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Image © 2000
Streamline Music Ltd
(23 November 2000) The debut album from Julienne Taylor
is entitled Racing The Clouds Home (Virgin Music (UK) CDV2931, 2000)
and two singles have already been released featuring tracks from the album
which blends traditional with
contemporary and almost-pop sensibilities. Julienne is the latest singing
sensation from Scotland. Supported by guest musicians—Gordon Campbell,
Richie Harrison, Rab Howat, Finlay MacDonald, Dougie Pinckock, Chris
Stout and Stuart Wood—the album is a certain to further her international
Racing The Clouds Home opens with Julienne's stunning
a capella opening to the track "Rose of Sweethay." Keys accompany the
latter half of the song, sung sensitively introducing listeners to the
whispiness of Julienne's voice. A wonderful cover of the Fleetwood Mac
classic "Second Hand News" backed with a blend of traditional Celtic and
contemporary accompaniment immediately broadens the appeal of Julienne's
vocal talent to a wider audience; it is no wonder why the label elected
to feature this track as the album's first single. The whistle part
perfectly compliments the vocal layers in the song's choruses.
"Just Let Me Be" is gentle country style ballad accompanied
acoustically with layers of heavenly vocals adding texture to the chorus.
The country sounds are further emphasized in the track "Woolball" where
Julienne's lead is perfectly offset by the extensive backing vocal harmonies.
"I Will Protect You" continues in a similar vein but is stronger acoustically
both with traditional and contemporary sounds supporting Julienne's delicate
vocal layers. One is immediately reminded of The Corrs' arrangements in
the upbeat and highly accessible Celtic crossover track "Dreamworld"
written by Stuart Wood who also shares the album's production credit
with Gordon Campbell and Julienne Taylor. Julienne's vocals are generally
whispier and more sensually sung.
"I Would Love You" is a stand-out track on the album. Whispy
lead vocals are supported by light mainly acoustic arrangements. Yet harmony
vocals and Celtic instrument arrangements build towards the chorus
to tremendous power as each crescendo is reached. Julienne's interpretation
of "Caledonia" is performed in a similar light acoustic style. "Land Far
Away" is a traditional-based hymn with new arrangements by the production
team. With extremely light instrumentals, Julienne's voice soars heavenly
and floats well above the keyboards, and demonstrates the artist's
vocal virtuosity. A stunning cover of "I Burn For You" features
soaring whispy lead vocals while traditional instrumentals in the
bridge and lovely harmonies add texture in the chorus.
Clearly "Tell Me Where You're Going" is the most pop-oriented
number on the album. Upbeat and accessible, it blends contemporary with
Celtic instrumentation and crystalline lead and harmony vocals. The album
concludes with "What Am I Gonna Do?", a signature Julienne Taylor and
Gordon Campbell track. Julienne's whispy vocals soar above further
supporting layers and are joined by light acoustic arrangements that
build in the chorus.
Julienne Taylor's Racing The Clouds Home is a
stunning debut album from a rapidly rising Scottish singer and songwriter.
Certain to please fans of All About Eve, The Corrs and even Enya, this
twelve track is certain to widespread commercial success and critical
acclaim. While currently only available in the European Community
as a domestic product, we're certain it will find equivalent success
in other territories. There are soundbites available at the artist's
website that should be explored further.
Order your copy from amazon.com
here. Certainly worth a trans-Atlantic
journey, Julienne Taylor's new album is a must listen!
Image © 2000
EMI Records Ltd
More Naimee Coleman:
Bring Down The Moon (2001)
Image © 2001 EMI Records Ltd
(23 November 2000) Naimee Coleman's second album is
entitled Bring Down The Moon. Due out in early 2001 on Chrysalis,
Musical Discoveries editors were provided with a five track sampler
to whet our appetite for her new release. Naimee's debut album
Silver Wrists (Chrysalis Records (UK) CD SIL1, 1997) received
critical acclaim internationally as well as in one of the first reviews
published at Musical Discoveries. Anyone interested even remotely in
The Corrs' music will be enthralled with Naimee's work.
The success of that album in Ireland elicited invitations for Naimee
to perform with the likes of Donal Lunny and Sinead O'Connor and to co-wrte
with songwriters in Nashville, and in Miles Copeland's castle retreat in
the South of France. Other writers involved included Go-Go girl Jane
Wiedlin, Paul Brady and former Police drummer and movie soundtrack
favourite Stewart Copeland. Some of the results of these songwriter
brainstorming sessions will be found on the forthcoming album. It was
produced by Ian Stanley. The first single from the album is Naimee's
interpretation of The Cure classic "Love Song," released in November
and following on from her top five single success with "Ordinary
World," featuring Aurora.
Our five-track album sampler from Bring Down The Moon
(Chrysalis (UK) naimeedj001, 2000), for promotional use only, begins with
"Love Song." While the lyrics are almost spoken in spots of this
melancholy song, rich vocal harmonies in the chorus are unmistakably
Naimee Coleman. Instrumentals are sparse but effectively support
the lovely lead vocal part. "Sugar Me" is a highly accessible ballad
with crisp percussion and contemporary instrumentation supporting
Naimee's evocative lead and backing vocals. The pop-oriented upbeat
"My Star" demonstrates a strong resemblence to the music of The Corrs.
Naimee's lead vocals soar while her backing vocal arrangements blend
with contemporary and traditional instrumentals, highlighted in a
Especially rich instrumental arrangements support
layers of stunning vocals in the lightly rocking track "Standing
Strong." Contrasts include a stunning vocal lead and in the verses
and lovely harmonies in chorus that highlighted string arrangements.
The album's title track, "Bring Down The Moon," is a dynamically
arranged piece moving back and forth between a sensitive ballad and
richly arranged pop-oriented track. The power, range and depth of
Naimee's vocal talent rises above the well-played and -arranged
instrumentals and carries the track.
Our patient wait for Naimee's follow up to Silver
Wrists is quickly coming to an end. The five-track album sampler
reveals significant artistic development along a line parallel with
The Corrs. While Irish roots remain the artist's drive towards a
contemporary sound is equally evident.
You can order Naimee Coleman's self-titled album from amazon.com
Stay tuned to Musical
Discoveries for our full album review and exclusive interview
with the artist. Naimee's sampler is certainly indicative that
the new ablum will be worth a trans-Atlantic journey-a must listen.
Image © 2000
Universal Music (Ireland)
A Time Of Change (Single)
Image © 2000
Universal Music (Ireland)
(26 November 2000) The new album by The Vards is entitled
A Time Of Change (Universal Music (Ireland), 2000). An earlier
album entitled Heavenly (Coumbia/Sony (UK) 68837, 1999-2000)
featured all three sisters (Wendy, Lisa, Cathy) and and included
seventeen well-known classically oriented vocal tracks. The latest
album features performances by Wendy and Lisa. Cathy's solo
album should be reviewed here soon. The Vards' album appears to
be available exclusively in Ireland at this time, but we expect it to
be released in other territories as interest in the music grows.
Like Heavenly, the album offers a selection of
tunes originally performed by other artists. The Vards provide wonderful
interpretations of each one and breathe new life into former contemporary
classics. The album opens with their interpretation of The Beatles'
"In My Life" blending some traditional Irish instrumentation with lovely
vocal harmonies. The sensitive French ballad with English interpreation
by Tim Rice "The Second Time" is as rich vocally as it is instrumentally.
"Song Of Bernadette" features one of The Vards singing the solo lead
supported by piano and light orchestral instrumentation and the other
joining during the chorus in a lovely harmony part. Traditional Irish
instrumentation accompanies a sensitively sung lead vocal and lovely
harmonies in the Vards interpretation of "Fields Of Gold."
The album's stand-out title track, "A Time Of Change,"
blends modern Irish arrangements with Abba-esque harmonies and
accessibility. The vocal harmonies and string arrangements are superb.
It is easy to understand why the single featuring the track backed
with "The Water Is Wide" did very well commercially in Ireland
recently. The original version of the track by Laura Powers resides
on the artist's debut album. Her followup will be reviewed here
soon. The Vards' duet version of "Nella Fantasia" is a brilliant
contrast to the solo version recorded by Sarah Brightman on Eden.
Vocally lush, instrumentals are perfectly subdued.
The sensitivity and depth of The Vards' talent is perfectly
illustrated in their interpretation of Alan Parsons' classic "Old And
Wise"; strings and guitar during the instrumental bridge are especially
notable. "Back When We Were Beautiful" is a sensually sung solo ballad
performed very much in an Andrea Corr style. Light instrumentation
supports a lovely mid-register lead vocal part. Vocal harmonies
dominate the lovely interpretation of "The Water Is Wide" performed a
capella while contemporary arrangements underscore them in the
lovely track "Wonder Child." The album closes with The Vards'
collaboration with with Shane Filan in the upbeat country-Irish
crossover version of the theme from the motion picture Babe
entitled "If I Had Words." Layers of male vocals perfectly compliment
The Vards' harmonies.
The Vards' latest album A Time Of Change is
comprised of lovely interpreation of familiar tracks that illustrates
the sisters' range and vocal prowess. Certain to appeal female vocal
enthusiasts, this one is clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey and
is a must listen!
Image © 2000
Image © 2000
(09 Decenber 2000) The third album from Grammy Award winning vocalist
Darlene Koldenhoven is entitled Heavenly Peace (TimeArt Recordings (USA)
D10993, 2000). Ten well arranged tracks feature the artist's five octave
vocal range and inspired by Christian classics and original numbers suit
the holiday season and beyond.
Darlene's earlier releases include the stunning spiritual pop crossover
entitled Keys To The World (TimeArt Recordings (USA) D10901, 1993) and
Free To Serve (TimeArt Recordings (USA) D10902, 1996) featuring the
CRC Choirs and Friends. She is also well known as the soloist that performed
"Aria" on Yanni's Live at the Acropolis video and finally appeared on
one of his best-of albums after popular demand dictated some time later.
Heavenly Peace is not just another Christmas music album.
The full range of the artist's experience and classical training is evident in
the dynamic and creative arrangements of timeless holiday pieces. Vocal
excursions soar spanning Darlene's entire range and fully illustrate the range
and virtuosity of her performing talents. Keen listeners will hear operatic,
pop and theatrical styles within the album's arrangements. Notable for a
holiday music album, many of the selections are original compositions.
An operatic performance of the traditional "God Rest Ye Merry
Gentlemen" opens the album with a lovely orchestral arrangement featuring
Karen Briggs on violin with Darlene's voice immediately soaring to join the
melody. The variation in styles on the album becomes evident instantly
with the Middle Eastern flavour of Darlene's "Gabriel to Mary, Weaping,"
and thinking of Scheherazade (the musical) it is illustrative of
her theatrical singing style. And while performed primarily in a
theatrical style, "Joseph's Question" also has soaring operatic elements.
Harmony vocals are subdued but provide an excellent supporting texture to
Performed largely as a duet with herself, the old English
ballad "The Star to The Stable" is an evocatively sung piece finely
arranged with lovely instrumental parts supporting the vocal passages.
We most enjoyed "Angels Pastorale," a lovely instrumental featuring a
whistle melody textured with Darlene's vocalise. The stunning five
part a capella "Angels We Have Heard on High" is a heartfelt gospel tune
blending traditional elements in a unique arrangement. The crystalline
purity of Darlene's voice rings in her performance of the Howells/Luther
"Balulalow" (O My Deir Hert). Our readers will be instantly reminded of
Charlotte Church's voice in this performance.
While Darlene's debut album was most reminscent of Miriam
Stockley's work in a number of the tracks, this stylistic similarity
vanished from her work with the exception of her modern interpretation
and heavily layered version of "Silent Night" which is clearly a standout
track on Heavenly Peace. Soaring excursions further illustrate
the extent of Darlene's range in her vocalise performance of "Emmanuel."
The album closes with a most stunning and standout performance of
Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Pie Jesu" arranged by Alex Wurman far surpassing
those by Sarah Brightman and Charlotte Church who have both released it
previously. The contemporary arrangement breathes refreshing new life
into the modern day classic and Darlene's voice rings with crystalline
clarity. Simply stunning.
Heavenly Peace is a lovely blend of traditional
and modern holiday music, with wonderful instrumental arrangements
supporting the artist's stellar vocal performances. Unique arrangements
of "Silent Night" and "Emmanuel" as well as "Pie Jesu" make this album
one for all seasons. Soundbites are available at the artist's website
(click on album cover to visit).
You can read further reviews and order the album from amazon.com
As with the artist's earlier albums, Darlene
Koldenhoven's Heavenly Peace is worthy of much further
investigation and is a must listen!
Image © 2000
Pacific Garden (Japan)
Eri Sugai (Vocals)
Image © 2000
photo courtesy Narumi Arai
(09 December 2000) Kazumasa Yoshioka and Eri Sugai co-produced
the album Air (Pacific Garden (Japan) CHCB-30003), 2000) under the
monniker Stella Mirus. Eri told us, "this is not an Asian-style CD, I made
it by order to make classic music by Mr Yoshioka. That is my style too."
Enthusiasts of music by Miriam Stockley, Enya, Adiemus and Eri Sugai's
album Mai (review) are certain to
enjoy this album as well. One track is even reminscent of work by
the legendary Julee Cruise.
Eri Sugai has created stunning vocal arrangements that
perfectly compliment her crystalline voice for the album's nine tracks,
of which five trace back to classical pieces by Bach, Satie, Beethoven
Faure and Mussorgsky. We were instantly reminded of Adiemus, Enya and
Annie Haslam's Still Live from first listen. The album opens
with it's title track "Air" derived from a piece by Bach. Gently flowing
vocal layers are supported by light keyboard accompaniment.
Sugai's lovely interpretation of Erik Satie's classic
"Gymnopedie No. 1" is almost entirely vocalise—the keyboard is
especially light and perfectly compliments her voice. Annie Haslam's
"Shine" on her 1985 Still Life is an interesting lyrical
alternative and worth a journey for interested readers. Eri Sugai's
vocal arrangement of "Sonata for Klavier Nr. 14" (Beethoven) is most
reminiscent of the whispy style of Julee Cruise and is accompanied
by Yoshioka's lovely keyboard-created string part.
By stark contrast to the classically derived numbers
on the album is a certain favourite to Enya's fans called "In
Your Arms." String passages, vocal arrangements, keyboards and
the song structure itself creates an instant allusion to Enya's
latest album A Day Without Rain
"Aquamarin" is an atmospheric number, with both evocative vocals
and rapid range traversing keyboard excursions, is equally
reminiscent of Enya's work. The similarities are lovely and Eri
Sugai's voice suits the style extremely well.
Eri Sugai's crystalline vocal ability shines through
in the a capella arrangements of "Stella." Harmony layers support
the lead vocal layers and create a stunning accompaniment during
the piece performed very much in the style created on her Mai
album. The style continues into the introduction to the artists'
interpretation of Faure's "Siciliania-Pel Leas Et Melisande Op. 80."
Keyboards join and support the lead and backing harmonies as the
almost epic length track develops. The album's final classical
re-arrangement begins with a lovely multi-tracked a capella
rendition of a portion of Mussogsky's Pictures at an
Exhibition. Midway through the track the vocals quickly pick
up pace and additional layers and orchestral instantly recognisable
as an Adiemus style emerge.
Styles blend in the album's closing epic "Silent Love."
The keyboard arrangement is especially notable and full of classically
derived allusions. Within the vocal passages, listeners will hear
styles made famous by Enya, Julee Cruise, a bit of Adiemus and the
blend will leave a lovely impression of this tremendous album. Clearly
Eri Sugai is a stunning vocal talent and one that we hope to hear a
lot more of in the coming months and years. There are four lovely
soundbites at the label's website (click on album cover to enter).
Air is worth extensive exploration and worthy of a
trans-Atlantic (or trans-Pacific) journey, it is
certainly a must listen! Available exclusively
as an import, order your copy today.
Image © 2000
River Road Entertainment
(11 December 2000) While her earlier albums date back to 1976, Jane
Olivor's first new album in eighteen years is an eleven track collection entitled
Love Decides (Varese Sarabande (USA) 302 066 198 2, 2000). The album was
produced by Steve A Addabo, whose guitar parts grace all but one of the selections.
While there are tww Olivor originals, "However Dark The Night" and "In The Moment,"
written by Olivor with Rede and Addabbo respectively, the majority of the tracks
are covers of tunes written by others. October Project's Marina Belica provides
backing vocals to "Night Song," Olivor's interpretation of "Bury My Lovely" and
"In The Moment."
Jane Olivor's singing naturally dominates the album. She says,
"This is my first album in 18 years and it's finally here. I'm thrilled to be
able to share it with all of my fans and I am so grateful for your loyalty and
love. I think you with all my heart. I excitedly welcome new fans who I hope
will become old friends." The album effectively balances uptempo, midtempo and
slowly sung heartfelt ballads.
While "Warm," title track "Love Decides" and "Half Heaven, Half
Heartache" provide a lovely introduction to the artist's repertoire, the
uptempo 1997 Olivor / Rede track "However Dark The Night" is the first truly
standout track on the album. Jane sings in a mid- to low-register and, while
soaring vocal excursions do occur, she doesn't go into the stratosphere. Her
vocal work is consistently evocative, sensual with a mature emotional delivery
outweighing the need for a vast range. "However Dark The Night" has a lovely
alternative rock arrangement and Marina Belica's backing vocals add a lovely
texture to the choruses. Jane's emotional vocal delivery and both sax and
guitar solos during the instrumental bridge is highly notable.
Jane Olivor's interpretation of the Emil Adler/Julie Flanders
track "Bury My Lovely" originally performed by Mary Fahl and Marina Belica
with October Project on the band's debut album is the standout track
on the album. Vocally stunning in every respect, Steve Gabour's keyboard
arrangement and guitars by Steve Addabbo give the cover a truly unique,
somewhat Celtic touch. While backing vocal work by Marina Belica and Emil
Adler in Olivor's interpretation of the song adds a lovely texture, the
lead vocal is most evocative and sensual, adding a new dimension to this
October Project classic. Jane's soaring lead in the chorus while sung
lower is also reminscent of Karnataka's Rachel Jones and further justifies
their comparison made to October Project made by our readers.
Production quality perfectly compliments vocal performance
and instrumental arrangements in the heartfelt ballads "I Had This Man"
and "I Believe In You." The uptempo "In The Moment" is a more highly
accessible song with lovely multi-tracked backing harmony vocals adding
texture most effectively. "Colors of the Wind" is a theatrical style
ballad and most effectively illutrates Jane Olivor's ability to transmit
an emotional message within her singing. The album concludes with the
lightly accompanied ballad "I'll Be There" further illustrating the
singer's sensitive delivery.
Clearly Jane Olivor's Love Decides is a wonderfully produced
return to the mainstream album for this extremely talented singer songwriter.
Standout tracks on the album are balanced with emotively sung ballads and
demonstrate the range and depth of the artist. You can find other albums by
Jane Olivor, and read reviews, hear soundbites and order the album from amazon.com
here. October Project enthusiasts will be delighted to hear Jane's interpretation
of the classic "Bury My Lovely,"
and while the entire album is excellent, this
one track will certainly justify its purchase. Worth a journey and lots of
further exploration, the album is a very nice listen!
Image © 1999
(11 December 2000) Recommended to Musical Discoveries' editors
by our Scandinavian correspondent, singer songwriter Monica Starck's debut
album Stories Untold (Bolero Records AB (Sweden) BOL 50042, 2000) is
nominally a twelve-track alternative rock pop crossover collection.
With the album's selections largely self-written or written with other partners
and produced by Dan Sundqvist, Monica's vocal work will certainly appeal to
those that follow Andrea Corr.
Sweden has a knack of producing highly accessible pop tunes
fronted by lovely female vocalists and Monica Starck's work is certainly
no exception. The overall production of the recording and lush rocking
instrumental arrangements have been created with accessibility in mind
as evidenced by the album's emotionally delivered upbeat tracks.
Monica's vocal work is clearly the focus of the album however the lushness
of the instrumentals balances the overall sound.
Song structures on Stories Untold vary from highly
accessible uptempo ("The Trouble With Ben" and "In From The Cold")
through moody alternative rocking numbers ("Into The Unknown," "Even
Summer," "The Farewell of Julia" and "Powerful Thing") and heartfelt
yet moving ballads with expressive vocal work ("Happy" and the title
track "Stories Untold") that would be effectively placed in the midst
of one of the Warner Brothers teen television dramas.
One of the album's standout tracks is the upbeat and lushly
arranged "This Side Of Blue." Thick instrumental arrangements adorn
Monica's sensually sung "I'm Just Like You," a highly accessible radio
friendly pop rock track certain to appeal to a broad cross section of
Lushly produced vocal harmonies add texture and depth to the
finely played instrumentals. "Happy" is certainly one of the album's
standout tracks. Accompanied only by acoustic guitar, Monica's vocals
soar in the evocatively sung and gentle ballad "I'd Rather Sleep Alone."
The Scandinavian release of the album concludes with a light alternative
acoustic ballad entitled "Written On My Heart" that could equally be
classed as a folk tune.
Currently Monica Starck's albums are available only as imports
outside the EC. You can order the album from amazon.co.uk
here or as an import from Japan with several bonust tracks from amazon.com
here. Singles are also available at amazon.com. While the United States
music market is full of alternative female singer songwriters, Monica Starck's
work stands above them in song construction, harmony vocals and instrumental
arrangements. Worth further exploration, her debut album is a very nice
Image © 2000
(11 December 2000) The latest album from Richard Wileman's Karda
Estra entitled The Land Of Ghosts is a collection of previously released
tracks and previously unpublished rarities. Swindon-based Wileman has substantial
earlier work that includes two albums by Karda Estra
(review) and five by the progressive
Renaissance-like group Lives and Times. His most recent work, including the Karda
Estra albums and the final Lives and Times album features the stunning vocal work
of Ileesha Bailey whose voice has been favourably compared to Sandy Denny
previously. Lives and Times came to a conclusion at the end of 1997 when
Richard and Ileesha gave birth to Karda Estra. The Land of Ghosts
showcases Richard Wileman's soundtrack themes.
In The Land of Ghosts, Richard (piano sequences, classical
guitar) is supported not only by Ileesha's vocal work but also Caron Hansford
(oboe, cor anglais) and Zoe King (flute, saxophone). Instrumental arrangements
are highly thematic throughout featuring guitar-based textures. Ileehsa's
vocals seem to be denser and more heavily layered. And mixed up further she
seems to be far more prominent in the arrangements than the earlier Karda Estra
The album recalls tunes from Karda Estra's first two releases
A Winter In Summertime and Thirteen from the Twenty First.
These tracks include "... From A Deep Sleep," "Transference," "Dorothea's
Nightmare" and "The Ribbon Of Extremes." The album's first brand new track
recorded earlier this year is the dynamic and moody "Avatar" which blends
rhythmic percussion, straight guitar and heavily processed instrumental
excursions with a brief yet lovely vocalise melody.
The dark moody opening title and vocally lush main theme from
the movie Chaos occupy track positions six and seven on The Land
Of Ghosts. One has to adore the way Richard Wileman has balanced the
instrumental arrangements with Ileesha's vocals. We also enjoyed the sensual
oboe solo in the main theme. It is complimented wonderfully by Ileesha's
vocals and the saxophone part and is truly a wonderful main theme.
The Land of Ghosts includes two moody orchestrally
arranged instrumental numbers written and released in 1993 and 1995
respectively for the Lives and Times albums. "Lizard Baby" appeared
initially on There And Back Again (1995) while "Two Broken Circles"
is from The Pull of a Tide (1993). Richard told us, "They
point the way to the atmosphere of Karda Estra and I thought it would be
nice to include them here." "Two Broken Circles" is an orchestral
piece with classical influences while "Lizard Baby" is a harder edged
piece. Neither of the latter two tracks have vocal parts.
Karda Estra is currently working on their new project
that will be entitled Four Elements. Until its completion,
the group's largely retrospective work The Land of Ghosts is
certainly one to pay attention to. Based on demos our editors heard
earlier this year, we are keen to hear tracks from the new project.
Until then, this latest album is certainly worth further exploration.
Visit the band's website for ordering information. It is a very nice
Image © 2000
Amber Music Ltd
Image © 1996
Amber Music Ltd
(11 December 2000) Pamela Morgan's latest album release includes
twelve tracks that detail her diverse and innovative musical journey. It is
entitled Collection (Amber Music (Canada) 9807-2, 2000) and chronicles
her solo work and with her band Figgy Duff. She is the former lead singer,
songwriter and co-founder of the folk/rock innovators Figgy Duff. At the
forefront of the traditionally influenced Celtic scene for the past 20 years,
her music will appeal to enthusiasts of Clannad, Capercaillie and Renaissance.
With a sweetly sensual voice she is vocally similar to Sandy Denny and Jennifer
Nobel so her music may indeed appeal to those that follow Fairport Convention
and Ileesha Bailey of Karda Estra (review above) as well as Grey Eye Glances.
Writing from Newfoundland, Pamela Morgan told us,
"[the album is] an introduction for some, a road map for others; a bridge
between influence and direction, past, present and future. This is a
collection of some of my favourites; scattered over several albums, each
reflecting its own time, beauty and circumstance. Often inspired by nature
and the ocean, these are songs of changing times and changing moods, but always
coloured by the constant and profound beauty of Newfoundland and her graceful
Before Noel Dinn's untilmely death in 1993, he worked with Pamela
to produce the exquisite The Colour of Amber also featuring Anita Best
on backing vocals. Pamela continued her musical journey on the album, redefining
some of the most haunting traditional material that ultimately landed the
album on several "Year's Best" lists throughout the world.
Collection's twelve tremendous tracks come from a broad
cross section of Pamela Morgan's earlier releases including On A Wing And
A Prayer, Downstream, Weather Out The Storm and the various artists
collection Another Time. Tracks are largely Celtic influenced but
blend contemporary and rock arrangements with Pamela's stunning vocal work.
Traditional sounds are largely delivered through modern instrumentation.
One can not help but be highly captivated by each song's arrangements and
Pamela superb vocal delivery. The upbeat folk rock track "Freedom" is
certainly the album's standout track. It is a tremendous album, a wonderful
collection of the artist's work, and a tribute to the band where it
all began—certainly a must listen.
With the release of her first solo album, On A Wing And A
Prayer (Amber Music (Canada) 9803-2, 1996), she carries the legacy of
Figgy Duff through her own highly innovative, self-produced original music,
which earned critical acclaim and a place on various international
compilations. It is actually only one of Pamela's two solo albums,
the other being a collection of holiday music entitled Amber
On A Wing And A Prayer has twelve original numbers, some written with Noel
Dinn prior to his death and it continues much in the style developed earlier with
Figgy Duff. Occasional traditional instrumentation includes whistle and bodhran
and both are played to great effect. One is keenly reminded of Loreena
McKennitt's work in several of the album's tracks.
As one would expect of a female vocalist's solo album On
A Wing And A Prayer is slightly more self-indulgent, with the vocals
mixed way up where Musical Discoveries' editors like them, and with more
vast vocal excursions exploring Pamela Morgan's range. Instrumentals
are actually slightly more traditional with fiddle, whistle and mandolin
clearly shining through the arrangements each with lovely solos played
during the instrumental bridges in the individual tracks.
Pamela Morgan's vocals are sweet and sensually sung, whispy
at times, but never dusky (as others have written). She sings equally
with crystalline quality, especially on her solo album, and our readers
will hear all of these styles in both Collection and On A Wing
And A Prayer. These albums will be equally comfortable being played on
an easy going Sunday morning as they will be on a dynamic Saturday night but
perfectly suited to calm the nerves in intense city traffic might be too
relaxing for a cross country motorway drive.
Pamela Morgan's recordings are available through a number
of online sources. You can read further reviews, listen to soundbites
and order Collection from amazon.com
here and On A Wing And A Prayer
With stunning vocals and instrumental arrangements, these two albums by
Pamela Morgan are worth a long distance journey and are a must listen!
Image © 2000
(11 December 2000) Scheherezade are a dynamic club-oriented rock
band from Denver, Colorado (USA). Their self-released debut album Preak
was produced by vocalist and engineer Heather Lee at the beginning of 2000.
The group originated in 1998 when four musicians and long-time friends reunited
to create their own unique sound. Their main focus is currently on recording
their second album and may involve a move to the east coast next year. Heather
told us, "We feel we can reach more people through our performances simply
because there are more people to play for in the tri-state region. Exposure,
marketing and promotion will be key, but we need to target the right
Preak is comprised of ten original harder-edge progressive
rock-oriented tracks with heavy guitar and keyboard excursions and layered
vocal textures. Musical Discoveries was also provided a short demo of work
in progress with tracks "Blue Star" and "Autumn." Percussion and keyboards
are substantially more dominant than guitar contrasting the band's debut
album sound. The new ballad "Autumn" is moody but it is also highly melodic
with solo electric guitar underscoring Heather's soothing vocal layers.
Heather told us, "I wanted to include a few more songs on the
demo because it would provide a better idea of which stylistic direction the
band has been heading, but the studio that I work in and where we record has
been booked and I can only record off hours, of which there have been few."
Preak, by contrast has a heavier, mid-70s-ish Yes edge. Heather
continued, "We are intentionally weeding out the 1980s 'guitar-hero' sound
which you hear in some of the songs such as 'Close Proximity' and 'Road's
Whisper.' These songs were written long ago and we just had to get them
out of our system." A similar style is evident in the album's opening,
Those familiar with the British band and Classic Rock Society
favourite Fula will certainly hear a similarity to Scheherezade instrumentally
and vocally in the track "Secrets," "The Chase" and "911" where keyboards and
guitar blend with vocals to carry the song's melody forward. The album's
darker tracks include "Tumbleweed," "Spanish Rice" and the gloomy beginning
of "Close Proximity."
"Road's Whisper" is a melodic progressive rock track.
It's almost spoken solo vocals are supported by backing harmonies that
seamlessly blend with the instrumentals. Another progressive rock
number is is "Shameless." Layers of Heather Lee's bluesy vocals soar
above instense keyboard and guitar-based harmonies. We especially
enjoyed the softly rocking ballad "Her Way Out" with its striking
guitar solos and Heather Lee's sultry vocal lead and lovely layered
backing harmonies. The album concludes with the dynamic "Close
Proximity." Layers of vocals ride above a progressive and dynamically
arranged instrumental with crisp percussion, a metal-edged guitar and
lush keyboards. It is a fantastic concluding track.
Two tracks from the Preak album were selected to
be used in the feature-length film Picture of Priority, dealing
with teenage suicide. "The Chase" and "Stonegate" were chosen for a
couple of the rebellious scenes. The band's debut album can be obtained
at their official website and at their live performances in and around
Denver. Preak effectively captures the band's sound and with its
harder edge will appeal to progressive rock enthusiasts. A rather
significant departure from Renaissance—who they are compared to at
mp3.com—the band's music is adventurous in its genre and should be
explored further online. Notable instrumental and vocal
performances make the album a nice listen.
Image © 2000
Image © 2000
(28 November 2000) We made initial contact with Fabio Armani over
ten months ago in the run up to a new album by Advena Avis entitled Da Terre
Lontane. The group's earlier album is entitled Medioevo Futoro (1997).
Advena Avis was founded by Armani and Marco Carpiceci in Italy in 1990. He
told us, "The group's music folows a course which, inspired from the ancient,
that is the vast repertoire of medieval melodies, and from the study of instruments
and performing techniques of the ethnic and popular world, developed and enriched
itself in different phases." His style is further developed with the debut
self-titled work Terre Differenti (Different Lands (Italy) DL071, 2000)
also released this year.
Our demo version of the album included vocal work by Anna DeMartini. However
when the album was released her parts were replaced by Yazemin Sannino and Doris
Levin. We have had the opportunity to listen to both versions and Armini's
earlier Advena Avis albums for some time.
Terre Differenti is extremely atmospheric and an epic work running the
full 74 minute length of a commercial release. It draws significant natural sounds
and ethnic chants into the music, which varies from highly rhythmic to that involving
almost total improvisation, to develop a visually enticing backdrop for the
experience that rises above it. One can not help but be metaphysically transported
to a different land when listening to the first two title tracks (I and II).
The theme of different lands is most evident in the ever shifting themes. One
will hear new age, ethnic and alternative arrangements blended seamlessly with lovely
jazz parts. Production is superb with each of the composer's instruments evidently
discernable with perfect clarity. It is an adventurous group of recordings that
move the body and soul, inspiring relaxation during the journey. Arrangements
are perfectly balanced with our only desire being to have more vocals.
Fabio Armani told us about three of the album's tracks,
"'Clouded Shapers' is a song inspired to the beautiful landscapes created
by the clouds in the sky. It has an inner strength given by crescendos of
electric guitar solo, synths and world percussions. 'The Legend Of The
World" is a beautiful and evocative New Age piece inspired to ancient
legends on the wind. It uses electronic as well as ancient and world
instruments. "The Witches and the Desert" is a percussive middle east
oriented piece inspired by a photo of three red dressed women in the
desert. It talks the red tongue of the sand."
The Advena Avis and Terre Differenti albums are instrumentally dramatic and
evocative in their construction. The music will likely appeal to a broad
audience with its blend of jazz and world fusion textures. Visit the artist's
website for further information.
You can read further reviews of Terre Differenti, share your views with
and order their debut album from amazon.com
We found the two Advena Avis and Terre Differenti albums by Fabio Armani to
be a very nice listen!