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Astrid van der Veen
J P Capdevielle
Linda van der Veen
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Image © 2000 Astrid van der Veen
Astrid van der Veen
Image © 2001 Transmission Records
(29 July 2001) The debut album by Dutch recording artist
Astrid van der Veen entitled Beautiful Red (2000) is
comprised of fifteen tracks written and arranged by the artist
when she was only 14 years old. Musical Discoveries' visitors
should be well-acquainted with Astrid from our interview with
the artist and a review of her collaboration work with Arjen
Anthony Lucassen on Ambeon's Fate of a Dreamer
and Ayreonauts Only
(review). The material
from Beautiful Red precedes both of these projects and
led Lucassen to work with Astrid on the Ambeon project.
A fantastic introduction to Astrid van der Veen's vocal prowess,
the tracks on Beautiful Red are predominantly ballads sung
with tremendous emotion and accompanied by simple piano arrangements.
Already acclaimed by the music press, Astrid has regularly been
compared to both Tori Amos and Kate Bush and it is easy to recognise
the similarity to both of these artist's early work in Astrid's
vocal delivery. Her classical training, power and range are
immediately evident in the album's title track where vocals soar
almost to the point of distortion.
The sweetness in Astrid's voice is evident in the vast number
of love songs found on the album. How such a young artist can
create such sensitive lyrics drawing on life long experiences
amazed the editorial staff at Musical Discoveries' headquarters.
An occasional multi-track adds depth and texture to several of
the numbers but the album is primarily comprised of solo vocal
excursionss exploring the artist's range accompanied by stark
Astrid's soaring vocals are perfectly offset by harpsichord-style
keyboards in "Reborn," one of the album's standouts. "Carosel" is
a happier song, evidenced by the prominence of the piano melody
in and multi-tracked vocals in the arrangement. "Soulmaster" is
incredibly melodic, with lusher vocal arrangements blending perfectly
with the piano accompaniment.
A significantly contrasting upbeat and pop-style track entitled
"I Guess" is more richly arranged with keyboards and drum machine
rounding out the sound. Astrid's range is tremendous; the chorus
has a real hook and multi-tracked vocals contribute significantly
to the overall accessibility of the song. The heartfelt "So Much
More," evocative "Open Hearted" and sensitive warmly delivered
"Yours" that closes the album further illustrate the incredible
power and range of this stunning vocalist.
The compact disc is currently pressed on CD-R and is accompanied
by artwork designed by Astrid's sister Linda. It is presently not
commercially available through regular online retailers. But
interested visitors can obtain the album directly from the artist
and contact her by visiting her
worth a journey, this debut from Astrid van der Veen should be
sought out as it is a must listen!
Image © 2001 New World Music
Image © 2001 New World Music
(29 July 2001) The latest release from Sally Oldfield follows
ten successful albums and comprised of eight varying length
tracks is entitled Flaming Star (New World Music (UK) NWCD
506, 2001). Richly produced, Sally's beautiful vocals are combined
with intricate harmonies, passionate bass rhythms, earthy percussion
and divine keyboards to create a powerful contemporary album.
From the extremely strong opening title track, to the modern
remix of her hit single "Mirrors," Sally demonstrates the beauty
and heavenly quality of her music.
Sally Oldfield, sister of Mike and Terry (both reviewed at
Musicial Discoveries) Oldfield began her musical career in the
late 1970s after leaving Bristol University where she studied
English literature and philosophy. She had planned to go on
to do a PhD in these subjects but as a result of a powerful
and unexpected experience of spiritual revelation, suddenly
found herself creating her own songs. She dropped all worldly
pursuits to follow a path of spiritual discovery and to
attempt to express the results of that in her music.
Her first single "Mirrors" on Bronze Records in 1980 was a
world-wide success and coupled with her first album Water
Bearer established her as an unusual and original artist
with roots in various musical genres such as pop, dance, new
age, and more recently sci-fi and space age music.
The album's tracks span a vast range of styles with instrumental
and vocal arrangements blending everything from pop to world. It
will certainly appeal to enthusiasts of Miriam Stockley, Praise
and Enya. The title track "Flaming Star" will blow the listener
away with it's lushness while the jazz and world sounds
of "Samurai of the Sun" will gently rock tensions away from the
most stressful situation. The gentle new age sound of "Bird of
Paradise" is dominated by a soaring and sweetly sung lead vocal,
somewhat reminscent of Siân James in parts and Beautiful World
While the album's material is excellent in its own right, various
combinations of Sally Oldfield, Martin Savale, Robyn Smith are
credited with the outstanding production and Kevin Kendle at
Eventide Music for mastering the recording. Tremendous instrumental
and vocal imaging result from Gregg Jackmann's mixing at Radiation
Bungalow. The album was completed in March 2001.
"Ascension" is most reminscent of the world sounds on the two
Beautiful World albums. It's rhythmic texture perfectly suits its
melody while lovely vocal harmonies contribute to the overall sound
and blends into the worldly "One to the Power of One" and Sally's
sensuously soaring lead vocal. A stunning extended bass-oriented
remix of "Mirrors," building on the production quality of the tracks
that precede it, concludes the album.
Sally Oldfield's latest album Flaming Star is a stunning
project that will delight her long-term fans as well as those that
discover her with this project.
You can find further information on Sally Oldfield at the New World Music
website. Read further
reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com
here. Certainly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, Flaming Star
is a must listen!
The May Street Project
Image © 2001 RCA Records
(29 July 2001) Shea Seger is an artist whose songs resonate with
rare passion and power. She has created her own engaging southern
soul sound, one she describes as "mutt dog ... bluesy pop with
beats." Her debut album, The May Street Project (RCA
Records (USA) RADV 69382-2, 2000), according to BMG, "was recorded
in London, yet pulsates with the languid rhythms of life and love
in smalltown America. From the rueful opener "Last Time," to the
evocative sweep of "Walk On Rainbows," to the gritty observation
of "May Street," this is an astonishingly original debut." Shea
has been compared favourably to Sheryl Crow, Fiona Apple, Alanis
Morissette, Meredith Brooks and Bjork.
Shea was born in Fort Worth, Texas and grew up in Quitman,
a tiny Texan town of 1200 people. In her sound, you'll hear a broad
variety of musical influences, such as the raw emotion of Janis
Joplin, the soulful sensuality of Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye,
and the quirkiness of Rickie Lee Jones. Her label writes, "there's
the mind expansion of "daisy age" hip-hop acts like A Tribe Called
Quest, De La Soul and Arrested Development. There are hints of all
these sounds, plus a liberal smattering of Nashville strings on
The album was mixed by Commissioner Gordon (Lauryn Hill), and
stand-out tracks include the catchy first song "Last Time," the
bluesy fantasy "Isn't It Good," and the atmospheric "I Love You
Too Much." While all songs won't appeal to Musical Discoveries'
most frenquent visitors, the track "Clutch" certainly will. It
is a collaboration with Shea's best friend and instantly leaps
out of the eclectic body of work. There's also "Always," a
melodic duet with singer songwriter Ron Sexsmith, and most
poignant of all is the title track, "May Street," a chilling
trippy account of life in Shea's hometown that was written and
recorded live in one take.
As for the making of the album, Shea couldn't have asked for
a more supportive environment. "We had a great time doing it,"
she recalls. "You want to find people who can tap into what
you're doing to balance things out, and, most importantly,
be real. That's what I had." Shea's latest space odyssey is
about to begin. Whether she' plays for 100,000 or 100, for
Shea Seger the point is always about touching her listeners
one at a time. "My songs are simply honest stories," she
says. "And I just tell them the way I see them."
While some of the rap-style tracks did nothing for us, this
otherwise compelling album is an excellent introduction to this
young recording artist.
The May Street Project stands as a confessional, soulful
debut, heralding the arrival of an uncommonly gifted singer songwriter.
Read further interviews, listen to soundbites and order the album
here. Explore this one further—it is a nice listen!
Leonardo-The Absolute Man
Image © 2001 Magna Carta Records
Featured Artist: Michelle Young
Image © 2001 M Young
Featured Artist: Lisa Bouchelle
Image © 1999 Linda Shulman
(29 July 2001) An "original cast recording," perhaps due to the plan
to stage it sometime in the future, the latest project from Trent Gardner
is an account of the life of Leonardo DaVinci entitled Leonardo-The
Absolute Man (Magna Carta (USA) MA-9029-2). Leonardo sounds
like no other progressive rock construct you have ever heard. An 18-track
recording with a running length of over an hour, Leonardo is a mix
of cinematic progressive rock, symphonic rock, progressive pop and
progressive metal, graced and articulated by true classical music and
the theatrical scope of state-of-the-art soundtrack or dramatic stage
music. With an opening that could have been written by Basil Polodouris,
the album features stunning vocal work from two Musical Discoveries featured
artists: Michelle Young and
Leonardo will delight a broad variety of progressive rock enthusiasts
and it can be most favourably compared to Clive Nolan's Jabberwocky
(review) and Arjen Anthony Lucassen's
Ayreon albums (reviews and
more reviews). The story has been heavily
researched and this extensive project is the culmination of years of work
by the Magna Carta label.
As an album, the instantly impressionable characteristic is the variety
of talented vocalists who are given roles that advance, take centre stage,
fade, and incredibly, engage in dialogues and full-on choral arrangement
as the story dictates. "There's something like 21 performers on this,"
notes Gardner. "The main charcater, Leonardo, is played by Dream Theater's
James LaBrie. James has pulled off, in my opinion, the vocal performance
of his life. James has not only operatic training, he's got some
theatrical study as well. Bringing him into this is probably the single
best decision we made in the process. I gave him some challenging stuff
to do. He's covering two areas, the real dramatic, piano, vocal-based
themes, to the hard, heavy edged stuff, he's do solos, duets ... the
range throughout the album."
Gardner continued, "Instead of one singer singing a song, you have different
people coming in and out within one song. And the accumulation of all this
vocal activity creates a lot of excitement." In addition to Michelle Young
and Lisa Bouchelle, the album's other vocalists include Davey Pattison,
Josh Pincus, Mike Baker, Trent Gardner, Robert Berry, Steve Walsh, Chris
Shryack and Bret Douglas.
The album opens with an orchestrally arranged theme reminscent of a
motion picture or West End show opening sequence entitled "Apparition";
the horn arrangements are incredible. A second shorter, and more modern
keyboard and guitar-laced instrumental, entitled "Aria For Italy" follows
immediately. The story opens with the gentle ballad "With Father,"
perfectly and immediately illustrating James LaBrie's vocal prowess and
classical training. The heavier progressive rock side of the album takes
hold in the rocking tune "Reins Of Tuscan" sung by LaBrie in various
combinations with the chorus, Michelle Young and others. A rapid fire
piano solo during the instrumental bridge is quite notable.
A lovely orchestral arrangement with crisp percussion entitled "Reproach"
serves as an instrumental bridge between tracks and introduces LaBrie's
extended West End theatre-style number "Mona Lisa," sung with the chorus,
Michelle Young and others, building with instrumental and vocal intensity
while changing melodies and musical textures; the choruses may remind some
listeners of Queen's mid-career work. "Il Divino" is a dynamic keyboard-
and metal-edged guitar progressive instrumental while "Inundation" is
short and somewhat gentler, with harpsichord- and orchestral-style
keyboards carrying the melody, serving to bridge to the vocal number
"Apprentice" is certainly the heaviest number on the album with bold
electric guitar and bass driving the theme. The 'students' adds to
the metal texture of the track which is contrasted by symphonic style
keyboards and the chorus. Michelle Young (as Catarina) and Steve Walsh
are featured on the "First Commission" duet. Michelle's sweet
multi-tracked vocals effectively blend with orchestral and acoustic
arrangements and quite notably contrasts Steve's part.
A choral-backed instrumental recants the Leonardo theme in
"Mother Of God" which precedes Lisa Bouchelle (as Mona Lisa) and James
LaBrie's West End progressive pop-style duet "This Time This Way."
Lisa's part is bold and powerful, recorded with minimal effects.
Her fans will be delighted with her solo verse, a multi-tracked
chorus and soaring excursions during the track's final movement.
Interested visitors should note that Lisa is also featured in
Robert Berry's Wheel Of Time reviewed below.
"Inventions" is another heavy rock number dominated by thick guitar
and keyboard arrangements, but the vocals are never drowned out—sung
primarily by James LaBrie, every workd is perfectly understandable.
Accompanied initially by piano and light keyboard, "Shaping The
Invincible" is and emotionally sung ballad with LaBrie's vocals
soaring as the piece builds to a crescendo with progressive rock
The regal and orchestral arrangement of "Introduction to
Francois I" precedes the extended theatrical number "Heart of
France" perfectly blending progressive rock with a West End
sound serving as an initial conclusion to the project with
Leonardo's death. Labrie's vocals, the chorus, guitars and
keyboards are blended perfectly with themes introduced earlier
in the album reappearing within the arrangement. The final
two tracks of the album are the dark and percussion-intensive
instrumental "Sacrament" and brighter keyboard and operatic
"End Of A World" that concludes the album.
Musical Discoveries editors have anxiously awaited the arrival of
Leonardo-The Absolute Man for quite a long time and by all means
the album was worth the wait.
Well written and perfectly produced, the artists' individual contributions
have been brought together into a cohesive progressive rock masterwork.
Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from
Certainly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, Leonardo-The Absolute Man
is by every account a must listen!
Image © 2001 Pendragon Records
Image © 2001 Pendragon Records
Image © 2001 Pendragon Records
Image © 2001 Pendragon Records
Jade Laura d'Angelis
Image © 2001 Pendragon Records
(29 July 2001) The latest album from Jean-Patrick Capdevielle is
entitled Atylantos (Pendragon Records (France) / Phillips 468
482-2, 2001). The legend is a universal myth dating back to the
dawn of time, yet more contemporary today than ever. Now as then,
progress and wealth come at a terrible price: one man's happiness
is often another's suffering.
The contemporary classical crossover project, sung in 14th century
Italian, features three stunning sopranos—Chiara Zeffirelli, Elena Cojocaru,
Jade Laura d'Angelis—and tenor Nikola Todorovich. This project will
undoubtedly appeal to those that follow the internationally acclaimed
Emma Shapplin. Full biographies, photographs and a music video featuring
the artists are available at Pendragon Records'
Jean-Patrick Capdevielle's previous release was Emma Shapplin's
Carmine Meo (review).
Actually sung by Crystèle Joliton as part of a six album contract,
Emma Shapplin is a brand name and trademark name of Pendragon
Records. Still using the name Emma Shapplin, Joliton's work on the
Red Planet soundtrack was actually recorded in breach of her
contract with the label. Capdevielle has selected three equally
gorgeous and vocally stunning female vocalists to sing in
Atylantos; their work will delight Emma Shapplin enthusiasts.
The first vocal number is a moving ballad sung by Chiara Zeffirelli
entitled "Legge Senza Legge" backed with a full chorus and orchestra.
Chiara was just a wild child, who sang on her own as she roamed the
parched Provence scrubland, until she caught the attention of an
opera singer who had taken up teaching in retirement. The ex-diva
took the wild child under her wing and soon Chiara began singing in
public, at marriages and pulling in the crowds at village festivals,
concerts in churches, etc.
Chiara, who also sings stunning leads on "Altri Che 'L Sol," "Si
Fosse Gia Com' Io Fu," and "Il Regno D'Il Cor," came to Jean-Patrick's
notice while he was preparing Carmine Meo. Prior engagements,
sadly, prevented her from singing on the album. She regretted this for
three years until…the story took up where it had left off! Jean-Patrick
had by no means forgotten Chiara and cast her as Aïra, Atylantos's
betrayed princess. As lead vocalist in the Atylantos project,
Chiara's voice soars through an incredible range in each of her solos
and will without a doubt remind listeners of the Carmine Meo
"La Diosa Fredda" is an upbeat contemporary and dramatic piece
sung by all of the album's vocalists and its modern arrangement likely
led to its selection as the first video track. A choral number entitled
"O Servito A Signor Crudele" precedes the album's closing number "Destin
Sbandito" which features solos by Chiara, Elena and Nikola.
Nikola takes the lead in "U Sono Or Le Ricchezze?" and provides a
tremendous operatic performance supported by a robust chorus. When he
was six, he was already hiding away in his room to listen to Tosca, afraid
his football friends would make fun of him if they found out. Waiting
for the voice he inherited from his father to be mature enough to train,
Nikola graduated in percussion at the Montpellier Academy of Music.
After military service in the French Army Choir, he studied under Jeanne
Berbier and later with Michel Sénéchal at the Paris Conservatoire then
at the Paris Opera School.
He left to try his luck in Italy in 1993, where he forged a promising
operatic career in Verona, Milan and in Sicily, accumulating prizes and
lead roles: an almost unimaginable dream come true for a relatively
inexperienced young French singer. His sister, Marie-Ange Todorovitch,
a leading mezzo-soprano in Europe and the United States, is one of his
mentors. Restoring opera's popular appeal always having been one of Nikola's
central concerns, so he enthusiastically took up Jean-Patrick Capdevielle's
offer to sing the male lead in Atylantos: M'Bad, the Thief from Distant
Elena Cojocaru's first solo is highly operatic—performed with choir
only as accompaniment—in the track entitled "Dolce Sentier." The sound
is a classical operatic departure from typical Emma Shapplin. Thanks
to her music-loving parents, Elena was steeped in classical music
even before she could walk. One of her sisters plays guitar,
another viola, and one of her brothers the cello. Elena began by
learning the piano but as soon as she discovered her voice at 14
years old she immediately began training it, certain she would be
a singer one day, that singing would be her whole life.
In Bucharest, forging an opera career isn't that simple. After
receiving the Romanian National Academy of Music's highest distinction,
Elena joined her eldest sister in France and had no difficulty in
entering the Paris Conservatoire, where she soon became a pupil of
the great soprano Mireille Alcantara. Despite her classical training,
she still remained open to other kinds of music and sung in Vent
d'Est, a show blending classical and jazz. Atylantos' innovation
and passion seduced her; JPC cast her as Kemia, Aïra's sister, the
princess who destroys everything through love and jealousy. Elena
returns in "Ferra Ventura" where she sings a dramatic piece above
the chorus and a duet with Nikola. She is also featured in the
closing number "Destin Sbandito" with the other vocalists.
Jade Laura d'Angelis sings the lead vocal backed by the choir
the stunning Shapplin-style "Bellezza Divina." To be both an opera
singer and a ballet dancer is rare to say the least. To be acclaimed
in both disciplines is well nigh impossible. But then Jade is a special
case. By the time she was twenty she had been dancing at the Paris
Opera sixteen years. As a solo dancer and a singer she appeared on
a TV show where she was noticed by the producers of the stage musical
Cats. Soon after she had signed for Cats, she injured a leg on stage
in mid-show; she was told dancing was over, that she might never
walk properly again.
But this only quadrupled her determination. Jade decided it was time
to turn to her true passion: singing, and after only six months of work,
there she was back on stage, starring with Roberto Alagna in Lucia
di Lammermoor, acclaimed by public and critics. At the beginning of
2000, her childhood dream came true when she sang La Traviata.
She enthusiastically accepted the role in Atylantos Capdevielle offered
her: Hemera, the enchantress transformed into an evil mermaid through
unrequited love. Jade returns to sing solo in the Shapplin-style
and most sensual ballad "Dolce Veneno."
Jean-Patrick Capdevielle's latest album Atylantos is certain
to appeal to fans of Sarah Brightman, Filippa Giordano, Izzy and of
course Emma Shapplin. Narrated in English by John Greaves, the artists'
performances and instrumental arrangements are stunning. The booklet
accompanying the compact disc has lovely photographs of the soloists
and a full libretto. Although currently available from popular European
online retailers, the album is not yet released in America.
Read other reviews (in French) at amazon.fr
here; additional information (in English), soundbites, photographs and
video are available at the Pendragon Records'
Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, this album is a must
Soundtrack For The Wheel Of Time
Image © 2001 Magna Carta Records
Featured Artist: Lisa Bouchelle
Image © 2001 Paul Wesley
(29 July 2001) A Soundtrack For The Wheel Of Time—performed,
produced and written by Robert Berry—is one of two stunning progressive
rock projects out this summer from Magna Carta (USA) (Cat No. MA-9052-2,
2001) with vocal contributions by featured artist
The Wheel Of Time series of fantasy novels is one of the most
successful, longest running and most closely followed of all the works
in this genre. Author Robert Jordan's brilliantly written tales
have been at the top of The New York Times Best Sellers list
since 1990. Described as a modern day Tolkien, Jordon has created a
universe inhabited by wildly imaginative characters and creatures.
The soundtrack was written to be the perfect musical accompaniment
for the books and also as a great listening experience. Robert Berry
created a musical environment that reflects the drama and action
found in the words of the written works. He took a musical path that
suits the style of books some claim it is hard to imagine any other
approach but the one he has taken. The 19-track album is largely
instrumental, blending Celtic with Pink Floyd, with more of a motion
picture texture than Mostly Autumn's instrumental numbers that combine
the same musical elements
The label found that early listeners and fans of the books were
thrilled with the manner in which the music delivered the cinematic
images described in Jordan's books. Berry has been recognised a quality
artist ever since his early years with the band "3" (along with Keith
Emerson and Carl Palmer) and the group Asia.
Contributing to the continuity of the Wheel Of Time book series,
the compact disc cover artwork was painted by renownede fantasy artist
Darrell K. Sweet whose paintings graced the covers of all nine Wheel Of
Time books. Liner notes are simple and accompanied by this brief
statement from the books' author, "Music has always been an integral
part of my writing. Not only do I write to music, but I think of my
writing in terms of music. The words must flow in certain rhythms, and
the story has its own rhythms. In a way, it's like orchestrating the
A certain standout track on the album is the anthemic "Ladies of the
Tower" featuring Lisa Bouchelle's soaring powerful lead vocals. Accompanied
by acoustic guitar, crisp percussion and keyboards, harmony vocals achieved
through multi-tracking also add a lovely texture. The acoustic guitar solo
during the instrumental bridge is also notable.
The album is an instrumental masterpiece blending Celtic styles with
progressive and traditional acoustic instruments with modern arrangements.
An instrumental standout track is progressive treatment of "The Winespring
Reel," most reminscent of some of Mostly Autumn's most recent numbers.
While "A Theme For The Wheel Of Time" is one of a small number of tracks
that contain sung parts, the soundtrack-style instrumentals are quite
enjoyable and will certainly appeal to Clannad, Capercaillie, Mostly Autumn
and even Karnataka enthusiasts.
While vocally more sparse than many of the albums reviewed regularly at
Musical Discoveries, the strong cinematic and progressive rock texture of
this album makes it especially appealing.
We applaud both Robert Berry and Magna Carta on the project and especially
appreciate Lisa Bouchelle's vocal contribution.
Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order Wheel Of Time
here. Certain to appeal to Celtic-oriented soundtrack lovers and
instrumental progressive rock lovers, this album is worth further exploration.
It is worth a journey—a very nice listen!
Always the right way,
Always the wrong
Image © 2001 Railway
(29 July 2001) The debut album from Linda van der Veen and Arjan Hoekstra
performing as Railway is entitled Always the right way Always the wrong.
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Twin-Bull in Holland, the eight-track album,
like Astrid van der Veen's Beautiful Red reviewed above is available
only on CD-R and can be obtained from the artists'
Vocals are performed by Linda and Arjan whilst Arjan plays guitar and piano.
We were immediately reminded of Grey Eye Glances earliest recordings both
in the style and structure, but also in the vocal similarity between Linda
and Jennifer Nobel. Linda's voice has a folky texture, perfectly suited to
the light acoustic Railway arrangements. Compared to her younger sister's
work Linda's vocals are whispier but share in the well trained and emotionally
evocative delivery. All music and lyrics for the album are written by Arjan
Hoekstra, except "Feelings," music and lyrics by Linda van der Veen and
"Julian," covered from K's Choice.
The album opens with a slowly folk rock number entitled "Allright" that
the two artists sing together over light acoustic guitar. Linda's vocal
power is immediately evident in the opening verses. The album's title is
derived from the lyrics of the moody track "Silence" with multi-tracked
vocal harmonies, guitar and keyboard accompanying. "Thunder & Lightning"
is a lovely heartfelt ballad sung by the two artists together with some
multi-tracked harmonies and a delicate piano arrangement.
The maturity, range and power in Linda's voice is most evident in her
bluesy delivery of "Feelings." Arjan does a tremendous job singing lead while
playing electric guitar in the almost-country style tune entitled "The
Fly" a track where Linda provides backing vocals. Linda's evocative vocal
in the "I Believe" ballad accompanied by Arjan on piano is sensually sung
with depth, texture and presence like Rachel Jones from Karnataka
A short bluesy track sung by both artists entitled "Prison" precedes
the album's closing number "Julian," a cover of a heartfelt ballad written
and originally performed by K's Choice. Perhaps most illustrative of
Linda's vocal prowess, it spans her entire range and demonstrates her
depth. Arjen joins with backing vocal harmonies and accompanies Linda
The debut album from Railway is a fantastic introduction to vocalist
Linda van der Veen and band mate Arjan Hoekstra. Simply produced yet
well written and equally well performed, it illustrates the raw talent
of two artists we'll likely hear more from in the future. Clearly worth
further exploration we recommend checking out the soundbites and further
information at the group's website.
Interested visitors will find the project is worth a journey and that the
album is a very nice listen!
Feather and Fate
Image © 2001 Project Records
(29 July 2001) The third album by vocalist Lisa Hammer and
multi-instrumentalist Eric Hammer performing as Mors Syphilitica
is a 14-track project entitled Feather and Fate
(Projekt (USA) Projekt 118, 2001). It is their first release on
Projekt Records who now handle the group's promotion and distribution.
Eric insists on performing the instrumentals on the albums himself to
achieve his aims for sonic purity. The duo are joined by David
Mecionis (bass) and Hajji Majer (drums) when they perform on stage.
Listeners will instantly appreciate the duo's attention to detail
from first listen with the lushness of the arrangements and Lisa Hammer's
lovely soaring vocal excursions. A modern interpretation of the earlier
gothic genre, the group's music draws on roots of various ethnic cultures,
but it is first and foremost vocally strong. The music is quite moody
and dark in places. We preferred the brighter numbers and focused attention
heavily on "The Hues Of Longing," a Renaissance-style track with layers
of vocals and shimmering guitars that opens the album.
"Naturally Cruel" is a modern gothic-style anthemic track with
seriously sung vocals and further shimmering electric guitars. Although
Lisa's vocals were set back in the mix, we found the excursions to the
higher notes quite intriguing. "Only A Whirlwind," "Fountain Of Tears"
and "Galatea" continue to build the theme in a similar style, while
"The Chains of Reason" has harder electric guitar parts and more
dramatically daunting vocal excursions.
The album's ethnic-oriented tracks provide an interesting contrast
to the other numbers. The middle-eastern texture of the title track
and standout track "My Virgin Widows" are notable examples; here Lisa's
vocals soar delightfully above the crisply played instrumentals and vocal
harmonies. We especially appreciated the layers of Lisa's vocal work in
"Glorious Breath," one of the album's moodier tracks.
"Nostalgia's Sea" and "A Fever Dream" are more symphonic and vocally
brighter, as rich vocally as they are melodic instrumentally. "Sins Of The
Dove" is one of the album's brightest track blending gothic with lush
progressive and folk arrangements; Lisa's multi-tracked vocals are
absolutely delightful. The album concludes with the rhythmic "How Long"
with similarly lush vocal harmonies.
The latest release from Mors Syphilitica Feather and Fate
will serve long-time enthusiasts and new discoverers equally well. An
album with a modern gothic edge and stunning female vocals, it should
appeal to a broad audience.
Sample the sounds and read more about
the band at their website.
Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from
here. Certain to delight female vocal enthusiasts, this album is
worth further exploration. Take a journey today, this one is a nice
Image © 2001 New World Music
(29 July 2001) Initially discovered by Musical Discoveries in 1998,
F.R.E.U.D.'s Time Passengers
has been re-issued with up-to-date
liner notes including excerpts from our review on a new label (New
World Music (UK) NW-498, 2001). F.R.E.U.D. is Cora O'Donovan (lead
vocals) and Ingo Hauss (keyboards). The duo are supported by a vast
number of supporting artists.
The songs range from the highly accessible and almost pop-sounding
"Worlds Of Wonder" to the bluesy "Skies Above Loveland" to the dreamy,
almost Gothic, heavily instrumental texture of the title track.
Arrangement and production are rich throughout with equally influential
treatment of the deepest bass and highest flute. Synthesizer is used
to wonderful effect to lay a rich foundation for Cora's stunning vocals.
Choral elements blend into the instrumentals in several non-lyrical
"Euphoria" is an upbeat and melodic new age track heavily laced
with vocal energy, synthesizer, guitar and bass. Combined with Cora
Donovan's multi-tracked lead vocals, the choir is used to great effect
to produce a very rich overall sound. Although remaining vocal-led,
"The Miracle Of Moona" demonstrates the diversity of the group's
instrumental talents with a more extensive display of string passages
provided by guitar, violin and piano. Synthesizer effectively links
the instrumental elements of the almost epic-production together.
An almost dance-oriented track called "Eternal" further explores
the band's diverse range of talents. Here dreamy multi-tracked vocals
carry above percussion- and bass-provided rhythms. Both choir and
whispery vocals are used to create the overall sound.
"Fairyland," like "Worlds Of Wonder" is a highly accessible, almost
pop-sounding track with lead vocal equally balanced with instrumental
and rhythmic backing. Instrumental bridges feature very delicate
acoustic guitar and wonderful keyboard passages. The chorus has quite
a hook. Perhaps the most powerful string session on the album can be heard
in "History Of The Sandman" which features both violin and piano. An
almost-Gregorian chant provides a rich bass texture to the song.
With a chorus that reminds us in structure of a lullaby, the
6:48-long "Sleep" is one of the more Enya-sounding songs on the album
in the way the backing vocals and instrumentals underscore and support
the lead vocals. Brief whispy narrative passages within the song join
instrumental bridges to connect the choruses. This is a stunning song
that most fully illustrates Cora's vocal energy and Hauss' composition
skills. The album concludes with two instrumental-based tracks almost
absent of vocals. Natural rain sounds are produced
electronically to effectively support the relaxing theme of
"Rain Temple" while the church organ completes the temple
effect. "Minuit" begins with a highly industrial texture delivered
with simulated air traffic control radio traffic before the synthesizers
take over the song.
Although we were attracted to this album way back when by it's
Enya-like qualities, clearly the group have done a lot more in their
eleven debut album tracks. Time Passangers is a truly excellent
new age album—and a wonderful discovery—that illustrates tremendous
diversity of a new ensemble of talented musicians.
We are informed by the producer that a second album is in the works. Stay
tuned to Musical Discoveries for information on it.
Read further reviews,
listen to soundbites and order this album from amazon.com
As it was when initially reviewed here, F.R.E.U.D.'s Time Passengers
remains a classic. Worth a trans-Atlantic journey, it is a must listen!
Image © 2001 Epiphany Records
(31 July 2001)
The self-titled release from Epiphany Project is a chilling, but emotionally
compelling collection of folk/Celtic/pop melodies. Vocalist Bet Williams' sings
with both clarity and power in a style quite reminiscent of Connie Dover or Laura
Powers with a dash of Tori Amos's uncanny emotiveness thrown in for good measure.
Be sure to stop back to check our review of Bet Williams Rose Tatoo which
is planned for our next digest.
A well-practiced troubadour in the truest sense, Bet has been singing and writing
songs for over a decade, travelling across the United States and performing on
stage with the likes of Joan Osborne, John Gorka, and Arlo Guthrie. Johm Hodian,
the other half of Epiphany Project, is a highly accomplished pianist and composer
who has scored hundreds of soundtracks for film, documentaries, and dance company
and theatre performances. Bet and John are joined on this recording by a wide
array of musicians who contribute to the beauty and richness of each song by
providing percussion, strings, and guitar to the musical tapestry.
While each song on the album has its own strengths, several tracks deserve special
mention. The song "Lockerbie" commemorates the 270 people who lost their lives in
the Pan Am 103 flight disaster in 1988. Suprisingly fierce in tone, "Lockerbie"
evokes a mood of Celtic/tribal epic-ness that is somehow appropriate in the way
that Gordon Lighfoot's "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" so masterfully recalled
the sinking of the great ship. "Tubwayhun" is a rousing but haunting musical
interpretation of the Beatitudes sung in Aramic. Bet's ever-present voice
chimes in beautifully while John's piano flourishes propel the song forward in
a lively fashion. The melancholic "To the Lighthouse" is an icy piece that
features John's deeply stirring piano and Bet's lyric-less vocalisations.
Another standout track is the mesmerizing neo-classical "Goth." Here, Bet's
overdubbed vocals create a basso-continuo effect over which a thrilling harmonic
arrangement swirls. Listeners should also be aware that the album contains a
wonderful untitled hidden track at the end of the album. Part Kate Bush, part
Portishead, this closing piece features an unusual fin de siecle piano melody
paired with Bet's vocals that have been treated with a unique static-like effect.
Truly, a perfect finale for a superb album.
Perhaps this album's greatest strength lies in the emotional honesty with which
these songs have been written and performed. While both skilled musicianship and
talented songwriting may seem rare in today's world of pre-fabricated music, Epiphany
Project have demonstrated that such talent still exists. Although one may have to
search a little harder to find music of this caliber--the pleasure in finding such
music as has been created by Epiphany Project is well-worth the effort.
You can find further information about the artists and purchase
the album at their
Read further reviews,
listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com
here. The debut album from Epiphany Project is eclectic; with Bet Williams'
stunning vocals, it is worth further exploration and a long distance journey.
It is certainly a very nice listen!--Justin Elswick
Image © 2001 Rudderfish Music
(25 July 2001) The debut album from Joanne Juskus is a
13-track self-titled project produced by Brad Allen (Rudderfish (USA)
HM7720, 2001). Musical Discoveries' visitors will recall our
review of the promo in November 2000.
The Washington, DC-based artist has just released her full length album.
Produced and co-written by Brad Allen, the recording highlights Joanne's
heavenly vocal work compared by some to Annie Haslam and others to Joni
Mitchell and Kate Bush. Yet others hear Sandy Denny at times. The album
certainly illustrates the artist's range.
Light guitar- and keyboard-based arrangements compliment
evocatively sung lead vocals in "Never Be The Same" and "Meet You There."
Instrumental arrangements in the concluding passages of "Never Be The
Same" are especially intriguing; we weren't exactly sure what was going
on with the first play. We were especially reminded of Joni Mitchell's
work in these tracks. "Waters of March" has been reworked since the
demo with a warmer arrangement. The track, written by Antonio Carlos
Jobim, illustrates the clarity of Joanne's voice.
"Breathing Underwater" and "Intersection" move into light
rock and blues respectively. Joanne's voice is especially evocative in
"New Religion" and the dynamic guitar arrangements add greatly to the
overall sound. Joanne's emotional vocal delivery in the dynamic "New
Religion" and soaring excursions in "The Taste Of You" and "Wish" reflect
her artistic sensitivity while gentler acoustic instrumentals reveal another
side of Brad Allen's production talent. The bluesy "Good Thing" and
"2 Days In July" are very Joni Mitchell vocally as well as instrumentally.
Especially noteworthy tracks are "I Am" and
our favourite "Within Your Fire." Soaring and sensual vocals sung are
effectively complimented by light keyboards and light guitar and
percussion in the former, while progressive arrangements of the latter
produce a very Renaissance-like sound and reflect the Annie Haslam
side of Joanne's vocal style. The track blends Indian sounds
with modern rock and Joanne's soaring vocal lead. Dynamic keyboards
and guitar solos reveal the artists' instrumental skills and extremely
well-produced progressive arrangements. Joanne's voice is perfectly
suited for progressive rock. The album concludes with a piano-based
ballad called "Birthday" evocatively and sensually sung with gently
soaring vocal excursions.
Our preview of Joanne's demo recordings revealed a
notable singer / songwriter with an extremely bright future and this
is further underscored with the full length album relase. Also an
established graphic artist, the stunning pre-production demo package
and presskit for the full length album were self-produced.
here to access
Joanne's mp3.com webspace where you can sample some of these tracks for
yourself. Joanne's debut release is worth a journey, and indeed is a
very nice listen!