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Grey Eye Glances
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Image © 2000
||Winter in July
||A Whiter Shade Of Pale
||He Doesn't See Me
||How Fair This Place
||Hijo de la Luna
||Here With Me
||Solo Con Te
||She Doesn't See Him
||First Of May (Live)
(20 August 2000) The latest album by Sarah Brightman entitled
La Luna (Angel Records (USA) 7243 5 56968 2 3, 2000) released
in the United States on 29 August, continues much in the vein of the
star's prior albums Eden and Time To Say Goodbye
(Timeless in Europe and other territories). A classical
crossover album in every respect, La Luna, with its
moon themes, has something for every one of Sarah's
fans. Cover versions of folk and pop songs perfectly compliment her
modern interpretations of the more classical Aria-oriented tracks.
Once again produced by Frank Peterson, the album clearly blends
sounds from the Dive and Fly era with the artist's
most recent releases.
Sarah Brightman has long led the way in the classical crossover
genre and has been joined by
Emma Shapplin (review),
Izzy (review) and
Filippa Giordano (review).
The Angel Records version of La Luna differs slightly
from the German pressing both in running order and tracks included
to best address the American audience. Most notable is the
differing lyrical viewpoints between the complimentary
ballads "He Doesn't See Me" (USA) and "She Doesn't See Him"
(EEC). This stunning track blends contemporary sound with
Celtic orchestration. The four additional tracks on the
American version make it more accessible, emphasising
the contemporary side of the classical crossover genre.
Musical Discoveries readers that have long requested a
review of Sarah Brightman's work should appreciate this
(pre-release) album review.
The album's classically derived tracks are performed graciously
with operatic vocals soaring well above the orchestral instrumentation.
Examples include "La Califfa" (Lady Caliph), Beethoven's "Figlio
Perduto" (Lost Son), Handel's "Solo Con Te" (Only With You), and
Rachmaninov's "How Fair This Place"/"How Fare This Spot" sung in
Russian; it is joined to a Frank Peterson instrumental introduction
entitled "Serenade" which includes Sarah's lovely soaring vocalise.
The most accessible tracks on the album include Brightman-style
anthem "Here With Me" and uptempo rocking tune "Winter In July".
The inclusion of Sarah's stunning cover of Gary Brooker's "A Whiter
Shade Of Pale" this time with rich orchestral arrangements perfectly
compliments "A Salty Dog" on Dive. Sarah's cover of
"Scarborough Fair" is sensitively sung over light instrumental
arrangements. The song was recently covered by Gypsy Soul as
Sarah's singing in the lovely uptempo classically derived piece
entitled "Hijo de la Luna" (Son of the Moon) is most reminscent
of Kate Bush's style.
Slow ballads ("La Lune," "He Doesn't See Me" and "This Love") are sung
tenderly and evocatively, backed with a well-produced blend of
traditional and modern arrangements. The bluesy jazz smoky piano bar
undertones of "Gloomy Sunday" add to the unique sound of the album.
The American version of the album closes with the title track, an
Frank Peterson adaptation of a Dvorak classic that blends classical
construction with Brightman's operatic soaring vocals and slightly
contemporary arrangements. A hidden track within "La Luna" includes
a unique Brightman acoustic interpretation of "Moon River." Interested
listeners will have to wait until about 5:15 on the counter for it
The booklet accompanying the compact disc of both EEC and USA
versions is as stunning as the music. Produced on high gloss paper
and loaded with stunning photos by Simon Fowler (all available on Sarah's
website), it contains
lyrics both in the language sung and their translations. You can
order the American version of La Luna from amazon.com
here as well as the import version
here. Sarah Brightman's earlier albums are also available at amazon.com.
Diverse in its content, well-produced in all regards with stunning
vocals certain to delight our readers, La Luna is worth
a trans-Atlantic journey and is a must listen!
Image © 2000
Sojourn Hills Records
(20 August 2000) Grey Eye Glances albums Songs Of Leaving and
Further On (both originally released under the band name Sojourn)
were followed by Eventide and Painted Pictures on
Mercury Records. An additional EP sold exclusively on the internet
entitled One Day Soon was the band's last release on Mercury
Records before it was merged into a larger label. To ensure their
continued growth, the band recently purchased back rights to material
produced while they were with Mercury and released four additional
special compilations of rare and live material that was sold via the
internet to their most dedicated fans. The band are currently
financing their next album by selling tracks individually as
downloadable mp3 files.
The first collection of six of these tracks has been released as an
EP entitled If I Was ... (Grey Eye Glances (USA) JED0112, 2000).
It was recorded at The farmhouse—the band's new 24-track digital studio
located in West Point, PA. A second EP is due at the end of 2000.
Fronted by lead vocalist Jennifer Nobel, the band also includes
Eric O'Dell (bass, trumpet, vocals) Dwayne Keith (piano, organ, melodica,
vocals), Brett Kull (guitars, mandolin, banjo, vocals) [Echolyn] and
Paul Ramsey (drums, percussion). While the EP is professionally pressed
and well recorded, the production quality is reminscent of the band's
earliest two releases, with the lushness and rich bottom end typical
of the Mercury era gone.
With only one track co-penned by Jen Nobel, the other five are
written by Dwayne Keith either himself or in various combinations with
Kull and O'Dell. Earlier Grey Eye Glances albums included more Jen
Nobel writing credits. The vocals are again stunning, and the band
have mixed them way up, as in their earlier releases. Jen's fans will
be well pleased with her vocal work. on If I Was .... Artwork
is professional prepared and full lyrics are included.
The EP opens with the title track "If I Was" which is similar to
"Painted Pictures" in its rhythm. The brass section adds a lovely
texture to arrangement. Vocal work is evocative and balanced
with the individual instrumental parts. Harmony vocals and a well
played electric guitar part provide a perfect backdrop to Jen's
sensitive vocal in the soft rocking "Moonlight." The sweet and
sensitive ballad "In" is softly sung over light acoustic
arrangements, perfectly demonstrating the talent of the band's lead
vocalist. Instrumentals build for "Even," a typically Grey Eye
Glances tune, are well played. The song blends a crystalline lead
vocal part with orchestral sounds in the background as energy within
the track builds.
"Ordinary Day" is a very upbeat and equally accessible track with
melody carried by keyboard and lead vocal offset by a lively guitar
part. Crisp percussion and bass puctuate the sound. We were reminded
of "Halfway Back" from first listen. The EP concludes with "Hollow,"
opening as a delicate and lightly instrumented ballad. Jen's sensitively
soft vocals intertwine with searching guitars and delicate percussion and
build with harmony vocals as the song develops.
The latest release by Grey Eye Glances is certain to thrill
their following. The band are making great progress towards an
independent full length album release, and this EP is a notable
step in the process—one to be appreciated by those that prefer
CDs to mp3 files! Although not generally available until September
the band's fans can order the EP as a prerelease via the GEG
website or by calling toll-free 877-916-5862.
Enjoyable in every respect, especially with the
return to a self-produced sound, the EP is a very nice
Image © 1999
(20 August 2000) The latest album from Filippa Giordano is a
self-titled twelve track recording (Erato/Sugar (Italy) 3984-29694-2,
2000). Giordano's music is underpinned with classical influences, yet
blended with pop sensibilities, it lies firmly in the crossover genre.
Indeed, eight of the new album's tracks are Filippa's own interpretation
of well-known arias while the remaining four are more accessible,
contemporary vocal sensations. While she began recording as a pop artist,
recent influences have been classical. Her vocal work is crystalline
and comparable to both Sarah Brightman (review),
Emma Shapplin (review),
Aria (review) and
Izzy (review). Filippa's soaring
crystalline vocal excursions reveal extensive talent and training.
The album features long-time operatic favourites as "Vissi d’arte"
from Tosca and "O mio babbino caro" from Gianni Schicchi, both by
Puccini, "Addio del passato" from "La Traviata" by Verdi and "Casta
Diva" from "Norma" by Bellini. "Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix" from
"Samson & Dalila" by Saint Saens, and the Habanera from "Carmen"
by Bizet; all are rich in passion, but performed absolutely natural.
A short version of "Casta Diva" opens
the album whilst an extended version concludes it. Giordano's own
interpretatoin of "Ave Maria" rounds out the classically derived
numbers. Gary S. Dalkin wrote, "Using a conventional orchestra
sometimes supplemented by electronic keyboards and occasional drums,
the production achieves a slick and glossy chart-friendly sound that
will find favor with fans of Whitney Houston and Céline Dion.
It's doubtful that serious opera aficionados will care much for
Filippa Giordano, though music lovers in general may well find the
album an attractive entry into the sometimes-forbidding world of
the classical diva."
The four contemporary songs illustrate another side of
this stunning vocalist's talent. The Ennio Morricone-Roger Waters
"Lost Boys Calling" from the 1999 Golden Globe-winning movie
The Legend of 1900 is the first following the classical
numbers and is most reminscent of Céline Dion's work. "You Are
The One" is the first of three contemporary tracks by Fracesco
Sartori. Although contemporary in its construction, it is anthemic
in style, most reminiscent of Mariah Carey's early work both in
vocal delivery and overall sound. "Dissonanze" (Mondo Trash)
continues in a similar vein combining rich orchestral arrangements
with evocatively soaring vocal excursions. A soft emotive ballad
entitled "Maria (By The Sea)" balances soaring vocals with light
orchestral instrumentation. Constructed as an anthem, the track
also compares favourably to Céline Dion's work.
You can read further reviews, hear sound samples and order
Filippa Giordano's self-titled album from amazon.com
here. Artwork accompanying the compact disc positions the classical
numbers and contains several lovely photos of the attractive artist.
Crystalline vocals, well arranged orchestration and
tremendous production contribute to the stunning quality of Filippa's
Certain to please enthusiasts of classical crossover
female vocal work, the album is worth a cross country journey. Our
readers will agree with us: it is a must listen!
Image © 1998
The Rosemary Pure
Image © 1999
The Rosemary Pure
(20 August 2000) The debut album from The Rosemary Pure, entitled
Some Days '98 (The Rosemary Pure (USA) trp1098, 1998), is comprised
of thirteen "post-alternative" rocking tracks laced with vocals
from the band's two female singer / guitar players Kiki Parry
(lead vocals) and Joanna Coopersmith (lead guitar).
Andrew Hendry (guitars) is also credited on the band's recordings.
Based in central New Jersey not far out of the reach of Philadelphia,
the band is rounded out by rhythm section Neil Odell (bass) and Chip
Morrow (drums and percussion). In addition to the band's debut alubm,
a six track EP entitled See Your Star (The Rosemary Pure (USA)
trp8.99, 1999) is also being distributed at the band's live performances
and sold via their website.
The band's debut album has quite a few (short) upbeat and "melodic,
driving, kinetic indie pop/rock" tunes. While they are not self-labeled
as a new wave band, we were reminded of groups operating in that genre on more
than one occasion while studying the album. Sweet two-part vocal harmonies
dominate, yet they are complimented by lovely guitar work and crisp percussion.
The Rosemary Pure are first and foremost a rock band—dynamic and well-played
instrumental bridges balance the otherwise the band's vocally-laden sound.
With all of the band's energy, a live show must be quite an experience.
The vocals are awesome.
Several of the songs on the debut album can be easily distinguished from
the others. The vocal work in the folk rock tune "I Can See Her Now" has an
especially well-blended texture and despite the lushness of the instrumental
arrangements, the harmonies work especially well with vocals mixed way up,
the way we like them most. A similar sound emerges in "Tired," and like "I
Can See Her Now" we were reminded of The Cranberries' sound.
The significant contrasts within "Under Waves" were not only well played
but they were most remniscent of the progressive sound of UK-based band Fula
(review) especially by Kiki Parry's lead
vocal. Some Days '98 is a great album and must be listened to a few
times to really appreciate all of the intricacies within its tracks.
The band's latest project, an EP (pressed on CD-R) entitled See Your
Star, has six tracks with the last track being an acoustic version of
the first one. The band have obviously moved on, becoming instrumentally
tighter with harmonious vocal work sounding even more like The Cranberries.
"Mermaid" is an upbeat, new wave-tempoed song, with glorious two-part
harmonies. The acoustic version is lighter, and accompanied only by
acoustic guitar and light percussion, unprocessed lead and harmony vocals
naturally dominate. Songs are more intricate with tempo and mood
changes within them trending the band into a song-based progressive rock
direction at times. "Surrounded" joins "See Your Star" and "Every Hour"
in overall tempo while being vocally subdued in comparison favouring the
instrumental arrangements in prowess. "Higher" is a slower track more
characterised by soaring vocal harmonies and Fula-like progressive
You can read further reviews and order The Rosemary Pure's CD
Some Days '98 from amazon.com
here. While further information is available at the band's official
website, you can visit their mp3.com website for free downloads
and further information. The Rosemary Pure's
sound is certain to appeal to alternative rock enthusiasts. Vocally rich,
rocking sounds make the sound enjoyable and the more accessible tracks
and the ballads are very attractively produced. The debut album's artwork
compliments the compact disc while the lack of liner notes and a lyrics
sheet is disappointing. Says lead vocalist Kiki Parry, "I work at Discmakers
and my job is to design CD packaging for bands. I really enjoyed designing
my band's own CD, it was fun." Despite being done in a home-based
environment, the recording quality is very good and overall production
quality of the album is exceptional. Certain to appeal to our
alternative rock readers, both the album and followup EP are a
very nice listen!
Image © 2000
(03 September 2000) The debut album from Chimoniso Maraire, entitled
Ancient Voices (Tinder Records (USA) 42859372, 2000), originally
released in 1998 on the Lusafrica (France) label, is available as a
domestic product for American audiences. Ten worldly tracks blend
the artist's stunning crystalline lead vocals with richly produced
instrumental arrangements. Lyrics are a mixture of English and
other langugages, primarily from Zimbabwe.
Chimoniso, regarded as the star of a new generation, won the RFI prize
for the most promising new singer in Africa in 1998. Her album combines
traditional trance-music of the mbira (tuned metal strips attached to a
sound board, and plucked with the thumbs)
with modern arrangements supported by the band Andy Brown & the Storm.
Ancient Voices is a blend of new age, world and more accessible pop
sounds and is certain to please a broad spectrum of audiences. Arrangements,
while worldly at times, are equally contemporary. Chimoniso has a wonderful
vocal range, resting in a spot between Maggie Reilly and Miriam Stockley,
with excursions soaring into higher octaves as well. The album is rythmically
oriented towards easy dance beats although far more easy listening than
Miriam Stockley and Mae McKenna's work on Shabala.
"Madame 20 Cents" combines reggae rhythms with accessible tunes while
stunning soaring vocals in both English and native tongues are supported
by lovely harmonies. The guitar solo during the instrumental bridge
and arrangements demonstrate the prowess of the supporting band. Lovers
of Miriam Stockley's tribal style vocal layers or the sounds of Phil Sawyer's
Beautiful World will be enthralled with the tracks "Mai," "Nhemamusasa,"
"Iwai Nesu" and "Wandirasa." Contemporary jazz-oriented tracks include
"Ancient Voices," "The Way Of Life," "Tamari" and "Look to the Spirit"
which has a slight reggae beat and a lovely flute part. The album closes
with a soft rock tune entitled "Everyone's Child" sung
primarily with acoustic guitar and mbira accompaniment. The
instrumental bridge is richly produced with traditional sounds.
Vocal work is sweet, evocative and crystalline and demonstrates
the artist's viruousity.
You can find further reviews, hear several sound samples and
order Chiwoniso's album Ancient Voices from amazon.com
here. This album balances stunning vocal work with world, new age
and pop instrumental arrangements. It is easy to understand why Chiwoniso
won the RFI prize for being the most promising new African singer. Her
vocal work, song writing is perfectly complimented by the superb production
of this debut album. Clearly worth a cross country journey we think it is
a must listen!
Image © 2000
(03 September 2000) Chuck Nelson's various artist compilation One
(Word Entertainment (USA) 080688603427, 2000) has been produced to support
World Youth Day. The album cover is linked to the official site (but the
server is frequently overloaded). Israel Button wrote,"Initiated by Pope
John Paul II in 1985, by the year 2000, World Youth Day draws approximately
two million youth to Rome, Italy. The purpose of World Youth Day is to answer
the call for Christian unity, and build up the relationship between youth
and the church. Word Records has partnered with the Vatican's World Youth
Day committee to help with entertainment and promotion for the event. This
compilation disc is a first step in the process, featuring songs that explore
issues of unity with Christ and with others."
Both male and female vocalists are featured. Twelve tracks by a broad
selection of secular recording artists spans an equally vast spectrum of
Christian contemporary styles. The CD features selections by an all star
lineup including: Rachael Lampa, Aaron Neville, Sixpence None the Richer,
Máire Brennan, Booley, Winans Phase 2, Burlap to Cashmere, Jaci Valasquez,
Gabriel's Harp, A Ragamuffin Band, Cindy Morgan, Luis Fonsi and Salvador.
The song "Emmanuel" is the official theme song of the World Youth Day 2000;
two versions are included within the album—one entirely in English and
the other in Italian, Spanish, French and Portuguese (we think!). Both
are sweetly sung tender ballads led by male and supported by female
We most enjoyed the contemporary rocking tune "Heart Of Every Man"
by Gabriel's Harp. Sweetly sung female backing vocals contrast the male
lead and instrumentals perfectly. The pop rock tune "Love" is a moving
remix by Sixpence None The Richer dominated by electric guitar. Leigh
Nash's sweetly sung vocal part is especially enjoyable; vocalise in
the orchestrally arranged chorus demonstrates her true virtuosity.
The album's token Celtic-oriented track is a classic Máire Brennan
ballad with a lovely calling whistle part entitled "Peace Has Broken
Out." Her stunning performance illustrates why she is one of the top
Irish female singers today (review).
Salvador's "Ain't It Good" is one of the album's Latin tunes. They have a
great brass section which contrasts well with the song's keyboard parts.
"Basic Instructions" by Burlap To Cashmere also has a latin flavour—an
upbeat track, it works quite well. The rhythm and texture of A
Ragamuffin Band's "Il Tuo Strumento" is quite Brazilian especially
with the symphonic instrumental arrangements. The album's only
R&B-oriented tune is "It's Alright" by Winans Phase 2.
Tender ballads include Rachael Lampa's emotional "There Is Still A
Dream" performed with Aaaron Neville and the highly evocative and
sweetly sung "With Me" by Jaci Velasquez. "The Last Supper" is a ballad
performed as a duet by Cindy Morgan and Luis Fonsi to light accompaniment,
primarily provided by acoustic guitar. Morgan is a wonderful vocalist
with a sweet and sensitive voice; we'd certainly like to hear some more
of her music.
You can find further reviews, listen to sound samples and order One
here. Clearly with the tracks spanning a vast range of styles and
featuring contributions from some excellent performing artists the album
is worth further exploration. Check out the online samples and let us
know if you agree. We think it's a very nice listen!
Image © 2000
New World Music
(04 September 2000) Terry Oldfield's 19th album Across The Universe
(New World Music (UK) NWCD 489, 2000) "is about the yearning to be free that
becomes so much a part of Human Condition as we travel the pathways of liberation."
In contrast to his earlier projects, three of the five tracks feature stunning
vocal contributions from sopranos Juliana and another named Karen Debbonnaire.
Instrumentals are played and arranged by Terry Oldfield and include parts on
low whistle, flute, piano, percussion and keyboards. Further instrumentals
include shakuhachi, temple bell, pan pipes. Peter Rosser contributes piano
to "Sun In My Eyes" and "When", to which Rhonda Oldfield contributes backing
With only five tracks to the album, each one is epic in proportion.
Relaxing new age, soundtrack-oriented instrumentals dominate the mix but
lovely vocals contribute to the expressive texture of the album.
Juliana's lovely soprano vocals inspire the listener on the title track
ballad that opens the album. Crystalline clear and flute-like in texture,
the lyrics are sung over soft electronic accompaniment before flute
and low whistle parts begin. The track builds in depth with rich new
age sailing-oriented arrangements that pass the melody from voice to
whistle to keyboard. Juliana's voice is most reminscent of Eimear Quinn
in clarity, style and texture. A children's choir (Lana and Hallam
Robinson and Eilidh Debbonnaire) adds texture to the chorus as the
track comes to its conclusion.
Steven Page wrote, "'From the Heart' has a feel to
it that is similar to that of Terry's earlier albums Cascade
Reverence. It opens with some wonderfully peaceful natural
sounds. Terry's flute comes in and you immediately find yourself
drifting with the music. It most definitely tugs on your heart strings
and fills you with all kinds of emotions."
The album's third track "When," while full of woodwind textures, is
complimented by the whispy tone of Karen Debonnaire's lead vocal and
the layered vocal choir. Sung in the style and textue of Márie
Brennan, Enya or Shanon (Ronan Hardiman's project), it is a lovely new
age ballad with several movements each rhytmically different that will
delight female vocal enthusiasts. The new age ballad "Sun In My Eyes"
is vocally even richer, with Karen demonstrating the crystalline
texture that she can achieve over light flute and acoustic guitar
accompaniment. The interplay between lead vocal and flute melodies is
dramatic and evocative. The instrumental "Down to Earth" features a
lovely reprise of the title track and concludes the album.
You can find further information, listen to soundbites and order
Terry Oldfield's album Across The Universe at his official
and at the New World Music label
website. A new age album with plenty of female vocals that
should entice Máire Brennan, Enya and Shanon enthusiasts, it should
be explored further. Worth a journey it is a nice and relaxing
Image © 2000
(04 September 2000) Terrence Yallop, founder of Real Music, formed
the EarthSea Institute to promote global environmental awareness. His
latest compilation is a benefit album entitled Cousteau's Dream
(Real Music (USA) RM4114, 2000) that features thirteen tracks from
the most popular new age artists. While largely instrumental, the
album includes selections from female vocal fronted artists as well.
Nautical themes dominate electronic and traditional instrumentation;
production, artwork and packaging are tops as we have come to expect
from Real Music releases. "Ranging from tribal to operatic, poignant
to passionate, Cousteau's Dream is a musical voyage of hope
and inspiration fo what one person can do to change the world."
Several ocean sound passages within the album evoke the producer's
The album's instrumental selections include two electronic
excursions from Vangelis ("West Across The Ocean Sea" and
"Eternity"), Kamal's "Shakuhaji Tales" and Richard Burmer's
"Sun's Comin' Out." Instrumentals are rich and blend nautical
themes with new age arrangements. No new age compilation would
be complete without a contribution by keyboard impressario Yanni
or his Japanese counterpart Kitaro. Yanni's richly orchestrated
"Secret Vows" from Out Of Silence (1987) and Kitaro's
nautical Japanese flavoured "Nageki" are both included. Female
choir sounds interplay with the flute (effect) melodies in
Kitaro's track. Kenny G's unmistakable saxophone delivers
the lovely melody in "Theme From Dying Young." "To Sleep
on Angel's Wings" by Kevin Kern is played softly on harp
which gives it a Celtic feel. "Future of the Sea" by Frederic
Delarue concludes the album blending whale sounds with light
Aria's "Un Bel Di" (from their debut recording) is perfectly
situated on this compilation with operatic vocals joining new age
style tribal rhythms. "Stella Maris" by 2002 from River Of Stars
(review) is an upbeat track and perhaps the
richest vocal number on the album, with lots of harmonies and light
strings—violin, acoustic guitar and harp—and flute carrying portions
of the melody. A delightful track with construction and vocals that
make it very Enya-like. A richly produced vocal choir joins an epic
range of orchestral and ethnically oriented instrumentation in Tim
Wheater's "Circle's Edge" from his 1999 album Incantation.
Vocals effectively exchange melodies with low whistle and other
instrumental parts and should delight Miriam Stockley's fans.
Heidi Fielding's soaring soprano vocalise dominates the otherwise
orchestral arrangements of "Lachrymosa" by Michael Hoppé.
You can find further reviews, listen to sound samples and order
Cousteau's Dream from amazon.com
here. From each purchase of a CD, approximately $2.50 will be donated
by Real Music's non-profit EarthSea Institute to the Cousteau Society and
organizations with similar goals of protecting and preserving the earth
and its inhabitents. A notable compilation of new age tracks certain
to please enthusiasts of this genre, we think it's worth further
exploration—a relaxing listen!
Image © 1999
B. C. Electrola
(04 September 2000) Roger Bellon and Harlan Collins' Highlander
- A Celtic Opera (B.C. Electola (USA) 001, 1999) is a professionally
produced recording in every respect. It has a running time of over 70
minutes. The project was written, composed and produced by Bellon and
Collins. Bellon also composed the music for Highlander The Series
and Highlander The Series - Volume II. Although (to our knowledge)
the opera has not been staged, the recording and accompanying package is
far more than a demo, although it may have been developed for that
purpose initially. Clearly the album is catching on with intense
audience interest expressed by comments made in the offial website's
The story spans a period from circa 1600 until the modern day,
takes place in Scotland and Paris and involves six characters:
Duncan MacLeod (Steve Amerson), Aurora (Karen Fineman), Frtagern
(Sean Wright), The Witch (Adelaide Sinclair), Mirrdhen (Virenia
Lind) and Dr. Rodia (Paul Stowe). Although labeled an opera, the
parts are clearly performed in a modern West End or Broadway musical
style. Instrumental arrangements are orchestral and are richly produced
in every respect. The album certainly presents the image of a soundtrack
from a major musical. Professionally sung and performed in every respect,
the album leads us to believe it would succeed in the theatre district.
We especially enjoyed the vocal parts sung by Steve Amerson and
Solo parts and those with the company are well sung and evocatively
performed. The variation in mood as the story unfolds is expertly
delivered. A modern West End musical-style story tells of
the immortal life of Duncan MacLeod and his first love Aurora who dies
in the first act. Set in Paris, a modern miracle brings about her
rebirth in the second act, but her love of another man drives Duncan
back to his homeland. She joins him again in the third act, however,
evil returns and slays her once more. The story blends bliss with
strife in a highly dramatic setting. It is well supported musically
both with the singing parts and orchestral arrangements.
You can order the album, listen to samples from it and read
further about the story at their official
The album blends classical operatic treatments with contemporary
Celtic themes. The full libretto is in English and is easy to follow.
Production quality and packaging of the album are superb. A whole
lot less expensive than an evening out in the theatre district, the
album is worthy of further exploration—a very nice and dramatic
Image © 2000
(04 September 2000) The debut self-titled album from
Damita Haddon is available on Atlantic records from September 26.
With her gospel R&B singing style, Damita inspires, moves and
delivers the "Truth" and the beauty of "Life," or the
passionate questing of "Why." Inspired by her faith,
Damita's emotion has become a trademark sound. The
Detroit native is no novice. She's sung with Aretha
Franklin—"It was a humbling experience, having one of
the greatest singers in the world ask me to sing with
her"—a seasoned stage performer and the wife of Gospel
star Deitrick Haddon.
Fresh out of high school, Damita toured with the Gospel
theater production Mama Don't. She realized that this
was what she was meant to be doing with her life. Now with
a new group of R&B producers, Damita could create the sound
she was looking for. Damita says that it "added the hot
sauce—the pepper—to the mix. They helped give me the
urban street edge."
Damita recognizes the source of her trademark sound.
"The songs on the album lyrically can go both ways. They
can either be about a loved one or God. But no matter
what kind of music you're singing, you know that God has
placed this finger or even his fingernail upon it. It's
something you just can't copy."
"Why," "Truth," "Life" and "Spirit Inside" have this
strong R&B edge to them that makes you want to move
to the music. However, if you sit and listen to the
words carefully, Damita's voice tells the meaning of
her music and its very powerful. "Cavalry" sets the first
four tracks apart from this one. The first ballad on
the album is a beautifully sung religious song that brings
out Damita's voice. The upbeat track "Hold On To Your Faith"
adds a gospel choir and rich instrumental arrangements
that blend nicely with Damita's voice. The track clearly
emerges from the rest as one of the best on the album.
"I Can Feel Him" has a more of an R&B beat where her style
is most reminscent of R&B artist Monica. The words on
each of these tracks are very powerful, are delivered by
the artist evocatively and shouldn't be taken lightly.
"If I Ever" and "Won't Be Afraid" are upbeat ballads
more of an R&B style than Gospel. However the Gospel
comes out again in the words of the songs. "Real Friend"
takes Damita's faith into the song and shows that Christ
is her way and her faith. "The Wedding Song," "Day Go
By" and "Holdin' On," all ballads, are sung by Damita
more in a soul style than anything else. It is a
beatiful flow of voice and words that are so moving
to the human ear.
Damita is very interested in reaching fresh ears and
the hearts and minds of the young. "I'm sure they'll
like the music," she says, "because they'll know I
haven't forgotten them. And they want to be heard.
Music plays a big part in how kids react. We've got
to communicate. Sometimes you can get a little too
"urban" or sometimes a little too "mature." That's
why the album strikes a balance."
Produced by leading cutting edge hip-hop Atlanta
producer Arif Martin and husband Deitrick Haddon,
Damita adds the diverse depth and grace that is
needed for a world class album. You can order
Damita's self-titled album, read editorial reviews
and hear soundbites at amazon.com
here. A well-produced R&B Gospel crossover album,
it is a very nice listen!—Deborah J Elliot
Image © 2000
(04 September 2000) The debut album from Before Dark entitled
Daydreamin' (RCA (USA) RADV 67691-2, 2000) was released in
July. Before Dark—Mia, Arike and Jeni G—deliver a mix of R&B and
hip-hop on their debut album and share the same goal of living each
day to the fullest and striving to achieve as much as possible before
they are too old. This goal is the meaning of the group's name
Before Dark had two hit singles in 1999—"Come Correct" and "Baby."
Those two songs set the stage for the rhythmic tune "Monica." Before Dark
have made a video for this track and is airing on The Box Music Network.
Daydreamin' is a mixture of harmonic voices fast beats, slow jams
and passionate lyrics. Even though the group says they still have a lot
to learn about. "We may be young and inexperienced in the deeper aspects
of love relationships," says Arike, "but we know how it feels to really
care about a guy, and the happiness and pain that goes with it. It
comes from honest feeling and real emotion, but not necessarily actual
The "Jazzy Interlude: Going to the Movies" sets a base for what we
are to expect from Before Dark. We hear that these girls are unique
and we are introduced to what they can do in "How Could You." This
track is fast and upbeat; the harmonic voices blend together perfectly.
"Monica," the most recent track released off of the album, is another
upbeat track. The song is much smoother and brings out the R&B in
the group's sound. These two tracks deal with popular issues of "she's
trying to take my man" or "how could you do this to me."
"As Far As They Know" is another upbeat song that is more hip-hopish
sounding like the musical artist Pink. "Baby," another upbeat song,
brings back the R&B flow in Before Dark. "Always On My Mind." the
first ballad on the album takes an R&B beat to it with the the three
voices making perfect harmony. The tracks show that Before Dark
feels true emotions for love with powerful deep meaning words. The
passionate R&B ballad "It's All About You" seems as though it takes a
real love situation and it was put into a beautiful song. Harmony
fueled, the song relaxes just before the interlude into "Come
Correct." This upbeat song is much more hip-hop based and much
less harmonic voices but it shows the versatility of the group.
"Tough Love" is a powerful R&B rocker, hungry for love and emotion
while the title track "Daydreamin'" is a beautiful harmonic mid-tempo
masterpiece. "She (Could Never Be Me)" is a moving track that blends
R&B and hip-hop together with three lovely voices evocatively singing
from a deep emotional experience. "Push-N-Shove" and "Back Around"
conclude the album blending vocal harmonies with hip-hop beats.
These super talented young ladies possess strong, wide-ranging
voices, an energetic, fresh visual presentation and the determination
to succeeed, all of which are sure to take Before Dark further into
the limelight. You can order Before Dark's Daydreamin', read
editorial reviews and hear soundbites at amazon.com
here. A well-produced R&B album, from an up-n-coming female trio, it
is a very nice listen!-Deborah J Elliot