. Composer Dmitri Slinitsky said
"Crossover performers sound more or less the
same. Easy pop rhythms, some strings and a
couple of well-known arias. An awful lot of
people like crossover, but the format has become
boring. So I wanted to experiment and try to get
a completely different sound. At the same time,
I wanted to present totally new material, rather
than falling back on the old standards, and take
advantage of the resurgent popularity of
music from the 1970s."
"Sposa son disprezzata" has almost a jazzy
beat due to the incredible musical artistry
of the instrumentalists. Outstanding credits
go to Dmitri Silnitsky on synthesizers
and vocoder; Sash Protchenko on drums, bass
and slide guitar, and midi programming;
Slav Protchenko on keyboards, violin, piano,
rhodes, hammond, clavinet, and mellotron;
and Pavel Pavlov on guitar. Narrations by
Natasha Shanetskaya also contribute to the
overall sensation in this album.
"Intermezzo" arrives with almost an eerieness
in some of the musical riffs, and the
exquisite piano solos and background of blowing
winds create a unique sound. Music
for this track was by Dmitri Silnitsky, Slav
Protchenko and Sash Protchenko. The
listener is engaged in Gloria"s striking sopranic
solos throughout and each track
seems to capture your attention without letting go.
"Lullaby 2030" has a funky sound of its own,
bringing back memories of the '70's while
"A Dulcet Spell" and "Nausica" seem to fuse
different sounds, narration and genres. The
composer also said, "First of all, we’ve used
only electronic instruments rather than
a full-blown orchestra with string and wind
sections. We’ve got melletron sounds instead
of strings, for instance. Secondly, we make
sure slow arias are interspersed with intermezzo,
instrumental compositions where we up the tempo."
The album consists of two CDs, the main one
with nine complete tracks, and the second, an EP
with four tracks that are remixes of "Dulcet Spell,"
"The Knight Erreants Song," "Summer Moon"
and "Sposa son disprezzata."
There is no doubt that the composer achieved
his highest expectations with this superior album.
Once you start to listen, you can't stop. The
album remains engaging throughout and
the stunning vocals and captivating music unifies
the richness of Ariaphonics.--Audrey Elliot in New York
Image © Classic Rock Legends 2003
(27 December 2003)
The latest DVD by the band is entitled Mostly
Autumn At The Grand Opera House York
(Classic Rock Legends (UK) CRL DVD 1514, 2003).
The day after the magnificent concert from which this DVD
came, I posted a highly emotional paragraph on the Mostly
Autumn website asking for its instant release. A paragraph
which, much to my embarrassment, has found its way into
the souvenir booklet itself. Just two months after the event,
this record of the gig is already available. The only question
remains: can the DVD match the majesty of the event
The answer is a triumphant yes. This is a sumptuous
package, though the text could use a little editing, the two
DVD set is presented with an interesting 50-page booklet,
some original artwork by Heather Findlay and it showcases
the splendid photography of Chris Walkden.
Classic Rock Productions have got the content of the
DVDs absolutely right. The first disc is the standard release,
a 90-minute version of the concert featuring the tracks from
Passengers and the astonishing version of "The Gap
is too wide," during which, at one point, there were 25
musicians on stage, including Iona’s Troy Donockley.
The DVD also includes the usual brief-but-entertaining
behind the scenes documentary, which accompanies three
videos showcasing the original audio-visual presentations
from the show. This is an excellent and entirely appropriate
idea, as the multi-media elements of the show, inevitably,
suffer a little on the small screen. One comment though:
a band commentary would have made a great package
The second DVD is what hardcore fans, like me, will want.
A complete, no-nonsense presentation of the show without
frills (except for the "Mother Nature" encore), superbly shot
and a worthy souvenir of an event I will always remember.
After the slightly disappointing The Next Chapter
this really is an essential purchase for fans and potential
fans alike, and takes over from The Story So Far
as their finest visual presentation to date.--Stephen
Image © Marcie 2003
Image © Marcie 2003
Image © Monopsone 2003
(18 January 2003) Bad Judgement Call. After successful single and EP releases in Europe, Marcie has made her debut solo five track EP available for review by Musical Discoveries. The majority of the material was produced at Chaemeonwest Studios by Marc Hunt (Robbie Takac's place, of The Goo Goo Dolls.
Bad Judgement Call opens with the rousing rocker "Don't Call" written by Marcie, Hunt and Macmanus. It serves as a superb introduction to the clarity and power of Marcie's tremendous voice. "Quicksand" is written by Macmanus is more of a mid-tempo bluesy number lightly arranged and demonstrative of Marcie's evocative delivery. "Couple More Days" again picks up the pace. This track, also written by Mamanus, is a delightful track that shows Marcie soaring at the higher end of her range, above rocking guitars and crisp percussion.
Interested visitors should check out the video at Marcie's website (click on either image left). It shows her performing with Nik and The Nice Guys. Says Marcie, "Nik and The Nice Guys is a high profile corporate party band that emplys me independently on a regular basis." She adds, "I do not do my original music with them. Dave Lawrence, who I worked with on "I Just Don't Get it" helped me make the video." She concludes, "The single for that song is sold on the Nik Site, so the video on my site is also up on the Nik Site under 'original music.' Other than that my career with Nik and everything else I do are pretty separate."
The EP continues with "No Room," which features Marcie on lead and on backing vocals. The layered harmonies work with the rocking arrangement very well. And it concludes with Marcie's stomper, also featured in video form at her website (see remarks above), "I Just Don't Get It." The track was written by Stuckless and Lawrence and was produced by Dave Lawrence. The EP shows Marie throughout her range and serves as an exciting introduction to this rapidly emerging artist.
Alexander Perls' Storm. Earlier in 2003, Marcie lent her vocal talents to this European EP. Performing under the name Sarona, Marcie primarily provides sensual vocalise to Perls' 5-track EP of electronic material that will certainly appeal to fans of Delerium, Chimera and related artists.
We asked Marcie about her work supporting European artists. Says Marcie, "The music I've had European label success with has been electronic, both ambient and dance. The goal for my newest album was to create something with domestic appeal since my electronic stuff has had success mostly in Europe."
Listeners will have to pay close attention to pick out the vocalise contributions to the EP's short yet upbeat, new age-style title track. It clearly illustrates another side of Marcie's vocal talent. "The Drive" is borderline pop in style but various effects contribute to the electronic style of the piece. The lofty soprano vocalise adds a great texture.
"Recombination" features Perls' sweeping synth washes under a lovely guitar melody. Marcie's vocals waft in again to add texture and ambience to the track. The track "Maximalist" is very electronic, almost obnoxiously so with pulsing rhythms underscoring a minimalist melody prior to Marcie's delicate vocalise contribution, which is again delightful--and the highlight of the track for sure. The EP concludes with the multidimensional and gently rocking sound of "Can't Be Sure," the only track featuring lyrics, and with several distinct movements within the track, is clearly the highlight of this EP. Marcie's tender vocal contribution is again fantastic.
"Bad Judgement Call" and "Storm" serve as two very different introductions to Marcie's vocal and songwriting talents. We are anxiously awaiting the release of a full length album of her own material and in the meantime encourage our readers to visit her website, check out her music and video and look out for live performances in the Rochester, NY area.
Image © Classic Rock Legends 2003
HLC Rotherham 2000
w/Mostly Autumn HLC Rotherham 2001
Mean Fiddler 2001
Karnataka In Concert DVD*
w/Sleeping Giant Aylesbury 2002
w/October Project 2002
Classic Rock Festival 2002
Delicate Flame Of Desire
The Brook, Southampton 2003*
Robin 2 Bilston 2003
w/Mermaid Kiss Stourbridge 2003
w/Mermaid Kiss 2004
*accompanied by interview
(27 December 2003) Though it is by no means
a bad piece of work, it is a shame that Karnataka's
recorded at London’s Mean Fiddler in 2001 was
recorded just before the band raised their game
considerably. The catalyst for this was the
recruitment of the charismatic Ann-Marie Helder
who has since become a permanent backing
vocalist and flautist, and has added considerable
depth to the bands live sound and visual
presentation over the past two years.
Filmed in Trenton, New Jersey, twelve months
after the Mean Fiddler concert, Karnataka - Live
In The USA (Classic Rock Legends (UK) DVD CRL
1083, 2003) is a very representative presentation of
the band's live set towards the end of 2002.
The songs from Delicate Flame of Desire
are in strong evidence and well performed, with "After the
Rain" already benefiting from additional flute and the
strong interaction between the two singers on the
large Patriot's Theatre stage
Songs to note, especially, are the excellent live
arrangement of "The Storm," and the atmospheric
album version of "Heart of Stone," the bands
most progressive statement to date. The players,
too, are in excellent form with Paul Davies on guitar,
in particular, in confident mood, while Jonathan
Edwards' excellent keyboards are mixed gratifyingly
The DVD is well filmed, though the sound is a little
"dry," lacking the warmth that the playing deserves,
and once again a live recording has failed to quite
capture Rachel Jones' singing at its absolute
best--though it's still pretty good! The interview
footage with the band, for some reason, squinting
into the sun, adds very little insight into the gig, but
is reasonably welcome nonetheless.
Ed. Note: After the disappointing quality of the
Mean Fiddler DVD audio, the band secured
an agreement with the label to mix the Live In
The USA DVD themselves. Indeed a mix was
prepared by the band--not only wasn't it used, but
the production copy audio is out of sync with video
for the first several tracks. Apologies were issued
by the band after the initial release of this DVD.
Both of the band's DVDs are available in PAL and
Read further reviews
and order the DVD from
Overall, this is a welcome addition to Karnataka's
recorded output, and I'd recommend it, especially to
potential new fans.--Stephen Lambe
Live at the Robin 2, Bilston, England -
04 Nov 2003
One year on, and the band have just completed the
second leg of their Delicate Flame of Desire
have further benefited from their latest extended period
on the road. One of the things I like about Karnataka
is that, unlike most bands, they never really drop items
from their live set, circulating older songs on a regular
This gig at the excellent Robin further developed the
interaction between both singers, which has become
considerably more intimate. Rachel has always lent
a strong sexual element to her performance, and
with Ann-Marie now well established in the band
this has gone up more than a notch, as has, fashion
fans will note, the level of colour co-ordination
between the two of them.
As well as the now well established songs from the
new album, and the new song that has been in the
live set for a few months "These Dreams are Over"
(here played as the encore), the band also
introduced a couple of new pieces a short, catchy
song played early in the set, and a longer, more
intense song with an eastern flavour, during which
Ann-Marie played an interesting, horned,
Arabian-sounding wind instrument. These new
pieces give little clue as to what the next album
will sound like, but it’s fun trying to guess.
Aside from these new pieces, the band benefited
considerably from the excellent stage, lights and
sound available at the Robin, which remains one
of the best club venues in the Midland area of
England, and delivered the sort of passionate,
confident, professional performance we have
come to expect from them.
It's good to see that they are continuing to develop
and challenge themselves, and I look forward to
seeing what further excitement 2004 brings
Image © Polydor Records UK 2003
(18 January 2004)
19-year-old Alex Parks will be known to British
visitors of Musical Discoveries as the winner of
BBC 1's most recent Fame Academy
series. This is by far the best of the pop reality
shows, promoting, as it does genuine talent and
compositional ability over blandness and looks.
Though I watched very little of the series, Alex
came across as an engaging personality with
a tomboyish image (she is openly gay). The
album Introduction (Polydor (UK)
9866005, 2003) has been rushed onto the
market to take advantage of Alex's inevitable
Not, then, a particularly enticing prospect,
but the resultant album is actually rather good,
and worthy of considerable attention. Alex's
superb voice – emotional, versatile and rich –
has been put to work over seven original songs
and six covers that mainly represent the songs
she performed during the show. It is also
gratifying that two of her collaborators on
the original songs are two of Britain's best,
and most underrated, songwriters – Boo
Hewerdine and Gary Clark.
Unusually, the album opens with two original
ballads. "Maybe that's what it takes," her first
single, is a good song that never quite tears at
the heartstrings in the way that it should.
However, "Cry," the second single written with
Gary and Boo (how I would love to hear Boo
sing it!) is a magnificent song well served by
Alex's vocal performance and its arrangement.
"Dirty Pretty Words" is much rockier with a great,
dirty guitar sound on its chorus, and a strong
suggestion of Avril Lavigne about it. The next
original song is "Not Your Average Kind of Girl,"
a more ethereal ballad with some lovely harmony
vocals and Beatlesque guitar.
"Stones and Feathers" broods in its verse
before a dramatic chorus and an unexpected,
choral coda bringing to mind the drama of
Evanescence. The album closes on two more
original songs, the superb, crunching "Wandering
Soul" (Gary and Boo again) and the emotional,
dreamy "Over Conscious."
The covers, which are mainly spread across
the middle of the album are a frustratingly varied
bunch. John Lennon's "Imagine" is a trite choice,
and despite an atmospheric arrangement, comes
across no better than well performed karaoke.
The Tears for Fears classic "Mad World" is given
a similar arrangement to the version that was at
No. 1 is the UK charts over Christmas 2003 by
Michael Andrews – slow, brooding and
Her cover of REM's "Everybody Hurts" suits the
fragility of Alex's voice well, but it fails to find the
same ache that Michael Stipe manages on the
original. The song written for Christina Aguilerra,
"Beautiful," however, is much improved by Alex's
stripped down, less hysterical rendition. And the
Eurythmics' "Here Comes the Rain Again" is
converted into a joyful piece of guitar pop that
takes off delightfully on its chorus. Sadly,
Coldplay's "Yellow" is given the carbon-copy
treatment, when a rearrangement would have
been far more interesting.
Alex is clearly a considerable talent, and lovers
of well-crafted pop will enjoy this considerably, even
if they might like to edit out one or two of the covers. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order
the album from amazon.com
here. Some visitors may it more reasonably priced at amazon.co.uk.
A second recording of original compositions--when
the Fame Academy excitement has died
down--is an enticing prospect indeed.--Stephen
Image © Universal Music 1997
Canada seems to have more than its fair share of
female singer-songwriters with individualistic flair;
Joni Mitchell, Jane Siberry, Alanis Morissette, Sarah
McLachlan, Chantal Kreviazuk. Holly McNarland is
possibly the least known of the current cohort. Her
first full length album Stuff (Universal Records
(Canada), 1997) was released following the
six song "Sour Pie" EP issued two years earlier.
Despite some fine reviews, Holly's album was
overshadowed by the extraordinary success of
compatriot Morissette's Jagged Little
Pill which was then well on its way to becoming
the best-selling debut album of all time. And by the
time the Alanis bandwagon hit the buffers, a
combination of adverse publicity and a second
album (Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie)
that had not an ice-cream's chance in hell of living
up to the expectation generated by the first,
Stuff had been out a year and life had moved
The album opens with "Numb." It's a strong, solid
rock song with a very powerful vocal performance that
leaves you in no doubt that Holly puts a lot of herself
into the music, and like much of the album, there's a
lot of anger here "Just another hit for the one you love
/ If you cared at all, you’d put me down ... I feel better
when I'm numb."
The style and anger of the opener is
carried into the second track "Elmo," - "I’m still thinking
about you / 1000 ways to kill you." But there's a twist
at the end of this particular tale which I won't spoil by
revealing. Looking at the title of the next track "Porno
Mouth," you're prepared for more of the same, but this
has a much lighter touch, which serves to enforce the
feeling that not only can this woman perform, but she
can write too - listen out also for the lovely electric
"Water" is an altogether different fish with a very
downbeat, atmospheric opening with Holly singing in
a restrained, ethereal manner and the band is
supplemented by low strings. The chorus is clever in
that by rearranging the order in which the lines are
sung, the song's narrator undergoes a kind of
metamorphosis as the song progresses. The vocal
performance on this track is sublime. Best track on the
In contrast, "Coward" is one of the weakest - that's
not to say it's bad, it just doesn’t engage the listener
in the way the others do - it's also one of the more
derivative numbers. "The Box" is an out and out rocker
that opens with the line "I had a box / a box that could
talk," so Holly takes it for walk, (as you do) has a chat
with it, meets a terrified egg, eats the egg, stops the
box talking, says goodbye. I don’t have a clue what it's
about, but I enjoyed it immensely. She follows this with
the beautiful, acoustically led "UFO," - a mysterious
dream-piece; "I’m as liquid as the sea," she sings.
"Mystery Song" maintains the mood of "UFO." It's
long vocalise over a soft pad and drum loop - in places
it reminded me somewhat of Mermaid Kiss. "Just In Me"
is short, which is good, because it's the worst track on
the album. There's too many effects on the vocals and
it lacks a melody. Skip it. The penultimate track "Twisty
Mirror," opens a little like a stock Fiona Apple song, but
whilst the vocals may have more power than Fiona, it
lacks the subtly that Ms Apple and her producer Jon
Brion would be likely to bring to it - and again,
melodically, it's not as strong as most of the album.
The album concludes with "I Won't Stay," an acoustic
song with a great atmosphere created by some neat
reversed guitar - it all works well, despite the somewhat
tentative ending, and is a refreshing contrast to the two
rather bombastic tracks that preceded it. It also shows
that Holly McNarland is an adept guitarist - she plays
acoustic throughout the album as well as occasional
Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order
the album from amazon.com
Stuff is a very good album that was undeservedly
neglected on its release. There's still time to put that
Image © Hungry Lucy 2003
(18 January 2004) Hungry Lucy began by chance
in 1998 when War-N Harrison (Fishtank No.9) was
asked to contribute to a Depeche Mode Tribute.
War-N asked vocalist/lyricist Christa Belle to record
vocals for the song "Blue Dress." The couple found
they worked together so well that they began writing
together and Hungry Lucy was born.
The first fruit of this labor was "Bound in Blood"
(now considered a Hungry Lucy classic). After writing
and recording a handful of songs, War-N & Christa
decided to put them up on mp3.com and the emails
began to flood in from around the world! Pleasantly
surprised by all the positive feedback, Hungry Lucy
embarked on a full-length album.
Autumn 2000 saw the release of Hungry Lucy's
that received amazing response worldwide. People
responded to the combination of pop song structures,
trip hop grooves and Christa's enchanting vocals and
Hungry Lucy continued exposing themselves very
tastefully with a number of compilation and tribute
This only fed to fire and Apparitions continued to
sell better than ever. Still the fans wanted more. Hungry
Lucy delivered with the debut live performance in San
Francisco, a licensing deal with Belgian label Alfa Matrix
and subsequent European release of Apparitions:
Spring and early summer of 2002 found Hungry Lucy
on stage in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Cleveland
and even out in the Indiana woods! These live
performances gave the public a real audio-visual treat
with Hungry Lucy's music and accompanying video.
Hungry Lucy spent the last part of 2002 recording
their next full length double album entitled Glo
(HLCD002, 2003). The first Disc is an excellent collection
of twelve original tracks that pull out all sorts of brooding
and lovely emotion. The second contains ten remixes
that move in the dance/trance direction. Hungry Lucy
have created a double treat for fans who like both to
dance into the wee hours and to "chillout" into the
Songs like the stunning slow-vibe "Rebirth" will please
fans of ethereal trip-hop acts like Halou and Harland. On
"Rebirth," Hungry Lucy lace their deep and slow groove
lines with electronic sighs and the siren voice of Christa
Belle. The dreamy and mesmerizing "Her Song" is a
sweeping lullaby of a song with soft piano and light
The chilling "Into Pieces" moves
insidiously with a slinky beat while ghostly
soundscapes caress Christa Belle's vocals. "Fearful"
is a pounding industrial/darkwave piece that would make
Collide proud. One of the best tracks, "Storm" is a
killer Portishead-y tune complete with funky bass-line
and finger-snapping beats.
If the first disc of Glo is ambient chill at its
best, the second is a kick-in-the-pants dance set. Take,
for example, the Kew Mix of "In the Circle" which pulses
and throbs with an energy that would make Madonna
proud. The Dreamside Mix of "Could it Be" is all fierce
drum-n-bass and perfectly fitted for the goth/tehcno club
scene. "Her Song" (Synthpop Radio Mix) is an
Erasure-influenced remix that really emphasizes the
upbeat nature of the song.
Glo is a highly listenable and impressive album.
With intriguing instrumentation, loops and drums, and the
seraphic voice of Christa Belle, all things seem right in Hungry
Lucy's world. And the good news is that the band are
working on their next album, To Kill a King, due for
release in summer 2004.
Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the
album from amazon.com
Glo is an excellent followup to Apparitions
that will delight the band's established following and attract
new listeners to their music.--Justin Elswick
Image © Great Northern Arts 2002
(18 January 2004) New Age/World Music artist Serah’s newest
release, Late Harvest (Great Northern Arts/Ryko (USA), 2002),
derives its name from an old fable that tells the tale of a vineyard
owner who journeyed from his village on a quest to defend his
ideals, and returned home very late in the summer, well after
the normal harvesting time. There he discovered that all of the
people who helped him harvest in previous years had waited for
him out of deference. The grapes hadn't spoiled, but instead were
tremendously sweet and fragrant, and with them the village
created a heady dessert wine called the 'Late Harvest' wine.
The story of an individual voyaging to a distant land, upholding
strong moral and humanitarian ideals and returning home to reap
a sweet harvest supported by their friends and admirers could be
Serah’s own story. In the 80s, she traveled to Africa to work in a
drought-stricken region of Northern Kenya. She took along her
guitar and after work, shared her music with the local families,
as they shared their music with her.
She returned to America
with the firm belief that music can reach across cultural barriers
to inspire and heal. With that in mind, she has gathered an
incredible family of multi-cultural musicians around her, not least
of which is Senegal’s renowned Wasis Diop who co-produced
and co-arranged quite a few of the songs on Late Harvest,
as well as contributing vocals, guitar and percussion.
In addition to her own standout compositions, on this album
Serah takes us in a new direction, bringing her own fusion of
African and western musical influences to well known pop
standards by Van Morrison ("Crazy Love"), Christopher Cross
("Sailing"), and Ben E. King ("Stand By Me"), which is already
a hit on the AC charts.
Serah's original contributions to Late Harvest are a
celebration of the human experience, with themes ranging from
romantic love--I’m partial to the bouncing "I Think I Know," with
a beautiful assist from Diop--to spirituality and our ongoing
struggle to be the best that we can be. "Psalm Song" and
"Inner Voice Dialogues" particularly resonate.
of the album is the haunting "Dolce," which uses beautiful
imagery and amazing instrumentals and, for me, expresses
the struggles and rewards of the long journey we all must
take to find the best in ourselves and each other.
The mood of the album is wide-ranging, with tracks spanning
moods from the uplifting to the meditational, which is probably
why it hasn’t left my 5-disc CD changer since the day I got it. Recommended for its evocative imagery,
thought-provoking lyrics, beautiful music and amazing African
flavor, anyone who has enjoyed Serah's other albums
(Senegal Moon, Flight of the Stork, Wing of Mercy, Out of the
Wind) will love it, and for everyone else, this is definitely
worth a listen.
For a taste of what Late Harvest offers,
there are mp3s and very interesting
behind-the-scenes videos at her
album is available from her site as well as
Image © Plastinka Records 2003
Live in Oulu
Image © Plastinka Records 2003
(18 January 2004) During the past years, the
Finnish a cappella ensemble Rajaton has achieved
success both in Finland as well as other countries
across the world. At the end of October
2003 the group of five singers--two sopranos,
one alto, one baritone and one bass--released
in Finland their latest album entitled Joulu
(Plastinka Records (Finland) PLACD 006, 2003)
(translated as "Christmas"), and this album is
the fourth album in the group's history.
When listening to this album--a two-CD set--one
doesn't need to wonder why the album went Gold in
Finland in just about two months, because both the
first "studio" disc and the other "live" disc (recorded
in the church but not in concert) once again show
what kind of harmony and the "steel" collaboration
can be at its best. In addition, both of these albums
have very professional producers; whereas disc one
has been produced by a multi-talented person
(Mrs.) Anna-Mari Kähärä, the producer of the other
disc is a long-term choir conductor (Mr.) Pasi Hyökki.
The sales were surely boosted also by the recent,
greatly outcarried and nearly sold-out Rajaton
Christmas Tour, which included concerts in fourteen
cities around Finland.
Once again, the choice of the pieces must have
been difficult since there are so many songs to choose
from, but Rajaton has succeeded to make the
Christmas album as a whole, not just a collection of
various songs. In addition to the arrangements of
already familiar Christmas songs, there are also both
brand new songs that have been especially composed
for Rajaton, as well as arrangements of a bit more
unfamiliar songs, too. Among the list of composers
there are e.g. Sibelius, Mia Makaroff and even
Anna-Mari Kähärä herself, and even the ensemble's
bass singer Jussi Chydenius has also both arranged
and composed some of the pieces. This shows the
versatility of the singers very well indeed!
Many listeners could imagine to hear only "basic"
arrangements of those carols already familiar, but
with Rajaton it just isn't so all the time. For example
a piece called "Kulkuset" (Jingle Bells) has evolved
in the hands of a Finnish jazz pianist/composer Mr.
Iiro Rantala, into a very humorous and uniquely
funny wholeness with its "reggae" rhythms,
although a foreigner who doesn't understand
Finnish would wonder what there is in common
with reggae and a sleighride. The secret is, that
the words "reggae" and "reki" (sleigh) are pronounced
quite similarly to each other, so that makes the
thing very amusing!
The first disc contains mostly "jolly"
and happy Christmas pieces and the other one is
a bit more serene, and each to compliments
the other, forming a wholeness to the album.
Christmas music for every taste so to say, and
with very well interpreted as well! The only
thing that is lacking are the lyrics and their
English translations, so if the album would be
released outside Finland as well, it should also
contain lyrics and their translations as well. It
would be a big pity if the album remains released
only in Finland, since I believe that this kind of
brilliant material, even though it's all Christmas,
has a potential to sell well enough in other
countries as well. The result of such steel
collaboration really deserves a greater audience
than just us Finns, because this double album is
a must-listen!--Suvi Kaikkonen