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Into The West CD Cover
click image to visit Yulia's website
image © Sony BMG Music Ent 2004


Yulia MacLean
Image © Oikos Music Ltd 2008

 

(22 October 2008) Russian-born New Zealand classical crossover singer Yulia's debut released in 2004 is called Into The West (Columbia (New Zealand) 5187582000, 2004 ). This gifted twenty-two year old has a lovely contralto voice that has wonderful maturity and dulcit tones. She has only learned the English language in 2002 so there is a distinct Russian accent in the delivery of her lyrics although unobtrusive. Yulia sings fluently in six languages; English, Russian, French, Italian, Spanish and Maori. Sadly both of Yulia's albums were deleted by Sony BMG New Zealand, however, the artist's management is seeking to reissue them as soon as a deal with their former label can be established.

Born in Volgograd, Russia in 1986, Yulia moved to New Zealand in 2002 and quickly adapted to life in her new country. She graduated from high school and immediately signed a recording deal with Sony Music New Zealand. Gray Bartlett, co-director and owner of the Auckland-based promotion company Pacific Entertainment Limited, signed her to a six year worldwide sole agency deal but was ended early by Yulia and she was managed temporarily by Michael Glading, the previous head of Sony NZ. In 2007 Yulia met Glyn MacLean, 17 years her senior, director and owner of Oikos Music Group and signed to a management and music publishing deal. In February 2008, Yulia married Glyn. She was the lead singer in a pop duo, the MacLeaNZ, with her husband.

Into The West was released in 2004 to much acclaim. She was awarded New Zealand’s "Best Female Vocalist" at the 2005 New Zealand Music Awards (Pop, Folk, Classical). She displays her wonderful versatility in the various music genres. She easily flows from classical to pop to folk music without a hitch. Yulia is currently writing songs for her third album and an inspirational book. She aims to follow up on the commercial success of her first two albums with the release of her third album and her first book for either Christmas 2008 or Mothers Day 2009.

Into The West is a stunning debut album which combines her favorite genres of pop, classical and folk music. The opening track "Into the West" features Yulia's gorgeous, soaring vocals that elate the senses. She has a soulful depth to her music that is spectacular. A standout track is the delightly "Scarborough Fair" which brings to mind a sense of the renaissance era. She exudes clarity of sound in this inspiring track. "Angel," a cover from Sarah McLachlan, is performed simply and beautifully, putting Yulia's own touch on this lovely song. "The Prayer" opens with wonderful orchestration and segues into the tender and striking operatic aria that she performs so stunningly.

"L'Hymne A L'Amour" is a lovely track that could be part of a Broadway production. She flip-flops back and forth between languages with wonderful ease. She follows up with a traditional New Zealand lamentation in the Maori language called "Hoki Hoki Tonu Mai." She sings this powerful tune with grace and dignity in describing the lament of young Maori women whose husbands and lovers were lost in battle during World War I.

Yulia can be likened to Hayley Westenra especially in "Softly Whispering I Love You." These two young singers have a wonderful grace and exquisite tone which must be a special import from New Zealand these days. Yulia has a more pop sound in "I Go To Sleep" and the musical accompaniment appeals in a whimsical way. The famed Jacques Brel tune, "If You Go Away," is performed with a breathy and whispered tenderness. There is an almost yearning to the beginning of this song, and then Yulia breaks out with gorgeous, simple vocals that are quite poignant.

Another lovely tune is "One Day I'll Fly Away." Yulia creates a dreamy atmosphere with her precise and delightful melody. The song ascends to the clouds and then to the heavens with her beautiful sound. Handel's more popularly known "Largo" is performed here as "Ombra Mai Fu." Her rendition of this famous aria is quite majestic and the tempo is more upbeat than Handel's original. She certainly does this song justice in her version.

Of course Yulia goes back to her roots with her native tongue in "Russia." Her rich contralto makes this track a highlight of the album. She sings with passion and conviction. Yulia follows this song with "Bailero" which Sarah Brightman has performed on Eden and Classics. Yulia puts her own spin on this traditional piece from the Songs of the Auvergne. She sings with beautiful simplicity. She closes out this marvelous CD with the traditional Russian song "Otchi Tchornia (Black Eyes)" that Liberace was well known for performing. The lyrics mean "Eyes of ecstacy, Always haunting me, Always taunting me, With your mystery, Tell me tenderly, You belong to me, For eternity, Dark eyes, talk to me." One certainly gets the impression of haunting and taunting in this final track, and Yulia executes this song with great aplomb. The music enraptures the listener into imagining they are on the banks of the Volga being serenaded by their Russian comrades.

Yulia does not fail to please with Into The West. Hints of Hayley Westenra and Sarah Brightman come into play, but Yulia has a terrific contralto voice that is exquisite. In 2005, Yulia was awarded "Best Female Vocalist" and "Highest Selling Album of the Year" for Into The West in New Zealand. Those accolades are well deserved.

 
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