home   site updates   review digest   reviews   featured artists   discussion   links   about us  
 
Description
While this website has become known for its in-depth album and concert reviews, the digest contains concise comments on new music our audience has either recommended or might enjoy. Click on album covers or label names for links to further information. Click on the title to view the article.

Content
Eleisha Eagle
Fauxliage
Hayley Westenra
Caamora
Emmy Rossum
Uh Huh Her
Magenta
Gina Villalobos
Jane Monheit
Bebek
Electron Love Theory
Jeriko

Links
Digest Index
More Digest Entries
Previous Digest Entries
Instrumental Digest
 
Lamplighter CD Cover
Image © Eleisha Eagle 2007

More Eleisha Eagle:
reviews and interview (2006)

Eleisha Eagle Image © Eleisha Eagle 2007
 

(06 August 2007) Eleisha Eagle attains new theatrical heights with her latest album, Lamplighter. This indie artist has produced her own Broadway-esque musical including wonderful tap dances, chorus girls and enticing melodies. She has created a delightful storyline and divided her album into two acts. The key to this album is to listen to it from beginning to end in order to absorb the intended lavish musical journey.

This wonderful singer/songwriter/pianist/tap dancer has unleashed a fourteen-track CD that blends Broadway's chi-chi and schmaltzy style with the symphonic melodies of prog rock. She is very much into musical theatre and this album is certainly a positive representation of that love. Throughout these tracks, her musical influences, which include Ben Folds, Janis Joplin, Stephen Sondheim, Elton John, Nancy Griffith, The Beatles, Fiona Apple, Tricky, and Bjork, impact her unique musical approach.

With her background of ten years of classical piano lessons, dancing five days a week and acting in local musical theatre troupes, Eleisha chose to pursue a music career only after walking away from a graphic design scholarship at Washington University in St. Louis. She followed her dreams to Nashville, Tennessee and has imprinted her unmistakable style on the music world. She enticed listeners with her debut album Private School (2005) and her six-track self-titled acoustic EP (2006). Eleisha said, "My favorite quote that sums up my style is: 'Ben Folds ate a Fiona Apple and gave birth to a show tune about a postmodern Catholic school girl.' Others have compared me to Regina Spektor, Imogen Heap, Regina Spektor and The Dresden Dolls for various reasons."

In discussing performing, Eleisha said, "The live performances are nowhere near as dramatic as I'd like them to be, but they certainly stick with you. With a background in musical theatre, I'm very interested in bringing the audience in through all forms of entertainment. I share stories, tell jokes, and encourage audience participation. Something strikes a chord with people who see my live shows, especially if they can relate to the songs."

Lamplighter begins with a wonderful overture that gives the listener a taste of what's in store. The Broadway sound comes to life and the listener can be swept away with the imagery of the lure of the greasepaint. The musical hooks in the score captivate as in the opening song, "One." Eleisha's magnificent and emotive voice tells you that she "can take you on" and without a doubt, she does. The story continues with the whimsical "Broken Shoestring." Her power and dynamic delivery create an irresistible allure.

"Oh So Sorry," with its quick tempo, fervency, and guitar-laden rock instrumentation make this song ever so memorable. The gentle vocals in "My Level" highlight the sensuality and lushness of her voice. A carnival atmosphere is evoked in "Cushions of Explanation." Eleisha's twangy rendition along with the amusing melody set the music-scape. Before the second act, a short musical intermission intercedes, allowing the listener to catch their breath and marvel at what they've just heard.

Act II begins with the tender "Avenue of Smiles." This hypnotic and enticing melody has a wonderful chorus and a definite musical hook. This memorable and vocally lush chorus makes this a delightful track. The highs and lows are certainly reached in the striking and playful "Astronaut." Crisp vocals, percussive piano and a memorable melody contribute to the strength of the song. The mischevious "Elephant Shoes" evokes a fanciful sensation, along with Eleisha's soft shoe dancing. The "sets" appear clear as day in the listener's imagination as we ride along on this fantastic adventure.

The chorus girls introduce "Little Sunbeam" and Eleisha takes over with her poignant and dynamic vocals in "Other Girls." Eleisha's powerfully delivered vocal melody makes this song another album standout along with her gentle tap dancing. "One Part Two" follows with its melancholic riffs in this sensual, moving ballad. The gentle ballad textures of the verses are contrasted with choruses that build with increasing power, richness and depth as the track crescendos towards its conclusion. The album ends with the emotive, orchestral "Lamplighter's Ballet." The listener, in essence, is "watching" the credits and absorbing the brilliance of this amazing album and the distinctive monumental musical landmark that has been achieved.

Although brief, this forty-one minute album is captivating, amusing, enticing and a must-listen. Eleisha's musical prowess is certainly evident throughout and she weaves a wonderful tapestry of musical flavors to continually whet the appetite for more. That's entertainment!--Audrey Elliot in New York

 
Fauxliage CD Cover
Image © Nettwerk Music Group 2007

Leigh Nash
Leigh Nash (vocals)
photo © Jeremy Cowart 2007

More Leigh Nash:
Blue on Blue (2006)
Interview and Photos (2006)

More Delerium:
Chimera (2003)
Odyssey (2002)
Poem (2000)
Karma (1997)
Semantic Spaces (1994)

More:
Conjure One (2002)

 

(08 July 2007) Fauxliage is the first full length collaboration between former Sixpence None the Richer singer, Leigh Nash, and Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber of Canadian ambient pop outfit Delerium. Nash's voice will be instantly recognizable to Delerium fans, having sung on their hit single "Innocente (Falling In Love)" from the album Poem (review) and contributed two songs, "Run For It" and "Orbit of Me" to the band's subsequent Chimera (review).

"Safety" was recorded in Vancouver while Nash contributed ideas and vocals from her home in Nashville, and also features multi-instrumentalist Roy Salmond, bassist Leah Randi and Sarah McLachlan drummer Ash Sood. "It was a project created to always have female singers," says Bill Leeb. "And Leigh has always been a personal favorite of mine."

The fusion of Nash's evocative vocal style, which harks back to classic country heroines Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline, and Leeb and Fulber's organically created electronic soundscapes, isn't an obvious one but somehow fits perfectly. "The first time I wrote for a Delerium track (Innocente) I was very nervous and intimidated," says Nash. "I had never done anything like that before with this kind of music. I found it to be such an enjoyable challenge."

Opening with the upfront pop and restless hooks of "All the World" and "Someday The Wind", Nash gives the album its emotional depth, from the celestial harmonies of "Draw My Life" to the simmering anger of "All Alone". Nash's lyrics touch on universal themes of love and loss but often have a basis in personal experience, most notably "Rafe" the first single to be taken from the album. "Rafe is about my cousin who was very ill at the time and needed comfort," she explains. "He used to be a very successful ballet dancer, that's why there are references to him dancing under light. The song was written to be a hand for him to hold in what I thought might be his last moments. Thankfully he is now doing well."

Leeb and Fulber also conjure the ornate, almost baroque instrumental "Magic" and the lush lounge-influenced "Vibing" with it's Rhodes piano recalling the classically constructed ambience of William Orbit. Yet despite Fauxliage's unabashed pop stylings the album still retains a melancholic if seductive air.

"Music always reflects the artist's state of mind otherwise it's not realistic," says Leeb. "At this particular moment in my life I am feeling very introspective and this album became part of that persona and that is why the album has a very moody ambience to it. And the lyrics add to this mood by "taking of stock of one's personal life."

Fauxliage (Nettwerk Music Group (USA), 0 6700 30566 2 5, 2007) is comprised of nine individual songs that run about 40 minutes. As one might imagine for a release involving the people behind Delerium, the album also contains remixes; there are two of the track "Rafe." With many enthusiasts in eager anticipation since the project was conceived well over a year ago, a longer album would have been appreciated. Perhaps some of the tracks didn't meet the artists' standards or are being held back for b-sides on future EPs. Indeed Leigh Nash's vocals work perfectly with Rhys Fulber and Bill Leeb's compositions.

"Let It Go" is the first internet track provided to listeners on the group's MySpace and Bebo pages. Nash's vocal work is exquisite and rides atop the dreamy electronica passeges effortlessly. Surprisingly for a collaboration amongst the three primary artists, there are two instrumental-only tracks on the album, one entitled "Magic" and the other named "Vibing."

The album's last original track is Leigh Nash's evocatively delivered "All Alone." Harmonizing vocals add great texture to the glistening instrumental arrangements to the track. The album concludes with the two remixes of "Rafe." The very different "Gabin Remix" blends a range of styles; the percussive and brassy arrangement is half tropical and half big band. The "Pacha Remix" is even more percussive mixing reggae with other ethnic treatments.

We agree with Richard Adams at Nettwerk. Fauxliage is a subtle slice of dream pop that's far removed from Delerium's darker root. Like their esoteric name suggests, Fauxliage are a hidden gem, waiting to be discovered.

 
Celtic Treasure CD Cover
Image © Decca Music Group 2007

More Hayley Westenra:
Interview and Photos (2003)
Pure (2003)
Live From New Zealand (2005)
Odyssey (2005)

Hayley Westenra
Image © Decca Music Group 2007

Hayley Westenra
Image © Decca Music Group 2007

 

(01 July 2007) The ninteen year old New Zealand chanteuse, Hayley Westenra, has released another stellar album of traditional Irish tunes, American classics and some new compositions. Celtic Treasure, aptly recorded in Dublin, Ireland, has thirteen heavenly tracks and is being released mid-March in the US. The UK version, Treasure, was released on February 26th with a slightly different lineup and fifteen tracks. Nevertheless, Hayley's incredible and dynamic vocals step to the forefront in this dazzling array of songs.

This amazing classical crossover songstress does not disappoint as her angelic voice reaches new heights in this album. Hayley has an extensive vocal range and she can tackle any song effortlessly and superbly. She has a wonderfully maturity and richness of voice which can only be described as vocal perfection. Her past albums have already shown her great musical versatility, and her extraordinary talent continues to flourish.

According to Hayley, "I come from a musical family, and one with a real sense of history. My forefathers, who came from Ireland, were on the Midlothian's maiden voyage from England to Christchurch, New Zealand in 1851. My grandmother used to sit me on her knee and sing songs like "Danny Boy" from as early as I can remember, and each one had a fascinating story of its own. A singer herself in her earlier years, she has always been a never-ending source of songs, and she travelled round the country picking up new songs to perform. It's this legacy of music that she's been passing down to me since my childhood, and it's many of these beautiful old songs that I've explored here on my new album. But new music has to be written, new songs created, otherwise we are robbing the future of a past, and I've included on my album some new songs that I have written with people I've met on my travels around the world. I love the idea that in years to come, songs that I have sung, and maybe even some that I have helped to create, might get passed down through generations of families until they too become a part of history."

Her opening track, "Let Me Lie," is a song that Hayley co-wrote with with Sarah Class, who arranged the music for her first album, Pure. The song describes the connection we have with the earth. Hayley's soaring and stunning vocals are flawless. The music flows with wonderful richness and her Celtic roots are clearly seen in this original song. "Scarborough Fair" has a lovely, haunting melody. The orchestral instrumentals create an amazing backdrop for her beautiful singing. Her expansive talent is astonishing. Her rendition of the American folk tune, "Shenandoah," is lush and ethereal. Beautiful strings accompany Hayley's incredible singing. The feeling the listener is left with is pure bliss. "This is an American folk song that originated as a river shanty but became popular with sea-going crews around the early 1800's, and another of my Grandmother's favourites. There are literally dozens of verses, but I've chosen the ones that mean the most to me. It's great how the music evolves like this."

A haunting flute solo is the prelude to the exciting, vibrant and explosive "Summerfly." Wpnderful fiddling enhances this delightful song. Hayley said that she first heard this song a few years back and loved how it felt. After closely listening to the lyrics, "I realised it was about the feeling of being young and how summertime simply flies by all too soon." Hayley fully embraces the lyrics and the energetic melody becomes mesmerizing. The American hymn, "Whispering Hope," has a backing choir which gives the song a fresh, new sound amidst the traditional theme.

The classic "Danny Boy" is certainly a standout track. Hayley said, "There's a bit of mystery behind the origins of the song. The lyrics first appeared in print in a traditional Irish music book, however I believe it was an English/American creation. Nanna and I used to sing the song all the time. When I told her on the phone I was going to record it, she just started singing it back down the line to me." Her soothing version is stunning and simple piano accompanies her exquisite solo. The result is perfection with absolutely gorgeous soprano tones emanating from this talented artist.

Her writing efforts succeed with "Summer Rain" which she co-penned with songwriter Jeff Franzel who was in her band on a US tour. She had the idea for the song, and Jeff helped her develop it into a reality. She said, "It's a love song describing the way love can revive just like the rain on a warm day. I had the melody and had the lyrics and really wanted to take the song to completion, give a bit of structure to it. Sometimes those little details make the difference." Her distinctive vocals and the entrancing melody combine to create a winner with this contemporary song. "The Last Rose of Summer" is a tender, emotive ballad that is a traditional Irish folk song. Hayley sings it to perfection.

"One Fine Day" is from Puccini's opera "Madame Butterfly." Although the lyrics are traditionally sung in Italian, Hayley changed course and decided to present her version in English. She explained, "Long before I was old enough to go to the opera itself I had heard this version that I am performing here. It's in more of a song format, perhaps less dramatic than that performed by the divas of the time, but none the less poignant in that the story is just as gripping carried on a melody, that must rank among the greatest of the last century." She certainly does justice to this famed aria and takes a justified risk in performing this piece. Her tone is exquisite and unfaltering.

"Sonny" is another Irish folk tune where Hayley accompanies herself on the piano. It's one of her favorite songs which about a mother singing to her son saying, "Don't leave me here by myself; your father's gone away; don't leave me." Hayley's grandmother used to sing this song to her and it left a deep impression on her due to the heartbreaking lyrics. The poignant and impressive vocals continue with "The Water is Wide." Each vocal stanza crescendos as the piece progresses and Hayley's magnificent voice is beautifully showcased.

"Melancholy Interlude" is a stunning English Renaissance piece by composer John Dowland. She was so taken by the music when she first heard it played on guitar. She immediately loaded it onto her laptop. "I was in Japan at the time and it was about 2 o'clock in the morning and got so excited hearing it! I just thought, 'Wow, this has an amazing melody and would work really well as a song' so I immediately started writing lyrics to it. Maybe I should be scared that all the John Dowland fans (he has a fanatical following) are going to hunt me down!" The haunting and melancholy melody suits Hayley to a tee, highlighting her sensational voice. The final track, "Abide With Me," is very uplifting hymn and has a refined elegance. She said, "While it would appear to be quite a sombre song, it's actually a hymn which has the ability to pull you from your despair. I've recorded the first verse a cappella as I think the words deserve to be pondered upon and fully taken in."

In addition to her new album, Hayley is joining the tour of "Celtic Woman," a group made up of four Irish vocalists and an Irish fiddle player. Hayley said that she will tour with the group across America and she has already filmed a PBS television special with them. Also, Hayley continues her work with UNICEF and is one of the youngest ever Ambassadors for this wonderful organization. She is planning a second trip to Ghana and has set up "Hayley's Bikes for Ghana." This project has already provided 6,000 bikes for children in Ghana so they can attend school and find a better future. Her charitable involvements have also brought her to the Women's Environmental Network which is a group that raises awareness of environmental issues affecting women. She is fervent in her efforts to highlight the dangers of pollution, global warming and nutritional issues. On another note, she is scheduled to sing at the 2007 World Cup Finals for rugby.

Hayley Westenra's tribute to her Celtic ancestry is just wonderful. Celtic Treasure is even more special since these tunes were chosen especially by Hayley and have personal meaning to her. Her voice is glorious and she continues to improve and impress with age. Her striking beauty and incredible vocal talent are beyond words. But, simply said, Hayley Westenra is a singing sensation. Her crystalline voice is pure ecstacy and the world is truly blessed to enjoy her astonishing and breathtaking talent.

 
Walk On Water CD Cover
Image © Metalmind Productions 2007

Agnieszka Swita and Clive Nolan are Caamora
Agnieszka Swita and Clive Nolan
performing in Rotherham, England
Image © Caamora 2007

More Caamora:
Agnieszka Swita Interview (2008)
Closer (2006)
Caamora Walk on Water (2007)
Caamora She (2008)
Caamora Embrace (2008)

More Clive Nolan:
From Ignorance To Ecstacy (1991)
Strangers on a Train (1997-1998)
Jabberwocky (1999)
Marked For Madness (2001)
Hound of the Baskervilles (2002)


 

(09 July 2007) The second EP from Agnieszka Swita and Clive Nolan but their first released as Caamora is entitled Walk On Water (Metalmind Productions (Poland) MASSCD DG 1017, 2007). It is a four-track collection to build interest in the She project, scheduled for release in early 2008. The Rock Opera version of the H Rider Haggard novelShe will be performed live and filmed for DVD in October 2007. The production will also feature vocal work of Magenta's Christina Booth.

Walk On Water includes material specially written for this release as well as the tracks "Shadows" and "Invisible" from the forthcoming full length album. Alongside Agnieszka Swita and Clive Nolan, the EP also includes guest performances by Mark Westwood (Neo) on guitar, John Jowitt (IQ) on bass and Scott Higham (ShadowKeep) on drums.

Clive Nolan's distinctive style is immediately evident on this new release. The EP opens with the title track, a glorious rocker from Nolan's archive, percussive keyboards performed in the Shadowlands style with vocals delivered evocatively by both Agnieszka Swita and Clive Nolan. The dramatic and powerfully performed track must be tremendous to see performed live. Mark Westwood's guitar solo during the instrumental bridge adds further excitement to this opener. The harmony vocals add to the quality of the production.

The first taste of the She project is "Shadows," that further exposes Agnieszka's vocal prowess and demonstrates Clive's passion for theatrically styled numbers. Rich harmony vocals and thick guitars perfectly compliment the symphonic keyboard passages.

"I Can See Your House From Here" is a new piece written specifically for this EP. It is a powerful guitar-laced rock number further demonstrating and highlighting Agnieszka's power, passion and range, the instrumentalists virtuousity and the oustanding production quality that can be expected from the project's future releases.

The EP concludes with "Invisible" also to feature on the forthcoming She project. Backed by electric piano, and even further exposing Agnieszka's vocal chops, she sings lead and contributes multiple, richly arranged, backing choral harmonies on this tenderly delivered ballad. The song is a powerful inducement to look out for the release of the full production in early 2008.

Caamora's Walk On Water EP has four great songs and provides an excellent second introduction to his work with this stunning vocalist and for the She project. The live performance in October gets closer each day.

 
Inside Out CD Cover
Image © Geffen Records 2007

Emmy Rossum Emmy Rossum
Image © Geffen Records 2007
 

(03 August 2007) Emmy Rossum's debut EP Inside Out was released at iTunes on 31 July 2007. Her EP is a digital bundle comprised of three songs, "Slow Me Down", "Stay" and "Falling" and also includes a bonus documentary on Emmy's journey in making the album. According to Geffen, the full length album is coming soon.

"This music is who I am," says 20-year-old Emmy Rossum of her self-titled debut. "In the movies, I've always felt like one piece of the puzzle. But this is all me. It's my baby. I get to write, direct and star. And that's the most fulfilling thing. It's everything I've always wanted to do. This music is so close to me. It's something new. You can't categorize it."

With a Golden Globe nomination for her performance as Christine in the film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera and major roles in the big-budget Hollywood motion pictures Mystic River, The Day After Tomorrow and Poseidon, Rossum has made her name as an actress, but her first love has always been music. By the age of seven, she was singing with the Metropolitan Opera, performing in more than 20 separate productions in six different languages at Lincoln Center alongside icons such as Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti.

"There's a photo of me listening intently to a violinist in Central Park when I was two," says Rossum, who grew up in Manhattan an only child, raised by her photographer mother. With her mom often traveling, the young Emmy was often left to her own devices, much of the time spent listening to classical music like Vivaldi and jazz piano by John Lewis.

That longing for closeness and fear of abandonment can be heard on several songs from the new album, written largely by Rossum with producer Stuart Brawley. It is a showcase for her remarkable vocal range. With a lush, sensual style, Rossum sings every note on the album. Her vocals seduce, rather than show off.

The first single, "Slow Me Down," about trying to "find a respite from all the craziness," is made up of more than 150 different parts and harmonies, every one of them sung by Emmy herself, including, in some cases, the percussion. "Stay" was the first piece she wrote for the record.

"That's about wanting to be sexy and vulnerable for someone you like," she says. "And not being afraid to ask them to stay, even if just for the night."

"Pop music was fascinating to me. Since I was immersed in classical and opera, I was 13 before I heard a drum, a guitar, or anybody belting out a song," she admits. "When I finally did, it was amazing to me."

"I didn't want this album to be like, 'Look what I can do,'" she says. "People have heard me hit the high 'E' in Phantom of the Opera, and I'll use that range to occasionally add different colors. But I wanted to create a kind of music that would allow me to use my voice as another instrument. I sing the parts that would be played by guitar or piano. I tried to discover, how much can you do without instruments? What is the boundary of the human voice?"

The gentle "Lullaby" reflects a childhood longing not only for someone to calm and ease her fears, but a desire to care for and comfort others, part of her own nurturing nature. "Things can sometimes weigh so heavily upon you as an adult," she says. "Without anyone to sing you to sleep like when you were a kid. It's a lullaby for adults, to know that we're not alone, that someone loves and cares about you."

When she started the recording process, Rossum decided she didn't want to make the album in a "popera" classical style similar to Sarah Brightman, another diva associated with Andrew Lloyd Webber.

"I felt I had exhausted that part of myself," she explains after her stints in the Metropolitan Opera and in Phantom. "I've been exposed to a lot of different kinds of music since that period of my life. There were so many other influences I picked up along the way."

Indeed, on songs like "The Great Divide," she shows the influence of her motion picture bow in 2000's indie hit, Songcatcher, where she learned to sing folk and bluegrass music in her role as an Appalachian orphan, receiving an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Debut Performance. When Dolly Parton invited her to Nashville to record, it convinced Rossum she would one day make her own album.

"That was a new experience for me, but I was really able to add to my repertoire," she says of singing in Songcatcher. "The opera is all about technique, breathing and support. Here we were, sitting on a mountain, and the goal was the twang and the flips in the voice--the feeling and emotions of connecting to those words."

She took that experience and put it to good use on her own album. "Everything I sing about in these songs has really happened to me… They are all things that I've been through myself," she says.

"The Great Divide" tells of two people having a fight, with one of them trying to stop before saying something they'd be sorry for. "I had to color my voice in a certain way to sing it," she says. "The plaintive tone and vocal flip have the same qualities of a Scottish/Irish folk song."

Inside Out deals with "the scars everybody has, and the fear of showing the. It's about opening yourself up and letting someone see the real you," according to Rossum, while the romantic "High" was inspired by looking out the window of a plane and daydreaming of dancing among the white clouds and full moon with someone she loves, far removed from the earth below. The feeling of waiting "Just 24 more hours/Until you're by my side/I wait for dark to fall again/So I can be alive."

"There's a great deal of sadness in life, but I'm really a glass half-full kind of person," she claims. "I didn't want this album to be confessional or self-indulgent. I just wanted to be honest. The songs are personal. Many of them are about relationships, about breaking up or being in love. I'm a person who feels everything intensely, which is an asset and a problem."

While her film career continues to gain momentum, Rossum is looking forward to performing the material from her album in concert, already planning an elaborate stage set with video that can capture her singing with herself.

"I don't do things half way," she says. "I'd like my live show to be its own entity, a full presentation." On the 15-minute documentary reveals even a more intimate side of her. "I've never been more excited about anything," she says about the record. "This album is about figuring out who I am. It's the real Emmy Rossum. For the first time, I'm not speaking someone else's lines. I feel the most open and able to express myself in a song. It's scary because it's all me."

We are very keen to hear the full length album. If you think you know Emmy Rossum, listening to her music makes clear there's a lot more than meets the eye and ear.

 
I See Red CD Cover
Image © Plaid Records 2007

Leisha Hailey and Camila Grey
Leisha Hailey and Camila Grey
Image © Plaid Records 2007

 

(14 July 2007) The indie electro-pop duo Uh Huh Her, featuring Leisha Hailey and Camila Grey has released its debut EP entitled I See Red (Plaid Records (USA) 0 6700 36417 5 3, 2007). Distribution is via Nettwerk Music Group, and the group's publicity contact is interestingly Heidi Rhoades (not the singer/songwriter Heidi Rhodes). The release is available digitally from online retailers, with the bonus track "Mystery Lights" available exclusively from iTunes. The artists were schooled at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and Berklee College of Music respectively.

The group is based in Los Angeles and fronted equally by Leisha Hailey, formerly of the alt-pop band The Murmers who currently appear on Showtime's hit series The L Word, and Camila Grey, bassist and keyboardist with the lo-fi band Mellowdrone who worked with Dr. Dre, Busta Rhymes, Melissa Auf Der Maur and Kelly Osbourne. The duo have been working together since the beginning of 2007 writing the songs that make up the self-recorded and produced I See Red. Listen to the band's music at the band's website as well as their MySpace.

Our review EP is comprised of five tracks including two versions of the band's first single "Say So." The other four tracks are emotionally charged and upbeat electro-pop numbers that will please the most discerning listener. The group's laser-sharp harmonies, lush string arrangements and muscular drum drew attention from the Nettwerk Music clan.

The thick instrumental textures of the very rhythmic "Exposure" are balanced by lovely multi-layered harmonies. A pulsing but dry guitar melody and crisp percussion part in "Run"provide a starker foundation for the artists' individual and harmony vocals that climax in a lovely chorus. The EP's brooding title track highlights the artist's individual vocal talents while equally featuring layered harmonies and a rich blend of upbeat guitar and electronica arrangements.

The two artists contributions blend seamlessly in the five vocally-laden numbers that are perfectly supported by balanced and lush arrangements. We adored the tracks from first listen, our only complaint being the shortage of enough individual tracks to explore the duo's range. That the band came to a commercial EP release only six months after first meeting is a testament to their well developed music abilies. We can't wait to hear more!

 
Speechless Single CD Cover
Image © Tigermoth Records 2007

More Magenta:
Revolutions Review/Interview (2002)
Ynysddu Hotel (2002-2003)
HLC, Rotherham (2003)
Seven | "Broken" (2004)
Interview | Concert Reviews (2004)
"I'm Alive" (2004)
Another Time, Another Place (2004)
Interview | Concert Reviews (2005)
The Gathering DVD (2005)
Home | New York Suite (2006)
slide shows: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

 

(25 March 2007) "Speechless" (Tigermoth Records (UK) CDTMR1, 2007) is Magenta's first release since the successful Home album in early 2006, and marks the debut release of the band's new label.

Clearly the intention is to increase the band's profile, by releasing a slice of short, snappy contemporary pop/rock. Indeed the band have made no secret of their ambitious attempt to chart the song in the UK, and whether they manage this or not, there is little doubt that it will turn a few heads. Yet despite the accessibility of the song itself, there is a distinct link, stylistically, to past single releases like "Broken" and "I'm Alive" and those that appreciate the bands more pop-orientated efforts will certainly enjoy this.

Indeed, the song will be familiar to some, having first seen the light of day on the 2002 Progrock Records sampler credited to Trippa, Christina Booth and Rob Reed's late 90s pop outfit, and the main single edit retains the Trippa version's song structure. The difference lies mainly in the guitars from Martin Rosser and Chris Fry, which underpin the song powerfully, with Daniel Fry's bass also prominent, while Rob Reed's keyboards provide an orchestral counterpoint. The star, though, is Christina, who delivers an astonishingly mobile and soulful vocal performance, freed of the vocal restrictions which Magenta's progressive rock style can sometimes impose.

With the pop song structure raining in the band’s natural versatility, Magenta fans will be very grateful for the Extended mix – a very different version, cunningly reconstructed by Rob Reed. For the first two minutes, the song in largely the same, before suddenly a screaming prog synth solo cuts through the mix, prior to a new vocal / acoustic guitar bridge. This leads the track somewhere else entirely, allowing Chris Fry a slide guitar solo, before a poised piano and lead guitar section gradually drags the piece back towards the main song. This is simply stunning, and has already lead to calls for the band to play this extended version live.

The audio tracks conclude with a beautiful new arrangement of "Anger," as played by the band in their live shows at the end of last year. The piece begins in familiar fashion, with Chris Fry's nylon string introduction combining with Christina's beautiful lead vocal, building gently with the introduction of orchestra and piano, before Martin Rosser's restrained guitar solo. Unlike the version of the song on Seven however, the piece does not end there, and Martin's solo extends, building to a key change and a further solo from Chris, and some beautifully understated synthesiser from Rob. Again, this is beautifully done, and just might now be the definitive version of the song.

The CD also contains a well-produced performance video of the single edit, which is certainly worth seeing, and as the package is likely only to be available for a limited period, with the extended version of Speechless likely never to appear elsewhere, we heartily recommend it.--Stephen Lambe in Cheltenham, England

 
Miles Away CD Cover
Image © Face West Records 2007 
 

(15 July 2007) Raw and edgy, Gina Villalobos serves up an emotive selection of tunes in Miles Away (Face West Records (USA) FW001, 2007). Her alt-country sound continues with her distinctive vocal roughness, intensity and compassion. Likened to Sheryl Crow, Gina's sound stands out in an individualistic way. Her heartfelt songs have a tenderness underneath the tough exterior.

This LA born singer/songwriter grew up around Malibu. Her father was a respected cinematographer and her mother took great interest in music. Her parents later divorced when Gina was eight years old. But, the musical influences continued and Gina would often find her mother playing songs by famous country artists with people like animator/writer Jack Spears, a fixture for years at Disney Studios, Billy Joe Walker, now a leading session guitarist and producer in Nashville, and Don Robertson, who’d written hits for Elvis, Dolly Parton, Glenn Campbell, and others.

Gina learned to play the guitar as well as teaching herself to play the drums. After high school, she moved to Santa Barbara where she tried to find a course of study to no avail. At age twenty, she went to a Rickie Lee Jones concert which became a life changing event for her especially after speaking with Rickie after the show. Gina said that "Music was already the most important thing in my life. It woke me up in the morning and kept me up at night. But from the moment of that concert, even though I still don’t know why, I knew who I was."

She dropped out of school and became a full time musician. She led a band, Liquid Sunshine, for about five years; they released three CDs and worked mainly college gigs along the West Coast. When that ran its course, she started another group, the Mades, and stuck with them until 2001. She then started her solo career because "it was important for me to be in charge of my own destiny." In October 2003, she sustained serious injury to her right eye in an accident. Everything in her life was put on hold for months to come, as she underwent four major surgeries before being told, on Christmas Day, that she would remain forever totally blind in that eye. The effects of this development were profound, enduring, and disturbing. The accident occurred during the time she was recording Rock n' Roll Pony and the desire to complete this album led her back to the studio after numerous months. That album began her transformation into a writer and performer.

"After I lost the vision in my eye, my songs became vessels that led me face-to-face with my inner reality. I believe this enabled me to go places I had not gone before as an artist and to heal in the process. I began to dig really far down into my art. I was looking for something I hadn’t been able to reach prior to that. What I found began to make me feel whole and normal again." The album was a huge success, but dark times continued to plague this artist. Living on the road month after month, performing far from home, she began to feel cut off from the world. Depth perception issues, tunnel vision, retinal flashes, and other consequences of this event forced Gina to suffer disorientation and nausea for nearly two years.

The emotional toll of that existence propelled her towards a new perspective and she began writing the songs for Miles Away. "You could interpret it as saying that I was miles away from myself, though to me I was miles away from anything, from everything, from something. I felt like I was everywhere and nowhere. But something did come out of that - the music. Even now, I have to remind myself every day that there was a silver lining to it all."

Her steadfast quality is evident throughout these ten tracks. Her country rock sound incorporates earthiness, brashness and melodic textures. She wrote nine of the ten tracks, the exception being the reinterpretation of Barry Gibbs cover "If I Can't Have You." Gina sings with her heart on her sleeve in an honest, yet bittersweet way. Her straightforward country rock sound combined with a lyrical reflectiveness establishes an inspirational connection between Gina and her audience.

Miles Away displays Gina Villalobos' edginess, raw roots and catchy country melodies to the delight of her listeners. The music is deep, dark, soulful and reflective. Her life's journey has helped her to bare her soul and talent, creating a tapestry of poetic and well constructed songs.--Audrey Elliot in New York

 
Surrender CD Cover
© Concord Music Group 2007 
 

(28 May 2007) A graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, Jane Monheit’s stunning voice is entirely new to this author. Backed by a series of superbly played soft jazz sounds, Monheit's voice is sultry and gentle, yet technically superb, as she and her band create a laid back atmosphere that will surely entice even the most uninterested listener.

On her sixth album, Surrender (Concord Music Group (USA) CCD30050, 2007), Monheit showcases her smooth and precise vocal delivery first and foremost. The vocals are the number one priority on this album, evidenced right from the start, as "If You Went Away" opens with its bombastic string section, bringing to mind the later work of the immortal Judy Garland. It announces to the listener that you are no longer in a world riddled with war, violence, greed, and indifference, for now you are in a gentler far away place, a place with no worries and few cares. Of particular note is the striking saxophone solo late in the song, it’s the perfect crescendo, adding a dynamic to the song that makes it both beautiful and memorable.

Another powerful addition to the album are the guest appearances. "Rio De Maio" features Ivan Lins and his voice perfectly compliments Monheit's. Their back and forth vocal comes together at just the right time and will surely satisfy any lover of soft and romantic music. The keyboard and production work of the legendary Sergio Mendes graces "So Many Stars," and to have Sergio Mendes appear on your album is one of the biggest stamps of approval a young Jazz artist could receive. The trilogy of guest musicians is rounded out by Toots Thielmans' appearance alongside Monheit on "Caminhos Cruzados," another beautiful moment that is music to the ears of genuine lovers of classy music.

Aside from the invited guests Monheit shines on songs like the vocally impressive "Overjoyed" and the album's other Garland-esque moment, "A Time For Love," which closes the album in the same grand fashion it opened with. The entire collection of songs here really offers something different from today’s mainstream music. The music and lyrics work together in a time honored tradition.

Fans of fine vocal or smooth Jazz music will find a lot to love on Surrender. At times Monheit's work surrounds you like the words of an old friend that you have sorely missed. At other times Monheit surrounds you with all the passion of a lost love. Surrender is an often breathtaking album that anyone who appreciates well produced, well played, and immaculately performed music will find well worth their money.--Mark Fisher in West Virginia

 
Smile, Broadcast Tatoos
Image © Bebek 2007

More Bebek:
Open Eyes (2006)
Interview and Photos (2006)
Artist Reflections and Photos (2005)
Bebek (2005)

Nick and Lynn Michalopoulos
Nick and Lynn Michalopoulos
Image © Bebek 2007

 

(29 July 2007) Smile, Broadcast Tatoos is the new nine-track and almost 30-minute self-released album by Philadephia, PA's Bebek. The group is comprised of Lynn Michalopoulos (vocals), Adam Mizelle (bass), Anthony Matthews (drums, Frank Vasile (guitar) and Nick Michalopoulos (keyboards). Links to our reviews of the band's prior releases, interviews with Lynn and Nick and band photos are found below the new album's cover. The band continue develop strength and audience with live performances in major venues that include the Tin Angel and Theater of the Living Arts (TLA).

Nick told us about the title. "I came up with Smile, Broadcast Tattoos. The songs all talk about big moments in our lives and the scars or marks that these moments have left. Some of the songs deal with our lives as musicians, some of them are personal to individual band members and some dealt with stuff that me and Lynn have experienced as a couple. So that's the Tattoos part of it. The Broadcast comes from the fact that we are talking about all these things, some very private, on this album and the Smile reflects the sense that in some way, putting the music here and performing music that is about you strengthens who you are."

"It doesn't try to erase the negative moments or the feelings you have had in the past, nor does it attempt to truly re-create the great moments, but when I hear the songs, I feel my skin tingle because they elicit a strong emotional and mental response from me."

The new album moves on from Open Eyes with an edgier live sound that keeps Lynn, remarkably, front and center in the mix. Electric guitar is far more prominent across the album's tracks. It opens with Lynn's lead vocal soaring above the rocky guitar-driven texture in "Marching Dolls." The percussive "8 AM" is more richly arranged with vocal harmonies and the contributions of lush and prominent keyboard parts.

Bebek's unique rhythm emerges in "Ahmed," and is reminiscent of the band's earlier releases although more crisply arranged on the new album. "Dust" is a gentle piano-based and bluesy ballad. The first half of the track is unusually sparse for Bebek, with occasional electric guitar and bass added for additional texture. Instrumentals develop further in the last half of the song.

"Hollow" is an upbeat and memorable rock track that clearly demonstrates Lynn's vocal power and the band's instrumental virtuousity. The track "I'm Mine" is well placed in the middle of the album, the vocal hook and harmony vocals perfectly balancing guitar and keyboards with the rhythm section.

"Alarm Clock" is the album's edgy standout track clearly written in Bebek's unique style. Short but progressively styled, Lynn's vocals are complemented by the band's rich and varied arrangements. "Scribble My Sides" is also uniquely Bebek, with soaring vocals evocatively delivered with only sparse harmonies atop keyboard layers offset by guitar riffs. The album concludes with the percussive "What Comes Next?" that builds in sound, icreasing the tempo of Lynn's vocal delivery.

About progress of this record from the last, Nick said, "The album did feel like a natural growth from the last record. I certainly become better and more comfortable with more authentic keyboard instrumentation, but also was able to create thicker more singular sounds on the keyboards. The record has a lot more guitar in it which reflects the important role that our guitarist Frank Vasile has taken on in the band, both musically and as one of the driving forces behind what we do. He and I co-wrote "I'm Mine" and "Scribble My Sides" - actually more specifically, he wrote the music to the songs and I wrote the lyrics."

Bebek's sound has developed nicely since the release of their first and self-titled album. They have drawn attention from audiences expanding from the progressive rock epicenter of North America. True to their unique style, the band has written, recorded and are performing richer arrangements and more memorable songs. While the running times of the individual tracks and the album as a whole could have been extended, Smile, Broadcast Tatoos will delight the band's current fans and new listeners alike.

 
Colors Of The Galaxy CD Cover
Image © electron love theory
jooby music 2006


Gaetana Gravellese Gaetana Gravellese (lead vocals)
[1-5|7-11]
Image © electron love theory
jooby music 2006

Katie Davis
Katie Davis (lead vocals) [6]
Photo © Jen Clark 2006
The Milk Studio

Tiffany DeLeon
Tiffany DeLeon (lead vocals) [12]
Image © Dark Diffusion 2007

ELT Vocalist Not Pictured:
Cielle Kiewit (lead vocals) [13]

 

(04 August 2007) Electron Love Theory is a project of the award winning music of songwriter/producer Jeff Leisawitz. With musical comparisons to artists as diverse as Dido, Morcheeba, Portishead, Everything But The Girl, Frou Frou, Alanis and Gus Gus, the Theory fuses electronica, pop, rock and groove reflects the hope, pain, love and sadness of the modern world. The band's debut self-released album Colors Of The Galaxy (Electron Love Theory/Jooby Music (USA), 2006) is a collection of thirteen electronic pop numbers.

The album includes with vocal contributions made by four individual female artists including, for the most part, the crystalline pop power of Gaetana Gravallese as well as the naturally acoustic Katie Davis (solo album review), soulful sound of Cielle Kiewit and groove, power and range of Tiffany.

The opening electronica-oriented half of the album is beautifully sung by Gaetana Gravellese with an air of melancholy that spreads across the first five tracks. Hope is contrasted by alternate chords and crisp percussion delivered by a robust rhythm section. Gaetana's heartfelt and powerfully soaring lead vocal pierces right through the arrangements. One has to marvel at how the keyboard washes perfectly complement vocal passages and listeners will adore the dynamic range and robust equalization presented in the final mix.

Crafted with pop smart hooks, clever songwriting and heartfelt lyrics, these songs stick in your head and resonate in your heart from the very first spin. Electron Love Theory was recently named Best Independent Electronic Artist in the World' on artistdirect.com by an international audience of fans and music industry types.

Electron Love Theory works with a number of singers, musicians and artists on original songs, instrumental cuts, remixes and other projects. From pop songs with singers Gaetana Gravellese and Katie Davis to the project's work on recordings other than the one reviewed here that include dance remixes with the Fading Collection and Stacie Rose, to numerous TV, film and corporate media credits, the distinctive sound and style of Electron Love Theory draws in new listeners with every spin.

While Colors Of The Galaxy is primarily sung by Gaetana Grallese, whose lovely voice graces nine of the album's thirteen tracks, Katie Davis sings the alternatively tinged track "Stirring Words," her whispy vocals skimming across electronics, powerfully soaring above the lush instrumentals on this one track in the middle of the album.

Gaetana returns in the running order for four more tracks, with vocal lines written in the style of the opening five, perhaps in this half with more reverb. It is indeed like the engineering team have turned things up a notch with the result bringing more evocative and sensual edges to the vocalists lines. And Gaetana turns things up a notch herself likely revealing more of her soul with songs that show more rhythm, especially in "Uptown" and the edges of her vocal range, in "Change Direction," for example.

The album concludes experimenting further with Cielle Kiewitt on "Your Love Is Brining Me Down" and with Tiffany DeLeon on "Come A Little Closer" that ends collection with her raw unbridled power, mixed way atop of the arrangements.

Each singer brings a different sound to the collection. The last two, delivery somewhat more of raw edge to the music of Electron Love Theory. While the album demonstrates some of the diversity of Delierium, it has the consistency of Fauxliage, largely by having the stunning Gaetana Gravellese sing the majority of the vocal leads.

Gaetana's powerful own concluding--and the album title's reference--track "In Your Galaxy" brings Charlotte Evans of the UK band Sleeping Giant clearly to mind. Electron Love Theory are off to a great start. These thirteen tracks have just whet our appetite.

from garageband.com: Electron Love Theory is the music of Seattle-based songwriter/producer Jeff Leisawitz. With the help of vocalist Gaetana Gravelese and a bevy of studio singers, the Theory's latest collection, Colors of the Galaxy, explores the love, hope, pain and sadness of the modern world. By combining dark electronic textures, soaring female vocals and inescapable melodies, Electron Love Theory has won fans worldwide while being compared to such luminaries as Dido, Portishead, Morcheeba, Zero 7, Massive Attack, Everything But The Girl, and Frou Frou.

In 2000, artistdirect.com named Electron Love Theory "Best Independent Electronic Artist in the World" for the music on the self-titled debut album. That disc rhythmically integrates original interviews with real people—a blind man, a heroin addict, a Buddhist mystic—into long form electronic compositions. Since that time, the Theory has landed more than 200 placements in film, tv and multimedia, (including MTV, VH1, Motorola, James Bond promos, HBO, Scrubs, and many others), completed various remix projects, and produced a number of local Seattle indie artists.

With a degree in "creative writing with perspectives from philosophy, religion and psychology", songwriter/producer Jeff Leisawitz is no stranger to the depths and shadows of the human experience. Combined with years of professional listening as a music journalist and an undying love for melody and inner exploration, Colors of the Galaxy ignites listeners with a unique sound that stirs the soul from the very first spin.

 
From Me To You CD Cover
Image © Jeriko Zone 2007

Jeriko Jeriko
Image © Jeriko Zone 2007
 

(03 August 2007) Jeriko was born and raised in New York of European and Native American heritage. Surrounded by a family of musicians and a mother who was a dancer, she started to train and perform by the time she could walk.

High school is where Jeriko started her first band and began to focus on her craft as a songwriter. After graduation, her ambition took her straight to New York City. While studying at The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater, Jeriko began to work on a demo that soon led to an audition for Mariah Carey's label Crave/Sony. Immediately she was signed as the lead singer of the group Jakaranda. The group launched a top ten single in Japan as well as having a gold single on a Disney Soundtrack, The Parent Trap.

The artist realised that this wasn't the kind of music that best represented her, so she quit the group and began to cowrite in Sweden. This is where she met the K-Bros for the first time. In the next two and a half years Jeriko and The K-Bros worked around the clock to produce an album that would stand up to all of their expectations and taste.

The EP From Me To You is the result of thier collaboration. The rocking five tracks on the EP include, "From Me To You," "Happy," "All Thumbs Up," "Writer's Rain" and "Time With A Friend." These are richly produced guitar laced rockers with punch and are graced throughout with Jeriko's powerful mid-range voice. The songs clearly demonstrate the team's range and singer's ability to draw emotions from listeners with upbeat rockers or gentle ballads. Enthusiasts of Patti Smith and Joan Jett will surely be enthralled.

The EP has been released on iTunes. She will also be releasing a full length album in the autumn of 2007. The hit single "From Me To You" has already been added to numerous radio stations and is picking up steam. MTV has licensed the entire album for their catalogue of shows.

"Nothing would leave the study unless we all agreed and loved it." Plenty of blood, sweat and tears went into this album. Jeriko and the K-Bros found their sound with an edgy pop/rock style tied in with lyrics that were done with wit and a simle. With a radio friendly voice and a style that's undeniably intoxicating, Jerko has what it takes to go straight to the top. Let's have the full album already.

 
» return to top «
last updated on:                   0.00349 seconds to generate