album reviews and artist reflections
contemporary celtic-oriented music
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Irelandís answer to Dido, singer-songwriter Brigid Boden, who has just released her second album Innocence Is Not A Crime in Ireland, has just been given the once in a lifetime musical gift by her publishing company Warner-Chappell, as a result of the corporate merger between America Online (AOL) and Time Warner. Musical Discoveries' reviews of the artist's self-titled debut album and her latest project incorporates an exclusive interview between Scandinavian Correspondent Mauri Osterholm and the artist. A short biographical sketch opens this article.
Growing up in Dublin, Ireland, Brigid was surrounded by a family of singers and trained since the age of three. Her pursuit of dance first landed her a position in the Dublin City Ballet, and culminated with a scholarship in New York to study at the famed Dance Theater of Harlem, writing music all the while.
She ended up in London to pursue songwriting full time. Once she had completed a polished demo, Brigid approached well-known British producer and session player Kevin Armstrong (who has worked with David Bowie, Elvis Costello, and Paul McCartney) to produce something more formal.
Brigid remembers, "He liked what he heard, and so we started working together. We have a very fiery relationship and that energy can be felt in the album. It is rare to work with someone who shares my enthusiasm so honestly." When former Hits magazine staffer Anita Webb heard the final demo, she encouraged Brigid to shop her tape to record labels in America. After getting offers from five major labels, Brigid chose A&M Records.
Just one month after landing her recording contract, she was back in the studio with Kevin Armstrong recording her self-titled debut. A variety of talented session players and musicians sat in - like lilter Pat Kilduff (who played with The Chieftains) and cohorts of the late Bob Marley like toaster Mikie Brooks and keyboard player Clifton Bigga Morrison. Mixed with energetic dance beats and accented by Armstrong's slamming guitar grooves, all of these varied styles come together, creating a fresh, new sonic experience.
Recently she got the music history making phone call from the chief executive of Warner-Chappell himself in Los Angeles, who gave her the good/bad news: she was being dropped, but as a consolation they were giving her all her songs back and cancelling the more than $200,000 she still owed them in received advances!
"I couldnít believe it," she says and admits she was shocked at first to learn that she had been let go. But her shock soon turned into sheer excitement when she was given the low-down of the deal. "Iím thrilled! Iím getting the rights back to all my songs, just as Iím about to release my new album and my current single "I Am The Wind" is receiving huge amounts of airplay both here and in Scandinavia.
Brigid Boden. Brigid Bodenís self titled debut is an album that you may not find easily, but itís still available even at some online sources. Brigidís album was released by A&M Racords (cat. no. 31454 0439 2, 1997) but got lost a year after that when Polygram and Seagram merged.
Today we know that the album is made by an artist packed with such a load of energy, that otherwise this album would maybe not even exist. Brigid Bodenís early years were not easy and paved from the support perspective, but today she can say: "I made it!"
Compared to the current new release Innocence is not a crime, the debut has an atmosphere more towards lighter celtic music. Usually we are very much aware of celtic music going the traditional way, being folky. Brigid Bodenís debut has nicely added influences of pop, even hip hop and reggae.
Right away the opening track "Must Go On" mixes the traditional sound of violin and pipes with a dance-pop alike rhythm. Covered with Brigidís wonderful, soft, ethereal voice you are offered a piece of something you have to get more. The style continues with "Iíll Always Stay" and the combination of traditions and modern pop work fine together.
"Child On A Cloud" appears to be an instant favorite due to the very exiting vocal layers. Dance-pop rhythm lead through the entire album. Brigids beautiful voice is balanced perfectly with melody. Also a couple of a bit romantic tracks are included. "Hymn To Her" has a special native american style chorus. "Ask No Questions" brings a very lively and joyful feeling with tin whistle and nice rhythm backing Brigid's vocal work.
About her debut, Brigid herself says it is really autobiographical, really personal. "The debut is a good one, but Innocence Is Not A Crime is my baby," she told us. However, both of the albums of Brigid Boden belong side by side to your collection first of all as lively music from a lively and professional vocalist, but also from variety and creativity reasons that show the possibilities of celtic music. We hope her cloud will give us lot more of these fascinating raindrops!--Mauri Osterholm, Musical Discoveries Scandinavian Correspondent
Listen to soundbites, read further reviews, find out further information and order Brigid Boden's self-titled debut album from amazon.com here.
Innocence Is Not A Crime. Brigid Boden's second album is a stunning followup to her debut, blending contemporary arrangements with international roots and stunning vocals. Released on Kunduru Music initially in Greece and Finland, the 13-track album is now released in the singer's homeland and is receiving international acclaim.
The album opens with the first single, "I Am The Wind," a highly accessible pop-oriented tune lushly arranged with vocal layers soaring above the instrumentals. "Love Is The Journey" blends a traditional Irish folk style vocal delivery with brilliant electronic arrangements. Crisp percussion and woodwind samples underscore Brigid's soaring voice in the upbeat ballad "On And On." "Time" is a slower paced Celtic ballad sung over brightly arranged, orchestral instrumentals featuring the harp.
Brigid's cover of Rolling Stones' classic "As Tears Go By" is stunning in every respect. Her soaring Enya-style vocals perfectly accompanied by lush instrumental passages performed by the Sofia Amadeus orchestra. The title track "Innocence Is Not A Crime," is much darker and gloomy with electronics taking over as the accompaniment, as Boden says, "it's like a breathing space in the [middle of] the album." Electronics further develop into two standout tracks, "Pray" and "Angels Come To Earth." Upbeat and vocally strong supported by tremendous arrangements, Brigid's performance is most reminscent of Sarah Brightman's most recent contemporary sound.
"My Secret Love," a traditional Celtic ballad with whistle and harp clearly discernable in the arrangement, is gloriously sung, perfectly supported by the light instrumentals. "Ancient Cities" continues in the same vein while "Eve's Chant" is largely a layered vocalise track without other accompaniment. Brigid's stunning cover of "Who Wants To Live Forever" rivals Sarah Brightman's in all respects with soaring vocal passages supported by lush arrangements. The album closes with Brigid's incredible vocal performance accompanied by the seasonal sounds of the lovely tune "Christmastime."
Brigid is extremely appreciative of the opportunities she's been given, yet she has the confidence to know that she has rightfully earned them. "I am eternally grateful, but I was determined and I knew I had something to be proud of. I definitely have a guardian angel," Brigid smiles. "It's just a fairy tale, in fact I can feel myself growing wings."
With international acclaim several years ago for her self-titled debut, Brigid Boden is certainly returning to the scene with her latest release Innocence Is Not A Crime. Initially recommended to Musical Discoveries by our Scandinavian correspondents, her two albums have been in heavy rotation at our headquarters. Stunning vocals with contrasts spanning Enya to Sarah Brightman are joined by tremendous instrumental arrangements on both albums. Worth a trans-Atlantic journey, they are both certainly a must listen!
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