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Life Stories CD Cover
Image Tiger Dragon 2001 

(30 December 2001) The first album by Tiger Dragon (Hot Town Studios (UK) HTR-106, 2001) entitled Life Stories is a 14-track collection of folky rock tunes by the South Wales trio of Anne-Marie Helder, Darren Beale and Chris Woodman. We met Anne-Marie during a backing vocal engagement with Karnataka (review) and note that she's not only a good vocalist but also a strong multi-instrumentalist specialising on flute but also playing acoustic guitar and percussion. Vocal duties on the album are also performed by Chris and Darren.

We were immediately drawn to Anne-Marie's vocal work. Completely committed to the craft, she's got a wide range and lots of power that will strike the listener from the album's opening track, "Frozen Air," however, her backing vocal parts sung on the male-dominated tracks are equally stunning. In Wondrous Stories Martin Hudson wrote, "The songs are moody and of the sort that can paint a picture of a seascape or a landscape or a life setting and with such basic instrumetality the listening is never stressful and mostly delicate to the ears."

While an occasional electric guitar riff can be heard, the material is clearly dominated by acoustic guitar and Anne-Marie's flute, which works extremely well within the group's material. The trio's harmonies are enjoyable, but we most appreciated Anne-Marie's soaring vocal excursions and flute solos. Electronic instrumentation flute parts blend with vocal harmonies in the jazzy number "Nadir."

We appreciated Anne-Marie's evocative, powerful and wide ranging vocal in the acoustic ballads "Jackal Of The Morning" and the incredibly stunning "Ascension." One of the album's standout tracks is "Dead And Gone." Although the vocal is led by Chris, Anne-Marie's soaring backing vocal and lovely flute excursions are just tremendous, adding significant dimension to the number. "Tigerdragon" is an upbeat light rock number that features lovely acoustic instrumental and vocal layers that bring the album to a tremendous conclusion.

Tiger Dragon's broad selection of song styles, clean acoustic arrangements, lovely flute excursions and sweetly sung female vocals will certainly draw Musical Discoveries' readers to Tiger Dragon's first album. Further details on the band and ordering information is presented on the group's website. A lovely first album, with great musicianship, it is a very nice listen!

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