(13 April 2001) Cathy Vard was the first to break away from the
Irish trio called The Vard Sisters who released an album of seventeen classical
and secular arias entitled Heavenly in the mid-1990s. Her debut solo album
is entitled Follow Your Heart (Sony Music Entertainment / Columbia (UK)
492792.2, 1998). Heavenly has subsequently been reissued in the Sony
mid-price range and continues to be available from retail and online sources.
The other two sisters--Wendy and Lisa--released their album A Time Of
Change in 2000 (review). Featuring these
attractive sisters' stunningly crystalline vocals, all three albums have had
widespread critical acclaim. Wendy and Lisa--The Vards--are represented by
the well known Dublin agency run by Pat Egan.
Cathy Vard's album is comprised of thirteen relatively well-known
tracks. Produced by Bill Somerville-Large, arrangements almost exclusively by
John Drummond have been carefully constructed to provide a quiet foundation
for Cathy's lovely voice. Celtic roots come through in the opening "Lullaby"
sweetly sung over a light instrumental. Also appearing on The Vards' album,
Cathy's version of "The Second Time" is more delicately sung, as one would
expect from a solo project.
The West End sounding arrangements of Paul Simon's 1968 tunes
"Old Friends" and "Bookends" perfectly suit Cathy's voice. Cathy's version
of the timeless Dvorak hymn "Going Home" was arranged by Michael Casey.
With the orchestra in the background throughout, Cathy's soaring vocals,
backed by Catriona Walsh and Cathy Corcoran, carry the melody.
The second half of the album blends classical arrangements with Irish
themes. Des Cave's narration perfectly compliments Cathy's vocal part in
"The Stolen Child" a tune written by Mike Scott with words by W. B. Yeats.
Liam Lawton provides a Celtic edge to the album in "The Clouds Veil,"
"Seol" apparently adapted from the Riverdance tune, "Paidir na
Trinoide" and "A World Within." Cathy's classical vocal training
rings through in every note, especially during the sustains in the
Layers of crystalline vocals--Cathy's lead and the backing
singers' harmonies--dominate the classical ballad "The Source" written by
Brendan Graham. Cathy's version of a traditional air entitled "Raglan
Road," arranged by John Drummond is delicately and sensually sung over a
very light piano and string backdrop. Orchestrally richer than many of
the tracks that precede it, the tender track, "A World Within" closes the
Follow Your Heart is a definitive female vocals album.
Cathy Vard's crystalline voice perfectly suits the selection of tracks
included while instrumentals have been suitably arranged never to overshadow
the vocal work but effectively backing the lead and harmony parts. Certainly
worth a journey, this album--like the one by her sisters--is clearly a