(03 February 2008) Shauna Burns' new album is entitled The Moon and the Fire Circle (Red Rock Music (USA) RRM7003, 2008). It follows the Nevada-base artist's highly acclaimed debut album Every Thought (2005) and equally well received EP Desert Tunes (2006). Shauna's new fourteen-track collection takes stylistic diversion from the artist's earlier recordings. Packaged even more extravagantly than Desert Tunes, the trifold digi-pak includes a well-produced booklet with lovely photos of the artist and lyrics for all of the songs.
Listeners will immediately identify growth in Shauna's material in the instrumental arrangements. No longer does she sing exclusively alone atop piano, although the songs "Failed You" and "Out" are much in this style. The recording quality is so accurate in these songs that careful listeners will hear the pedals of the piano.
Additional strings, electric guitar, bass and percussion round out the tunes. Listeners will note layered vocal harmonies on the new record. And Shauna's singing is more expressive, lilting gently continuing to draw allusions to Celtic artists. The extended notes in her vocal lines are most reminiscent of Rachel Jones of Karnataka. This change in style is dramatic enough to cause those familiar with Shauna's earlier work to stand up and take notice. But it works.
The Moon and the Fire Circle is comprised of different song styles that range from heartfelt piano accompanied ballads to more richly arranged upbeat and pop numbers. Production quality continues to be excellent although a number of the tracks may have more reverb than necessary for Shauna's ethereal vocal textures. Powerful songwriting, enchanting piano, vocal and strong percussion are delicately mixed with flavorful guitar, harp and cello to create a perfect sound.
The album opens with the dramatic track "Bloom," which so perfectly illustrates the richness of this album's instrumental arrangements. Songs build and contrast until reaching the crescendo in album standout "Around You" is a testament to Shauna's solid songwriting and the production quality of this new project. We were not only impressed with the arrangement but the rich vocal harmonies and the tremendous hook evident in this fine track. The video available at the artist's website is equally stunning.
The album doesn't drift far from singer songwriter territory and has an excellent running time of 59 minutes that offers listeners an extended experience with the artist's work. The album will certainly appeal to fans of Tori Amos, Kate Bush and Sarah McLachlan. But the arrangements and vocal excursions on this album will draw in fans of Loreena McKennitt even moreso, for example in the stunning ballads, "The Carribean Sea" and "Magic."
Listeners will hear tremendous vocal harmonies in "Comet" and the lush string- and powerful guitar-based arrangements beneath the soaring vocal lines in "Chamber." The rocking chorus of "Chamber" is especially well structured effectively joining the piano and guitar parts with layers of vocal work. The delicate yet percussive piano in "Starfish" shows even further growth in Shauna's playing and songwriting.
Shauna Burns is certain to expand her audience with The Moon and the Fire Circle. The individual tracks can be streamed at Shauna's website. This stunning collection
is a thoughtful deviation from her prior work that demonstrates artistic growth and attention to details that will bring her new fans worldwide.