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State Of Grace II CD Cover
Image BMG Music 2003

Image Lisbeth Scott 2000

(22 November 2003) Paul Schwartz, the man who brought us Aria, Revolution (review), Aria 2 (review), State of Grace (review), and the Paul Schwartz Project Earthbound (review), albums, has returned with his latest classical crossover album State of Grace II: Turning to Peace (Windham Hill (USA), 82876-53017-2, 2003).

Without doubt, State of Grace II proves to be Paul Schwartz's most affecting and beautiful release to date. Paul Schwartz once again teams up with stunning vocalist Lisbeth Scott (Dove review, website) who imbues the music with incredible depth and emotion. Legendary guitarist Carlos Santana also makes an appearance. The Crouch End Festival Chorus lend their voices to create an expansive and rich backdrop for the music.

Largely focusing on latin texts, the songs on State of Grace II represent expressions of faith, hope, sorrow and love. Musically, the material features ethereal orchestration, ambient downtempo beats and lovely choral sections. Songs like the breathtaking and divine "Turning to Peace," "Fear Not," and "Let Me" allow solo vocalist Lisbeth Scott to really shine. Her highly acclaimed vocals are perfectly fit to these contemplative piano and string pieces.

Other songs like the gorgeous "Suscepit Israel" are more cinematic in nature. The soaring and angelic strings, harp and choral singing combine in a way that is truly majestic. One of the best tracks, "Et Misericordia" is a variation on "Veni Redemptor Genitum" and "Angelica," which are featured on the first State of Grace album. The harmony vocals combined with softly flowing violins and cellos are beautifully chilling.

Some of the tracks like "Quia Respexit" and "Magnificat"roam into the land of Ibiza-chill with slight flavorings of jazz and trip-hop. In sum, State of Grace II is actually a better album than its predecessor. Paul Schwartz seems to be getting better and better as a composer and his melodies are more engaging than ever. Lisbeth Scott gives a heartfelt and sincere performance, and the Crouch End Festival Chorus sound incredible. State of Grace II is a perfect blend of old and new sounds and deserves a broad audience.--Justin Elswick

Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, State Of Grace II is a must listen!

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