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Image © 1996
(01 April 2000) Currently living in Canada,
Alla Kadysh has a sultry Russian accent
and a songwriting style that embraces jazz, folk, and ethereal
World Beat. Her eleven-track
debut album, Perichole's Sincerity Theory (SOCOM
(Canada) 1996) is attracting attention from radio stations
and the print media alike because of its unusual combination
of styles. The eclectic singer described by CMW media as
"Loreena McKennitt meets Sarah McLachlan with a dose of
Marlene Deitrich." Kadysh has sung back-up for well-known
Russian recording artists and toured the European
continent with various shows as well as with her own band. She also
works as a session singer, writes music for films and television
and performs in different venues in and around Toronto. Further
information about the artist and the album's title are available
at the artist's
The vocally laced album features heartfelt songs sung in a
contemporary and worldly style with stunning vocals, soaring
at times to incredible heights, primarily accompanied by light
instrumentation. Alla's extensive vocal range illustrated as
the album progresses.
We asked Alla about artists that may have influenced her songwriting.
"I don't think I'm influenced by any particular artist
when writing, but styles do influence me. For example, I was
listening to different Celtic bands before I wrote "Wrong Century,"
so it has some Celtic flavor, and I was into French chanson for
"Bear with Me". She is always craving something new and interesting
and consequently there isn't an artist or band she listens to all
the time. She told us, "I could listen to a song I like 56 times
a day for three weeks in a row and never come back to it again. The CD
changer in my car holds 6 CDs. I can tell you what's in it at this
moment: Portugese Fado singer Misia Sting's "Fields of Gold";
Sholeh Haghighat—traditional Persian music with amazing vocals;
Astor Piazzola "Songs From The Heavy Heart";
French band "Paris Combo"; and a women of jazz compilation
featuring Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Rita Reys and
Nina Simone." Alla also travels with a tape of whatever music
she's rehearsing at the time.
Contrasts are evident ranging from the upbeat contemporary
opening track "Woman From The Wrong Century" to the swinging
jazz influences of "Dummy Babe" and the worldly textures of
multi-tracked "Soul Of The Perichole." "Nothing's Wrong"
and "Bear With Me" hav a certain cabaret flare while "So
Pretty," with its sensitive vocal part, resembles a quiet
torch ballad. Alla plays piano and keyboards and is
accompanied by Wes Wraggett (electric and acoustic
guitars, keyboards and samples) and other supporting
Alla had couple of years of training in Musical Theatre college
and some private vocal tutoring. Her style developed from
stage experience. Alla's career is her music; She told us,
"I'm a proffessional performer. I do everything from the
studio side singing to private partys." She continued,
explaining about her live performances, "I play almost every
Friday in different Chapters and Indigo bookstores around
Toronto, some clubs and restaurants, festivals if I'm lucky
and whatever other gigs I can get."
She told about the songwriting process,
"The melody and the story idea come first, it is
never a problem. Then there's the long process of fitting the
lyrics into the melody where I'm cursing my English every 20
seconds and sleep with the Oxford [dictionary] under the pillow,
unless I'm writing the Russian song in which case it just flies."
SHhe told us about the studios she uses in different stages.
"Some songs I arrange myself and record bits and pieces at my home
studio, some i have no idea what to do with. Wes Wraggett,
composer and musician, arranged few songs on my CD. Then
everything goes into professional studio and gets recorded
with live musicians."
Artwork for the album includes lovely photographs illustrating
Alla's personal beauty. She told us, "the pictures were done by
a professional photographer, and my step daughter Julia did all
the computer graphics for both the album and the website." When
asked about the web, she told us, "The internet
has been a great promotional tool so far. I used to call people
trying to book the gig or get some press and they would invariably
ask, 'Alla ... who?' Now I tell them, 'You know, one of my songs
is No. 1 in Canada on a world fusion chart of MP3.com.' This usually
gets me some attention. Not to mention the convinience of being able
to send your demo over the net."
You can hear Alla's songs
mp3.com and order her album
Perichole's Sincerity Theory at amazon.com
here. Certainly worth further exploration, the album is vocally
stimulating and a relaxing listen!
Image © 2000
Survival Records Ltd
(18 March 2000) The Celtic Groove Foundation is
comprised of Charlie McKerron and John Saich, core
members of Scotland's Capercaillie
(review), well-known as
pioneers in progressive Celtic music. In collaboration
with Charlie's cousin Laura McKerron, their debut
project Big Sky has released a debut album
entitled Volume 1: The Source (Survival (UK)
SURCD024, 2000). Certain to appeal to the band's
followers and fans of Celtic-pop crossover bands like
(review), Big Sky produce a
big alternative sound spanning a vast range of styles
from Celtic folk through bluegrass and into highly
accessible almost-pop. This is not traditional music
but it is equally dance oriented! Soundbites are
available at the project's
Lush contemporary instrumentals are balanced with the
sensuous, honeyed-style vocals of Laura McKerron whose
voice can best be compared to Andrea Coor in many of
the album's tracks but especially in the highly accessible ballad
"Angel." The opening track "Golden Hair" is classic Celtic-pop
fusion with lots of vocal harmony, traditional fiddle and lush
contemporary instrumentation effectively blended together.
Charlie McKerron's Celtic-style fiddle join contemporary instrumental
arrangements and Laura's tremendous vocal harmonies in "Delicious,"
a tremendously accessible song that is as much Corrs as it is Wilson
Phillips. Charlie is also credited with guitar, keyboards and vocal
contributions sharing these with John Saich who is uniquely
credited with the album's bass parts. "Millenium Girl" combines
an almost bluegrass sound with highly accessible dance-oriented
rock and roll with harmonica, banjo, light harmonious vocals,
rocking guitar and crisp percussion.
Celtic dance flavours drive the album's instrumental riffs
("New Sardinia," the worldly and multi-cultural "Las Temporadas,"
"Biro Guiro") and feature work of a vast bevy of
established contributing artists: Michael McGoldrick (flute/Whistle),
James McIntosh (drums), Ellidh Shaw (fiddle), David Robinson (percussion),
Frasier Spiers (harmonica), Phil Bancroft (sax) and Donald Shaw (accordian),
Mark Duff (whistle/bodhran/wind synth), Gary Finlayson (banjo),
Tom Bancroft (drums), Simon Bradley (fiddle), Ian McLeod (mandolin)
and Chris Stout (fiddle). Additional backing vocals are contributed
by Sandra McKay and Brian McAlpine. The "Biro Guiro" and "Las Temporadas"
instrumentals are especially notable.
"Fly So High" continues in a vein similar to "Delicious" with
wonderful vocal harmonies yet alludes to Martine McCutcheon with its more
contemporary dance beat and deeper lead vocal part.
The album concludes with the slow, sensuous and contemporary tune
"Ambient Beach," with a texture that the title suggests, world themes,
and evocative vocals drawing some similarity to the themes introduced
earlier in "Las Temporadas." The band have done some touring in Scotland
but we think a double bill consisting of Capercaillie and Big Sky would
be a wonderful live performance!
You can obtain Big Sky's new nine-track album at amazon.co.uk
here or via amazon.com (import)
here. Tremendous in every respect, this album is absolutely
worth a journey-a must listen!
Image © 2000
Narada Productions, Inc.
(05 March 2000) The best compilation of Celtic female vocal artists
ever to be released is a masterwork entitled Faire Celts A Woman's
Voice (Narada World (USA), 72438-48733-2-5, 2000). The album
contains thirteen traditionally based tracks by as many top female
vocalists, several presently featured within Musical Discoveries. An
especially nice booklet accompanies the compact disc with lyrics,
background and full details of each individual recording.
Sinéad O'Connor opens the album with her own stunning mid-register
rendition of "He Moved Through The Fair" sung almost a capella over
very lightly arranged instrumentation. Eimear Quinn's Eurovision 1996
winner "The Voice," previously only released in Ireland as a single
commemorating the event, follows with her stunning soprano vocals over
the a lush yet traditionally steeped orchestral arrangement. From
Capercaillie's latest album Beautiful Wasteland
(concert review), Karen Matheson sings
the progressive Celtic number "Hebridean Hale-Bobb" in her unique
mouth-music style. Next, Mary McLaughlin sings a lovely ballad
written by Elenor McEvoy entitled "A Woman's Heart" over light
string based instrumentation; multi-tracked vocals in the chorus
add a lovely texture to the arrangement. The wide ranging interests
and contrasting vocal melodies of Canadian artists Keri Steel and
Nina Loretto of
Imaginary Heaven are evident in the worldly duet
"Can You See The Border." Jenny Schaub's superb vocals lead
West Of Eden in a stunning
progressive Celtic ballad entitled "This Piece Of Earth," a
highlight of this magnificent album.
Altan and Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh
perform the traditionally based and upbeat folk tune "Molly Na gCuach
Ní Chuilleanáin." A review of Altan's latest album Another Sky
will be posted at Musical Discoveries later this month. American
Connie Dover sends her
vocals soaring in the sensitive ballad "I Am Going To The West"
over the lightest keyboard and guitar instrumentation. Cathy
Jordan's sweet yet deeper vocals contrast those before her in
the song "Érin Grá mo Chroí" performed with lovely traditional
string and other light accompaniment from her band Dervish. Cathy
is regarded as one of the finest traditional singers in Ireland
today. Rich production and a highly accessible Euro-pop arrangement
make Talitha MacKenzie's "Hoireann O" from her Solas album
one of the most enjoyable songs of this compilation.
Kim Robertson's whispy "Ferry Me Across The Water" is a precious
ballad sung over her Celtic harp. A lovely whistle echoes the melody to
vocalisations of Christina Rosetti's lyrics (Rosetti also wrote the
famous hymn "In The Bleak Mid-Winter" performed by Annie Haslam and
Michael Dunford as
Nevada in 1980). Continuing with harp and whistle,
Mae McKenna's stunning
ballad "Dream Lover" is a testament to the singer's vocal breadth
and energy. The song is from Mae's recently re-issued album
Mirage and Reality (review).
The album concludes with a contemporary orchestral arrangement of
an otherwise traditional Gaelic medley by Sandra MacKay and Tannas
entitled "Thoir Dhohm Do Lamh/Ruidhleadh Na Coilich Dhubha."
Multitracked vocal work, whistle and tremendous instrumentals
contribute to the track's rich sound.
You can order the Faire Celts compilation at amazon.com
here. This thirteen-track compilation is the finest ensemble
of tracks by Celtic-inpsired female vocalists. The album should be
further explored as a collection and to introduce listeners to
artists that they may not have yet discovered. Highly recommended to
a broad audience of female vocal enthusiasts, this album is absolutely
worth a cross country journey—a must listen in every respect!
Nettwerk Productions 2000
Nettwerk Productions 2000
(05 March 2000) Singer songwriter Tara McLean's second album
entitled Passenger (Nettwerk (Canada) 0 76700 30144 2 7, 2000)
is comprised of twelve well produced vocally intense alternative, yet
highly accessible, tracks. An especially lovely booklet accompanies
the compact disc. Aged 26 at this writing, Tara MacLean was born on Prince Edward Island,
in Canada's eastern Maritime Provinces. She lived until the age of four
in a log cabin in the woods with her monther, an accomplished actress
and her Father, a country and gospel singer songwriter.
Tara was discovered while singing
with friends on the top deck of a ferry boat en route to a tiny island
off the coast of British Columbia by Nettwerk Records staffers. After
taping a few songs for them, Tara was signed to the label, and her
debut eleven-track album
was released in 1996. MacLean
toured for two straight years with Paula Cole, Ron Sexsmith, and the
Barenaked Ladies. She has carved her own style and astounded audiences
with her honesty and unforgettable voice and was named Best New Solo Artist
at the Canadian Radio Music Awards in 1997.
From her website, "The unending cycle of Human in nature, myth, unity
and chaos and the elements that make up life are some of the subjects in
Tara's new songs, which weave shimmering organic melodies with an
undulating trip-hop undertow, a musical correlative to feeding the soul
without ignoring the flesh." The album was produced in New Orleans by
Malcolm Burn and Bill Bell. The lush arrangements include
piano, guitar, other strings including violin, viola and cello, as well
as trumpet, drums and percussion. Tara's soft and sweet vocal work is
stunning throughout with soaring excursions showing tremendous power
A ballad that develops into a soft rock tune entitled "Jericho"
opens the album. The moving ballad "Dry Land" is a certain highlight
of the album and among several tracks on the album with a similar style.
The chorus has a lovely hook demonstrating the accessibility of
MacLean's music and powerful voice. The soft rock "If I Fall" and
ballads "Jordan" and "Blinded" exhibit rich string arrangements that
support the stunning vocal work.
"Reach," "Settling" and the title track "Passenger" are sung most
evocatively, in a style suitable for Dawson's Creek, Roswell and
other popular WB television shows, with arrangements building to
powerful proportions in the songs' choruses. The soft and melodic
ballad "La Tempête" is sung emotionally in French with very light
The album's dancier tunes include "Divided" and "Poor Boy" with their
pop-oriented Britney Spears-like trip-hop beat and whispy vocals. The
"Higher" is an accessible soft rock track with Celtic whistle that echoes
the memorable vocal melody, reminiscent in spots of of a much earlier
Judy Collins track ("Both Sides Now"). Soaring vocalise
join rocking world beat rhythms in a stunning untitled bonus track that
closes the album (listen for the "Scarborough Fair" melody within it).
You can order Tara MacLean's Passenger for a bargain price at amazon.com
here or her debut album Silence
A tremendous follow up album by a talented singer songwriter,
Tara Maclean's Passenger is certainly worthy of further
exploration and a journey—a very nice listen!
Image © 2000
Narada Productions, Inc.
(05 March 2000) Over The Rhine has released eight albums, beginning
their 1990 debut Till We Have Faces, with an evolving style
varying from the blistering rock numbers through almost-country,
blues, and soft emotive ballads with the common elements being Karin
Bergquist's stunning emotive and smooth vocals and Linford Detweiler's
song writing and instrumental performances. The latest release
by the band is a reissue of their fourth album (1996)
Good Dog Bad Dog on Virgin Back Porch / Narada (USA)
(Cat No 72438-48787-2-6, 2000).
The 12-track digital remaster includes a previously unreleased song
entitled "It's Never Quite What It Seems" but omits "A Gospel
Number" and "Jack's Valentine" from the original pressing.
Soundbites are available at the artists' and label's websites.
Whereas some of the band's earlier albums had rocking numbers,
the Good Dog Bad Dog remaster is primarily a Karin Bergquist
vocals album. As such it is full of soft ballads with emotive
vocalisation and light instrumentation, primarily guitar and
keyboard. Strings (cello and violin primarily) add to the texture
of several songs ("Everyman's Daughter" and "Happy To Be So"),
and especially in the instrumental "I Will Not Eat The Darkness."
The album's most moving songs include "All I Need Is Everything," a
soft rock tune with light percussion and a wonderful
string arrangement, and the jazzy and bluesy "Faithfully Dangerous."
The heartfelt soaring vocals in "The Seahorse" sung with only acoustic
guitar are gorgeous. The tremendous acoustic guitar instrumental
"Willoughby" demonstrates one of Ric Hordinski's talents.
The previously unreleased track "It's Never Quite What It Seems"
is another slow ballad sung softly and sensually with vocals soaring
at times above the light guitar and piano instrumental arrangement.
Karin sings most comfortably mid-register and excursions upwards
add to the vocal excitement of the album. Her voice is soft and
sweet, highly evocative and sensual. A very bright talent, the
other Over The Rhine recordings are equally recommended to
alternative rock enthusiasts, however their Till
We Have Faces and Eve albums are still considered
the most exciting albums byt the band.
Further information about this latest release is available at this
You can order Over The Rhine's album Good Dog Bad Dog
here. Over The Rhine's recordings are worth further exploration if for
no other reason to hear Karin Bergquist sing. A tremendous vocal talent in
all respects, this new album should be investigated. It is a
very nice listen!
Image © 1999
(05 March 2000) Released after touring with Kitaro as his lead
Lorenza Ponce's debut album Imago
(Angel (USA) 7243 5 555568 2 0, 1997) was widely acclaimed as an
instrumental and vocal masterwork
(see Celestial Voices
©1998-2000 Graham Lubin). Since releasing Imago,
Lorenza Ponce has toured
on Sheryl Crow's 1999 Globe Sessions tour and was a
featured violinist and vocalist for new age megastar John Tesh's
One World 1999 tour. Ponce has also performed alongside
Stevie Nicks, Deborah Harry and did session work for Tricky, Jon
Anderson (Yes), Siverchair and Ben Folds Five as well as those
she has toured with.
Lorenza's second, self-titled album (LMP Records (USA) LMP 0101, 1999)
has pulsing world beats, exotic instrumentation and has culled its
inspiration from her travels around the world. It is indeed a
look straight into the heart of a mesmerizing artist.
The new album is comprised of eight stunning tracks with lush
worldly or contemporary classical crossover arrangements and feature
moody evocative and sensual vocals. Asian
and Middle Eastern themes derived from strings and percussion are
combined with contemporary electronic sounds to create a highly
memorable soundscape. Most of the album's tracks are produced
by Lorenza with Floyd Fisher.
Five of the tracks sport vocals while the
remaining three are purely instrumental. The percussion, vocals
and strings are introduced in the album's opening track "Deeply"
solos for each illustrate the virtuosity of the individual
Lorenza's vocals carry the song "Saved" supported by a light,
worldly instrumental arrangement. Multi-tracking in the chorus
adds an Enya-like texture to the sound. "The Vision" is an
especially worldly instrumental with supporting vocalise to add
texture. The violn work is gorgeous, naturally! "Ruby" has
stunning vocal work, sharp worldly percussion and a tremendous
string arrangement that contribute to the overall texture of
the track. "Into The Daylight" is written, performed and was
produced by Lorenza. Sensitive vocals and a more pronounced
violin arrangement with uptempo percussion contribute to the
accessibility of the song.
Lorenza's voilin virtuosity is the feature attraction in
the lovely ballad-paced instrumental "Can You Hear Me" which
like the track that follows moves away from the earlier world
sound of the album. She continues into the intro of "The Gift"
where her vocals resume. A soft, sensitive, multi-tracked
ballad, the song features stunning vocal work and equally
soft violin rich instrumental arrangements. In the album's
lovely classical contemporary crossover closing track,
"Beloved," multi-tracked strings seem to share a melody
similar to that from Mark Snow's "Suite from the X-Files"
Lorenza Ponce's self-titled album features world tunes,
sensitive ballads and classical contemporary crossover tracks
certain to please a broad audience. Checkout a soundbite at
With vocal and instrumental
virtuousity including spellbinding violin performances, her new
album is worth extensive exploration, a long distance journey
for sure—a must listen!
Image © 1999
(05 March 2000) Singer songwriter Ginger MacKenzie's second album
Kismet (Earthnoise (USA) EN33-80465-2, 1999) follows a debut
entitled Earthbound (Earthnoise (USA), 1998)—now available exclusively
An album of live songs entitled Live At The Cactus
is also available there. Like her debut, the new album is a mosaic of
original songs ranging in styles from uptempo alternative pop numbers
through blues and country to soft heartfelt ballads. MacKenzie hails
from Austin, Texas where she has become a household name in just a few
short months. She won fourteen songwriting awards and her songs have
received significant local airplay. A full biography is available at
The opening number from the ten-track Kismet album has been
most widely played and is being used in a forthcoming Mirimax film.
Vocally lovely, sung sweet—Rikki Lee Jones style—and with feeling,
it is a highly accessible folk rock song with obvious mass appeal.
String loops at the introduction to the dancier trip-hop-oriented,
percussive "Lord" provide a slight industrial texture, reminscent of
Single Gun Theory,
while Ginger's vocal excursions and expressiveness are again more
accessible. "Love Is Hell" is an example of the album's soft
alternative rock songs with its sweet vocals and balanced guitar,
bass and light percussion.
"Conditional" is a jazz blues crossover track with very light
instrumentation and almost spoken vocals. "Whole Heart" is a bluesy
ballad, featuring a broad range of vocals soaring passages that add
texture during the bridge. The rock-country crossover songs "I Believe
In Love" and "I Can Feel My Heart" feature the widest vocal excursions
on the album. MacKenzie's most likely bids for Dawson's Creek
and other popular television series music are the lovely heartfelt
soft rock "Standing Still" and ballad "I'm Not Leaving You."
The album closes with "Surface Of Your Soul" which most fully
illustrates the full range, power and sheer energy of Ginger
MacKenzie's vocal talent. Thickening instrumentals demonstrate
the virtuousity of her supporting band.
Ginger MacKenzie's Kismet is an album that shows the talent
of a budding artist with "with such boundless energy, an undeniable
songwriting talent and a voice that evokes the sound of a clear
waterfall leaping earthward." Although her music was initially only
commonplace in the southwest, a nationwide presence is emerging as
her popularity grows. Her new album should be explored further; it
is a nice listen!
Image © 1999
(05 March 2000) The San Francisco Bay Area's Penny Framstad
is an emerging singer songwriter of rare depth and sensitivity.
She fronts a five-piece band and performs on guitar and piano.
A self-titled ten-track digital audio music CD is currently
available exclusively through
Penny recently had several songs from the album in
the mp3 Rock & Pop Radio charts. A west coast tour is planned
to launch her indie release during the spring and summer of 2000.
Framstad's songs have appeared on NBC's Providence and
Her album includes tracks co-written with Grammy Award Winning
song writers Tom Whitlock and Jeffrey Cohen. "Even Angels Fall,"
co-written and sung by Jessica Riddle, appears in the Touchstone
film 10 Things I Hate About You and is on the Hollywood
Reords Soundtrack (order it from amazon.com
here). Penny's own version, with it's lush production, accessibility
and lovely instrumental arrangement opens her self-titled album.
The album also includes co-writes with Kim Bullard, Steve Seskin,
and Geoff Perlman (lead guitar, vocals). Craig Owen (bass),
Dan Foltz (drums) and various other supporting musicians
provide instrumentals and backing vocals on her album.
The track "Anymore," a soft alternative rock with exceptional
and building arrangements and percussive elements, was written
by Penny alone.
With only light piano as accompaniment, Penny sings "People
With My Last Name" and "Back For Me" both stunningly sensitive
ballads and wonderful illustrations of the range and depth of
Penny's vocal talent.
The song "Making Deals With God" is a soft rock track that is
sensually sung and supported with lush instrumentation. "The
Best Day Of Your Life" and "If I Can Have It All" build from ballad
into and richly arranged rock songs with soaring vocals and
a notable electric guitar solos, perfect for inclusion in any one
of the most popular television series' shows (Roswell
for example). "Shadow Of The Sun" with lots of guitar and vocal
effects adds to the texture of the album's harder rock tracks.
It actually works quite well on its own and in contrast to the
album's softer tunes.
The uptempo highly accessible almost-pop "Tomorrow's Happening
Today" features wonderful vocal harmonies, lush keyboard backing
and a chorus with a wonderful hook certain to please a broad
range of audiences. The album closes with "Like A Moth To A
Flame" performed much in the style of "People With My Last
Name." If one were to open the album and the other to close it,
they would be like bookends.
The instrumental arrangements of Penny Framstad's self-titled
album add depth and texture to the expressive vocal elements and
contribute to the overall sound. This debut is a lovely album
and worthy of further exploration by adult alternative rock
enthusiasts. Eight of the album's ten songs can be heard online
We're sure you will agree that it is a nice listen!
Image © 1999
(05 March 2000) The sweet yet powerful crystalline mid-register
vocals on Vermont native Kate Barclay's latest album Sunshine
From Mars (Solstice Records (USA) 7 85851-3314-2 4, 1999) will
strike most listeners right from the outset. A dynamic vocalist,
Kate confounds all expectation of a girl with a guitar. A well
established twelve string guitar player, her strumming, picking
and percussive playing got her accepted into the Taylor Guitars
artist relations program. The new album is co-produced by Kate
with Charles Eller who also performs on five tracks.
Sunshine From Mars contains twelve relatively short tracks
with various styles, including soft rock, folk, blues and jazz,
the first half primarily is more instrumentally arranged than the
second. Further biographical details and photos are available at
Raunchy lyrics in "Tuna Town" are supported by the rocking
jazzy flavour of the song generated by thick bass and harmonica.
High production quality and piercing vocals continue into "How About
You" which varies between ballad and pulsing rock within the track.
Soaring vocals in the chorus are effectively offset by a notable
piano and guitar counterpoint. "Stop The Violence" is a bluesy
almost spoken track with most notable acoustic guitar accompaniment.
Saxophone adds significantly to the lush arrangements of "Fire In
The Hole" and the vocals vary between almost spoken lyrical bits
to soaring sung parts.
"All I Want" is a most sensitively sung
ballad lightly accompanied by acoustic guitar and cello and, like
"Hold On" and "Be Your Friend" with their tremendous acoustic
guitar parts, illustrates the artist's vocal dexterity.
"What You Lookin At" and "It's" are performed in a similar manner.
Keyboards join guitar adding to the richness of the arrangement
in the alternative rock track (with a country tinge) "Everything."
"Keep On Singin" is one of the album's high spots with its banjo and
percussion perfectly joining Kate's voice. The album closes with
"For A Dollar" a sensitively sung track performed with acoustic
You can order Kate Barclay's album Sunshine From Mars via amazon.com
here. She has an excellent voice, writes songs with poingnant lyrics,
and the richly arranged songs have tremendous texture. We think you'll
agree after listening to the samples online at
that the album is indeed a nice listen!
Image © 2000
(05 March 2000) The second album from Australian singer
songwriter and beauty
Michelle Tumes is entitled Center Of My
Universe (Sparrow Records (USA) SPD 1696, 2000) comes
on the heels of her highly successful Listen
(Sparrow Records (USA) SPD 1546, 1998). Centered on
her characteristically ethereal vocals and produced by
David Leonard and Michelle Tumes, the album's ten tracks
are highly accessible alternative rock-oriented numbers
with primarily secular lyrical themes; it is in the
format and is accompanied by an high quality liner notes
with complete lyrics, credits and lovely colour
photography. Sparrow Records has
produced another stunning
website to accompany the album while another
[independent or fan-based]
video clips, additional soundbites and amateur photographs.
Michelle's late autumn tour met with widespread acclaim.
A classically trained pianist, Michelle gave up her
idea of a music career for a time and studied dentistry
until her little sister gave her some money from a paper route
to make a demo of her songs. With that vote of confidence and
some interestr from publishing companies, Michelle set out to
pursue a career in the United States. After landing cuts by
artists like Jaci Velasquez and Sixpence None The Richer,
Michelle signed a record deal and released her debut album.
She received an ipressive nod from her peers with a Dove
Award Nominaton in 1999 for New Artist of the Year.
The lush orchestral arrangements on Michelle Tumes' albums
perfectly compliment her ethereal lead and multi-tracked backing
vocals and create a highly accessible sound designed to appeal
to the broadest audience. Center Of My Universe opens
with "Deep Love" an upbeat Enya-esque tune. "Heaven's Heart"
is a soft rocking tune with more pronounced guitar and
percussion but equally effective orchestral arrangements.
Michelle's sweeet lead vocals are mixed higher and the layers
of backing vocal add wonderful texture. The ballads "Lovely"
and "Immortal" are equally lush each with their own rich
instrumentals, stunning vocal lead and layers of backing vocals
but slower pace.
"Do Ya is quite different, and I'm sure people will be
shocked by it," admits Michelle. It's very upbeat and
pop-oriented. "I wanted people to see there is a different
side to me, that I don't always float around and write serene
music. That song addresses the fact that looks really don't
matter—it's what's on the inside. Everyone's unique, and
that's a fantastic thing." It would be perfect song for play
within WB's Popular television.
Michelle's sensual lead vocal in "Missing You" is mixed way
up in spots with little instrumentation however the choruses
have lots of backing layers that add to the acoustic textures.
More spoken than typical for Michelle, the lead vocal in "With
The Angels" is equally exquisite, evocative and sensual; the
layers in the choruses are very accessible—listen for the short
whispery hook. A first for Michelle, "Chant" is an immediate link
back to more spiritual days. Inspired by a visit to an Othodox
church, Michelle reflects, "The music they used in that church
was so sacred, and this chant was written with that in mind. It
helps me to be still, and silent, and in that place I become
very peaceful." The strings supporting otherwise a capella
choral work are very effective.
A gothic texture is captured with robust and uplifting
orchestral arrangements and percussion in the highly
accessible and moving vocal number "Christe Eleison," a
certain favourite from the album. The closing track, "I
Wish For Peace," is a short and soft ballad sung sensitively
mainly with piano accompaniment.
You can order Michelle Tumes' latest album Center Of My Universe
here or her debut album Listen
here. Clearly Michelle Tumes is continuing to stretch her talent beyond
conventional musical boundaries with this new album. Perfect production
and top quality recording compliments the song writing and artists'
performances. Worthy of a cross country journey, this new album is a
stunning achievement and certain to please female vocal enthusiasts.
Like her debut album of the same name, it is a must Listen!
Image © 2000
(05 March 2000) The latest album from Ireland's premier Celtic
folk band Altan is entitled Another Sky (Narada World (USA)
72438-48838 2 9, 2000). The band is fronted by lead
vocalist and band co-founder Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh (also featured
in the compilation Faire Celts—review)
and hails from county Donegal, home of Enya, Clannad and other
Celtic artists. Her husband and Altan co-founder passed away
in 1994. The band is named after Loch Altan, by which one must
pass if travelling from Malin Head to Crolly as we did several
years ago enroute to Leo's Tavern.
Another Sky is clearly anchored in
Irish music, however, the band is continuing to explore regions
outside purely traditional roots. The booklet accompanying the
compact disc is especially well produced with song explanations,
lyrics, translations and lovely photos. The band has an excellent
website which is a thorough
resource worthy of further exploration by Celtic music enthusiasts.
Full details of the band members and their contributions can be
read there. Interested visitors will find that Narada's Altan
web page contains the label's perspectives and several short
soundbites from the new album.
Another Sky's thirteen lovely tracks consist of traditional
instrumentals, vocal ballads sung in Gaelic or English, either solo or
with harmonies. Instrumentation is largely traditional
—including twin fiddles, accordion and bouzouki, for example—but
arrangements are occasionally quite contemporary. The vocal work is
consistently stunning—Narada calls it transfixing and we could not
The album's instrumentals include the medleys "The King of
Meenasillagh / Lamcy's / The High Fiddle Reel," "Gusty's Frolicks /
Con's Slip Jig / The Pretty Young Girls Of Carrick / The Humours
Of Whiskey," "The Dispute at the Crossroads / Columba Ward's /
Siús Reel," "The Ookpik Waltz" and "The Waves Of Gola." Altan's
arrangements are traditionally rooted but contemporary in their
production and delivery. Donal Lunny contributes keyboards to
"The Waves Of Gola."
The album opens with a traditional Gaelic vocal entitled
"Beidh Aonach Amárach (There's a Fair Tomorrow)" perfectly
introducing Mairéad's lead vocal work. The layers of backing vocals
add a lovely texture to the track. "Green Grow the Rushes"
and "Istland Girl" are lovely traditional ballads sung solo
in English; the whistle melodies accompanying the vocals are
especially notable. The traditional Gaelic folk song
"Eoghainín Ó Ragadáin" is sung sweetly light guitar accompaniment
throughout with additional instrumentation and lovely vocal
harmonies during the choruses.
The folk songs "Ten Thousand Miles" and Bob Dylan's "Girl From
The North Country" both have stunning lead vocal performances and
instrumental arrangements that perfectly support the lead. "The
Verdant Braes of Screen" is a lovely English ballad with a softly
soaring vocal part and a guest performance by Bonnie Raitt on
slide guitar adding a unique texture to Altan's sound. The last
vocal track on the album is entitled "Tiocfaidh an Samhradh
(Summer Will Come)." A Gaelic folk song accompanied by acoustic
guitar and piano, it is perfect illustration of the lead vocalist's
range, energy and total talent.
You can order Altan's Another Sky via amazon.com
here. Altan's latest album further explores their contemporary
arrangements of traditional pieces and moves into new directions
with guest performances and songs written by contemporary writers.
Certainly worthy of further exploration by Celtic female vocal
enthusiasts and tradtional instrumentals, the album is worthy of
a long distance journey and is a very nice listen!