(26 November 2000) The new album by The Vards is entitled
A Time Of Change (Universal Music (Ireland), 2000). An earlier
album entitled Heavenly (Coumbia/Sony (UK) 68837, 1999-2000)
featured all three sisters (Wendy, Lisa, Cathy) and and included
seventeen well-known classically oriented vocal tracks. The latest
album features performances by Wendy and Lisa. Cathy's solo
album should be reviewed here soon. The Vards' album appears to
be available exclusively in Ireland at this time, but we expect it to
be released in other territories as interest in the music grows.
Like Heavenly, the album offers a selection of
tunes originally performed by other artists. The Vards provide wonderful
interpretations of each one and breathe new life into former contemporary
classics. The album opens with their interpretation of The Beatles'
"In My Life" blending some traditional Irish instrumentation with lovely
vocal harmonies. The sensitive French ballad with English interpreation
by Tim Rice "The Second Time" is as rich vocally as it is instrumentally.
"Song Of Bernadette" features one of The Vards singing the solo lead
supported by piano and light orchestral instrumentation and the other
joining during the chorus in a lovely harmony part. Traditional Irish
instrumentation accompanies a sensitively sung lead vocal and lovely
harmonies in the Vards interpretation of "Fields Of Gold."
The album's stand-out title track, "A Time Of Change,"
blends modern Irish arrangements with Abba-esque harmonies and
accessibility. The vocal harmonies and string arrangements are superb.
It is easy to understand why the single featuring the track backed
with "The Water Is Wide" did very well commercially in Ireland
recently. The original version of the track by Laura Powers resides
on the artist's debut album. Her followup will be reviewed here
soon. The Vards' duet version of "Nella Fantasia" is a brilliant
contrast to the solo version recorded by Sarah Brightman on Eden.
Vocally lush, instrumentals are perfectly subdued.
The sensitivity and depth of The Vards' talent is perfectly
illustrated in their interpretation of Alan Parsons' classic "Old And
Wise"; strings and guitar during the instrumental bridge are especially
notable. "Back When We Were Beautiful" is a sensually sung solo ballad
performed very much in an Andrea Corr style. Light instrumentation
supports a lovely mid-register lead vocal part. Vocal harmonies
dominate the lovely interpretation of "The Water Is Wide" performed a
capella while contemporary arrangements underscore them in the
lovely track "Wonder Child." The album closes with The Vards'
collaboration with with Shane Filan in the upbeat country-Irish
crossover version of the theme from the motion picture Babe
entitled "If I Had Words." Layers of male vocals perfectly compliment
The Vards' harmonies.
The Vards' latest album A Time Of Change is
comprised of lovely interpreation of familiar tracks that illustrates
the sisters' range and vocal prowess. Certain to appeal female vocal
enthusiasts, this one is clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey and
is a must listen!