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In The Wake
eclectic progressive rock with
Our colleagues at Fireworks magazine directed Musical Discoveries' editorial staff to the then forthcoming album by Canada's Dream Aria and Ann Burstyn earlier this year. The band's highly varied female-fronted progressive music immediately drew significant attention from our staff immediately as correspondence with the stunning lead vocalist began. Read more about Ann Burstyn and Dream Aria in our exclusive interview with her below.
While Dream Aria is fronted by the powerful vocals of Ann Burstyn, the line-up is completed by Don Stagg (keyboards), Jozef Pilanovic (guitars) and Gary Gray (drums). The diversity of the band's material plants it directly in the progressive rock genre although enthusiasts of new age, contemporary crossover and world music will feel right at home with the thirteen track album. Read our review below.
Hi Ann! It's a pleasure to meet you finally. How about we begin with you telling us a bit about your background?
Ann Burstyn: I was born into a very musical family in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I actually grew up on the stage, literally. My Mom and Dad were playing side by side in the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra the entire time my Mom was pregnant with me. I guess I was so excited to get out and run around on that stage and others. I say that because my Mom said that the doctor had to run and catch me during my delivery!
By the time I was four, I knew that I would be a musician. I was immediately drawn to singers. I would sit and listen to music of all kinds for countless hours. The music in the house was Crystal Gayle, Berlioz, Prokofiev, Strauss, AM radio, and Sharon, Lois & Bram's children's music. I'd analyze song and composition structures, vocals and the music. Then I'd mimic the vocals and instruments until I had it all memorized, note for note. I craved the challenge. It was very satisfying to be able to meet the challenges. Then I'd try to exceed them. I took all of this very seriously even at four years of age. I never stopped.
We heard you were obsessed with music. Can you expand on that?
By the time I was fifteen, my Mom became worried that I was too obsessed with music. Funny, considering she'd been a professional musician since she was nineteen! In any case, she was right. I was obsessed and always will be! There's no greater feeling than the one I get from writing , singing, producing, performing, sharing and listening to, music. It chose me, not the other way around. I did take some lessons but I didn't like all the "rules". I had to do it my way. That must be the Aries in me! I took cello, piano and music theory. I played cello in an orchestra and string quartet and also did some solo performances. In fact, the orchestra I was in performed on the same stage as the Winnipeg Symphony- the very stage my Mom and Dad played on! That was a very special moment for me. During these years, I was also studying Jazz and Classical Ballet. I love the art of movement. Later in life, I took vocal lessons to ensure that I was singing correctly. I didn't want to unknowingly damage my vocal cords. I also took recording arts at Trebas in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with a major in Record Production.
What other projects were you involved with before Dream Aria?
I've been in various Toronto based bands and operas prior to Dream Aria. My first band was Lovejoy, which performed funky rock with an edgy attitude. I sang back-ups and some leads. I loved singing the harmonies and trading off with the male lead singer. It was a lot of fun. The operas I sang in were "Amahl and the Night Visitors," "Trial By Jury," "Cinderella" and "Sister Angelica."
It was quite the challenge memorizing melodies, Latin, Italian, and English lyrics, dance moves, acting and stage positions all at the same time! It was a blast! I then moved on to the Sci-Fi Prodigy band. We were a theatrical, space-rock band. Very unique. I sang back-ups and some leads. I was then hired to sing back-ups for a Shania Twain tribute band called "Shania Twin." I also sang back-ups for a Phil Collins band named "No Jacket Required". Shortly thereafter, I recorded a dance CD as a favor for a friend. I considered it to be great recording studio experience. I recorded vocals for other people's songs as well varying from pop, R&B and acoustic guitar pop ballads. I've done a couple of radio jingles too. One was for a Phoenix, Arizona company and the other for a London, Ontario theme park.
So what else have you done?
One of the best experiences of my life was when I was asked to record Egyptian style vocals for the Royal Ontario Museum. The museum had a stunning Egyptian exhibit and wanted to have some eerie, haunting vocal based Egyptian music playing amongst the exhibit rooms. I was let in after hours and led into an enormous room with shiny, smooth marble like stone flooring. There were stunning antiquities all around the borders of the room. There was knights' armor in glass cases and gorgeous ancient statues.
The focal point in this room was a 15-20 foot mahogany Buddha. The lights were dimmed to only a faint amber glow in darkness. The atmosphere was magical and electric. I was given a microphone. I laid out my coat in the middle of the room. I sat comfortably in an almost kneeling position and away I went. I made the music up as I reached deep within my soul. The whole room resounded with just my voice in the darkness. I felt as if it wasn't even me. The notes just came from somewhere inside. It was such a rush. A very spiritual moment for me. This was all made extra special as I've had a very strong fascination and feeling of connection with Egypt since I was five. I've performed in a few cover bands that play classic rock and some top 40. I'm rehearsing with my new cover band that is called The Eleventh Hour (website) right now. We'll be adding music to the site soon. It's a lot of fun but I prefer writing and performing originals. Dream Aria is the most important part of my life at this time of course!
What is your role in Dream Area and how did the band form?
The band began with Donald Stagg who is our composer, producer and keyboardist. He wrote all the keyboard parts. He then decided to find someone to add drums to the music. He was reminded by a friend about Garry Flint engineer, producer, composer and also drummer in Toronto band National Velvet-popular in the late 80's and early 90's. Don recalled having worked with Garry many years ago. He took his friend's advice and got back in touch with him. They began working together in 2004.
The music started out as a more classical genre. Garry added drums and the music took quite a turn. Don then decided to add vocals. He found two female vocalists and they suggested they sing in an operatic style. Don originally wanted more of a rock singer but thought the opera idea sounded interesting. The girls wrote the lyrics and vocal melodies and thus the group Odonata was formed. They sang on "Spirit," "He Touched My Soul," "Pacis" and "Snapshot." They also chose the name for the group. The music became techno, classical, rock and world. The girls decided to go it on their own and took the band name with them.
Don then found me through an ad I had posted on the music classifieds website. He played me the four songs and I liked what I heard. I thought perhaps I could add something to them. We met and the rest is history. I had to sing the four songs as closely as the girls had as those songs were already getting airplay. I added my own style and changed a few lyrics though, without altering the songs too much. Don and Garry were very happy with the results so I was too! They then played me the music for all the other songs. Very beautiful, unique and haunting. Just how I like it! We would choose one song to work on every other Saturday. Don and I would go to Garry's home studio. It was really amazing because I'd hear the song, usually for the first time, write the lyrics and vocal melodies on the spot, go into my booth and record in one take. What a feeling that as. WOW! That's just how good the music was and how great it made me feel. You could say that we all connected and had a lot of creative energy and ideas to share in a common vision.
So where did the name Dream Aria come from?
I was sitting up in bed one night, probably about 2:00 or 3:00am, the night owl that I am, and was thinking of what our music sounded like. I thought it was dreamy and operatic. I thought of Aria Dream and then it hit me, Dream Aria. I told the guys and they loved it. I wanted people to think of our music as dreamy, classical, fantasy, unique. I hope the name conveys that!
What are some of your own musical influences and how have they evolved over time?
My first influences were classical composers, Prokofiev, Berlioz and Strauss. My mom would play cassettes in her Datsun 260Z. I loved that car! Anyway, we'd drive around town or to the beach listening to Berlioz, Prokofiev's 5th Symphony and Strauss--Death & Transfiguration. We'd sing along. She'd sing the French horn parts--she's a French horn player--and I'd sing everything else! I grew up with classical music so I grew to love it. Then I found 'RADIO'. I had a favorite station that I would listen to as much as possible. I recall hearing the Guess Who and lots of other cool groups from that era. We won't mention years or dates here!
I loved the rock, folk rock pop, easy listening songs on one AM station--KY58. Seems like a million years ago, a few lifetimes at least! A couple of new friends then introduced me to ABBA. That was it. I was blown away. I'd never heard such awesome female vocals, harmonies, melodies. The arrangements were perfect. I loved the exotic sounds on the Voulez-Vous album. I think that's still my favorite. They were gods and goddesses to me. They were my biggest influence for many years. I had all their albums. I have them on CD now of course. Their music never gets old. It's still brilliant. I hear a lot of their influence in chords and harmonies used on the first Brittney Spears CD.
Now it seems all those Britney/Backstreet Boys bands are using them. A few years later I got into all the classic rock bands--Scorpions, Judas Priest, Van Halen, Asia, U2, Helix, Sreetheart, Harlequin, Queen City Kids, Extreme, Saga, Toto, Rush, Angel, Guiffria, Yes, Genesis, Aerosmith, The Cult, Def Leppard. I was then introduced to Andreas Vollenweider. He is a creative genius. But, my biggest influence ever is Glenn Hughes. He used to play bass and sing back-ups in Deep Purple during the David Coverdale stage. The first time I heard his voice, I got chills. It was the Phenomena album and the song was "Dance With the Devil."
I'd never heard such natural soul, and power in a rock vocalist's voice before. His singing was perfect, effortless, perfect pitch. Nobody to this day could ever compare. People try but they just don't have his voice. He has got such a gift and he knows it. He appreciates what he has. He's got a limitless range and gorgeous colors and timbres that he can shift between within one phrase. Just miraculous. I could go on forever. I've been extremely lucky. He's been my idol for nearly 20 years and I met him and became a friend about three years ago. He's such a humble and charming fellow. Very genuine. Some other influences have been Marillion, Dream Theater, Seal, Ephriam Lewis, The Headpins and Pat Benetar, oh the list goes on. As you can see, I love all kinds of music and have many influences!
What music were you listening to during the period in which the Dream Aria album was created?
Just prior to writing with Dream Aria, I was listening to DcTalk who are an awesome Christian Rock band. They have three singers that are incredible vocalists. Their voices are completely different from one another's and blend so perfectly. The musicianship is outstanding. Their music has lots of great melodic hooks, harmonies and driving beats. The lyrics are very good and are very well thought out. They don't preach at you--they just inspire you to think about yourself and how you relate to others.
I have also been listening to the Gladiator soundtrack. There's a beautiful mix of classical and exotic music. I especially love the absolutely gorgeous haunting female vocals. I get the chills when I hear them.
One of my new favorite artists is Chris Botti. I had just started getting to know his music before Dream Aria came about. He's a trumpet player who knows how to melt the listener. His playing is magical. The music is sexy, vibrant, melodic, and simply unforgettable. He always has amazing players on board too. The production on his Night Sessions CD is perfection.
This will come as no surprise but I always have my Glenn Hughes CDs in the player. He is so prolific that I can't keep up! I still have yet to buy his latest CD. He will always be my favorite singer and biggest inspiration.
I was listening to the radio a bit more than usual at this time. The only reason for that is that a new station came to be in Toronto. It's called 92.5 Jack FM. I was fed up with radio until this point. I'm not a big fan of the music that is so popular these days. Every band sounds the same to me now. I do appreciate these artists but I just can't listen to them all the time.
I just got so utterly frustrated when I'd put the radio on. But, Jack FM was playing all the songs that I grew up with. It was and is very nostalgic and is a reminder of a time when there were so many bands with unique styles. I still listen to it when I'm in the car. As far as radio goes, I tend to listen to internet radio more than anything.
And what are you listening to right now?
Currently I listen to many relaxation CDs. With all that's going on in my life right now, I need to have quieter moments. If I have trouble sleeping, I'll put one of these CDs on. It does tend to help. Most of the music is really pretty and calming.
How would you characterize Dream Aria's music?
Dream Aria's music is very eclectic. There are so many elements. It's a blend of different languages, genres, music eras, old and new instrument sounds and cultures. We mix progressive rock, rock, art rock, goth, techno, ambient, new age, classical, pagan and world--Scottish, Egyptian, Asian, Spanish--music.
When I first heard Don's compositions, I immediately thought, "Wow, this music is dreamy, ethereal, magical, mystical, warm, enveloping, beautiful, haunting, mysterious, like home, spiritual, driving, worldly and exotic!" Never before have I heard all of these elements conveyed within minutes of hearing new music. I right away fell in love. What I also appreciate about this music is that the songs are not your regular cookie-cutter formulated tunes. The music truly has no rules or boundaries. Listening to it instills a sense of liberation. It challenges you to think outside the box. Writing it forced us to reach deep into our souls and allowed us to release our hidden melodies and messages. Our songs are very healing, inspiring and calming. Also, we'd like to think that our music will take them away from the monotony and repetition in people's lives for awhile.
How have you developed your personal vocal style?
I began working on developing my vocal skills at the age of four. I would listen to all types of singers in the rock, pop, classical, adult contemporary and folk genres. I concentrated on their timbres, breath work, vibrato, style, phrasing and emotion. I had this strong desire and need to imitate all of these vocal facets. I felt I had to conquer all of these elements. I would always strive--and still do to this day--to meet any new vocal challenges. The more I think, "Gee, I could NEVER sing THAT," the more I have to do it! I guess that will never change! I always want to be the best that I can be.
My various styles come from having listened to so many different singers. As I grew into my teens, my musical tastes expanded. I started listening to new age, world music, heavy rock, progressive rock, instrumental, experimental and more. I now listen to just about everything under the sun excluding country, rap and hip-hop. I'm just not drawn to the latter genres.
Inspiration for my creative work whether it be music, poetry, short stories or art comes more from a place deep inside, not so much from outside forces. But there are still times where the simplest thing can coax me to write or draw. It can be from watching an animal, reading a book, having a conversation, viewing nature, everyday relationship issues, and the list goes on and on. Mostly I just have so many emotions that I need to express so I use music and art to do so.
What have the reactions to your music been like recently?
Reactions to our music have been extremely varied. Some people absolutely love it. Others say it's not their cup of tea. Younger people who think that the only music out there is Britney Spears or 50 Cent really do not understand our music at all.
We appeal to audiences that listen to Progressive Rock, Ambient, New Age, Theatrical, Art Rock, Classical, Movie/TV soundtracks, World, Electronica, Goth, Pagan and Spiritual music. I have had a lot of responses from people who don't normally listen to these genres and who are very impressed and intrigued by our songs though! I personally love the idea of expanding people's musical tastes and opening up their minds! It's good for the soul. Besides, variety truly is the spice of life!
In any case, the most typical comments we get are: "Your music is so unique and refreshing," "I've never heard anything like this and I don't know how to classify it, and that's a good thing," "your music is amazing," "I love the vocals," "I love the keyboards," etc. The common negative response we get is "the music is too eclectic and diverse." I take that as a compliment! What it all comes down to is that we now have a great fan-base. These fans are so encouraging and appreciative of us and of our music. We always let them know that we are equally and genuinely appreciative of them as well.
What's it been like working with the other band members?
I am blessed to be so lucky to work with the other musicians in Dream Aria. They are all honest, warm, professional, a lot of fun, positive and very gifted. What more could I ask for! Don and Garry have great child-like qualities in their personalities. I love that!
I'm the more serious one so they help to lighten me up. Jozef is also a great character. He can come up with a fantastic lick in a split second and then just go off on a tangent that is great. Most of his performances were created and recorded in one take. That's impressive. I'm also always in awe of how Don will just start playing the keyboards and out will come these beautiful melodies and swells. Then Garry steps in and effortlessly creates the perfect drum patterns that seamlessly fit in with Don's music. I wrote most of the vocal melodies and lyrics within one listen to the songs. That's how inspired and connected I am to their creations.
Many times I would hear their songs, write my parts, go upstairs to my vocal booth and record the vocals in one take. All in all, I found it so easy and very enjoyable to work with them. I always counted the days until we'd get together again. I still do that! I can't wait to write more with them. This CD is just the first.
Is there a story or a message that you are trying to convey through the music?
We do have a common theme within all the songs on the CD. It is very earthy and spiritual in nature. Overall it's about becoming better human beings. Today there is so much confusion and anger in the world. So many stress factors take over our lives. Our music and message is about hope, calming ourselves as well as healing our bodies, minds and souls. It's about reconnecting with and nurturing oneself, each other and Mother/Father Earth.
One of my favorite tracks is "Promise." When I first heard the music, I was writing the lyrics as I was listening. Don and Garry didn't realize I was doing that. They had their backs to me and were conversing between themselves. When the song ended, they turned to me and both began telling me that I could take the music home and write lyrics and vocal melodies during the week. I said "I'm ready to record right now." They said "What? What do you mean?" I replied, "I already wrote the words and melody." They were pretty surprised but agreed to record what I'd come up with. I went to my booth and the rest is history. We added a few other elements during the next session but the bulk of the song was finished. It was a wonderful experience for me. I was so moved by the music that it all just came together.
Do you have any other favorites?
Another special track for me is "Raindrops," originally called "The Messenger." It holds a lot of meaning for me. About five years prior to this, I had a vision. It was very vivid and powerful. I walked into the kitchen at my work where there was a crowd of noisy co-workers. Even with all the activity, I saw very clearly an image in my mind's eye of an elderly Native Indian. He had very red and weathered skin and smoldering dark eyes. His hair was long, straight, wispy and white. He was almost eerie but he didn't scare me. I saw behind him a very reddish, glowing sky as well as tall hills and a sun setting in the distance. The colors were stunning. He had a very specific message to tell. I understood what he was saying just by looking into his eyes. He never spoke. He said that mankind has to stop abusing the earth or it's going to turn on us. He said all the neglect will come back to us and that the earth will destroy mankind. I had always cared about the environment but this really hit home and hit hard. It made sense to me.
I sat down at the kitchen table with some paper and wrote a short story around this man and his wise words. I was still so inspired that I decided I had to draw him and the scenery that had surrounded him. It took me a few years but I finally bought an art set and drew the images with oil pastels. I couldn't get it exactly right but it's close. I had to change his hair color to salt and pepper too as it didn't look right all white for some reason. I'm going to try to do it better justice one day. You can see it on my personal website. I named the drawing "The Indian." I made a cropped version and a full version. They are both on the site. When it came time to write the lyrics and vocal melodies for what is now "Raindrops," I felt I had to write about this messenger. The music just seemed to fit the story. That's why it was first named "The Messenger." Don preferred the title "Raindrops" so there you have it!
Do any of the tracks have anything special to offer you personally?
Those are the two tracks that stand out for me as far as magic and meaning go. I do love all the songs though. They all have their own important meaning. "The 11th Hour" is about the brink of nuclear war and how we need to continue to pay more attention to avoiding that possibility by finding peace with one another. ‘Blue Lady' tells of going through the catharsis of a negative experience in order to move into the positive. "Snapshot" is about capturing all those special 'first' moments and always remembering them. "Sungoddess" is about how much I cherish the Sun and how we should all appreciate the warmth, beauty and life giving forces it offers. I won't give all of our secrets away so that we can leave the rest up to the imaginations of the listeners!
What can we expect from live performances?
We are currently in the early planning stages of planning to perform live. We just might start out in Missouri and the surrounding states. I'll keep you posted! We are rehearsing and are very excited about the possibility of touring. We'd love to do some theater type venues. We are not your typical bar band! I have belly dancers in mind as well as a female back-up vocalist. We are going to incorporate video images as well. We want it to be a big show with lots of theatrics. The music screams for this! We plan to dazzle our fans!
Do you have a day job that you think our readers would be interested in hearing about?
I left my last day job to concentrate on Dream Aria. I needed time, space and energy to promote our music. I couldn't do that while working for someone else. It was just too draining. I am on my computer sometimes from noon until 5AM working on all things Dream Aria. It's endless work but I love it! Best job I ever had! It would be nice to make money at it! I'm also writing an art column for a new magazine that will be available as of April 1st. It's called YYZ Lifestyle. I've also been writing a lot of music reviews. I will be starting to write some for a highly popular site called Clever Joe (website). All musicians should check it out! I also teach vocal lessons. It's a great high to hear students find their voice and expand their range, power, control etc. They just blossom before my eyes and ears. I do the odd session work for other composers and that is also a ton of fun. I recently recorded two radio jingles for a couple of well-known producers/composers too.
For interest sake, I was a health counselor at a health and weight-loss clinic. I really enjoy helping others. It's very rewarding to see someone become healthy and full of life after having been in pain for so long. So many people suffer from disease just because of poor health habits. They just need motivation and education. Those were the main aspects of my job. A lot of people came in for weight-loss as well. They were in dire need of encouragement. We provided that as well as healthy diet plans geared towards the individual.
Before that I worked at the Dog Lounge. What a wild time that was! It's a dog daycare that includes a retail store and services such as grooming, boarding, training, holistic health education for owners of all sorts of animals and dog walking. I was in charge of up to fifteen dogs at one time. I had to keep them from fighting, going after customers, eating each other's food and escaping from the store. I also had to groom them, clean up their messes, walk some of them and also do training. I had to deal with all the customers that came in as well as answer the phone, do administrative work, sweep, mop and dust, merchandise, deal with sales reps, order supplies and the list goes on.
Eventually I had completely burned myself out but I am still a true-blue dog lover. I loved being surrounded by so many lovely dogs for eight hours at a time. They are amazing creatures with such diverse and wonderful personalities--for the most part!
How has the internet influenced your career?
The internet has been a crucial medium in aiding us to promote our music globally. We have built up a following solely through utilization of the net. Our music is currently being aired on over 170 radio stations worldwide because of internet promotion. This is truly incredible. We have gotten record company attention because of the airplay we've been getting. We have many people visiting our site as well. They can hear our music for free there to see what we're all about. They like what they hear and then stick with us. None of this could have happened without the net. People have immediate access to our music, photos, bio, e-mail etc. at their fingertips. They don't have to call anyone or leave their home to find out this information. We also sell our CD online which is very convenient for our fans. There are so many benefits to using the internet. It has definitely helped my and Dream Aria's musical career! It is helping countless musicians, artists etc. across the world. It's a wonderful thing.
What are some of your hopes and dreams for 2005?
I have many hopes and dreams for 2005. Of course my main goal is to help Dream Aria be successful. To me this means making as many people as possible happy through our music. I would also love to be able to make money doing what I love to do the most. Sing! A Dream Aria tour would be the ultimate high for me I think. I want to sing and perform our music to everyone in the world. How's that for a goal?!
Writing more music would also be great whether it be with Dream Aria or just for fun on my own. I prefer collaborating with my band-mates though. I have made so many new friends from this whole experience and so I hope to make more as this adventure continues. I am very moved by how much love there is out there. Mankind is surprising me lately! I hope to see a lot more of this as the year progresses. I hope that everyone gets to see this! Wouldn't it be wonderful if this could continue for many more generations to come?
Dream Aria's album In The Wake (SOCAN (Canada) DA2005CD, 2005) is comprised of thirteen eclectic and vocal-laden tracks running just over 50 minutes. Superb production by Garry Flint at Flintronix in Toronto, Canada graces both the vocal treatment and instrumental arrangements. While Ann's voice carries both lead and backing vocal parts, occasional male vocals join in. Ann has an extensive range and while most comfortably similar to Lisa Bouchelle (feature) her operatic stylings are most similar to Sarah Brightman (feature). The band is instrumentally strong and everso capable as the instrumental solo sections in "Promise" clearly illustrate.
The rhythmic and worldly opening of "Spirit" immediately draws the listener to In The Wake. Ann's operatic vocals are joined by progressive arrangements with a powerful rhythm section of thick bass and crisp percussion. The more accessible melody of "Sungoddess" features shimmering guitar and everso crisp keyboard sequences as the tremendously powerful rock textures and operatic range of Ann's voice intertwine. The title track "In The Wake" is comprised of two movements: "Soul" and "Body." "Soul" is worldly, weaving native Indian and middle eastern textures of strings and woodwinds with searching vocalise. "Body" is in stark contrast and upbeat rocker driven by guitar, thick bass and Ann's layered vocals, an appetizer for "Promise," which appears several tracks later.
With the foundation set, the upbeat "Blue Lady" is set in a similar contrast to the title track, opening with gentle new age instrumentals before the guitar-laden arrangement--think TransSiberian Orchestra--begins the fray. Vocals vary between a heavily processed style and Ann's sweetly delivered operatic layerings. Classic rock electric guitar solos and further strings add to the masterpiece. Ann pulls on listeners' heartstrings in the tender ballad "Snapshot," accompanied primarily by electric guitar although piano melodies can also be heard in the arrangement. Self-harmonies soar under Ann's powerful vocals in the chorus.
Clearly Dream Aria's most Sarah Brightman-style work is the upbeat and dance-oriented number "Pacis." Most likely sung in Latin, Ann's everso wide-ranging operatic vocals soar above the eclectic rhythm section and rich keyboard-laced instrumentals. Remarkably, the track blends perfectly into the album's standout, "Promise." Upbeat and accessible, the track perfectly demonstrates Ann's significant power and tremendous range, coupling her voice perfectly to superb instrumental arrangements driven by shimmering electric guitar, powerful bass and crisp percussion. While their sound is eclectic, "Promise" is clearly the defining moment of Dream Aria.
A guitar melody underscore's Ann's sweetly delivered solo lyrics in the heart wrenching ballad "He Touched My Soul." Vocal excursions in the choruses are everso evocative. Lush keyboard and lead guitar alternate and blend together to provide the foundation of "Raindrops" while further layers of Ann's harmony vocals add tremendous texture to the track. The final ballad of the album is entitled "Opus Dei." Ann delivers the vocals in the style of a Broadway or West End musical torch song, singing both lead and alternating harmony. It is tremendous.
Woodwinds complement acoustic guitar in the quieter moments of the upbeat and highly accessible rock track "Spanish Nights." Again Ann's lead vocals soar--Lisa Bouchelle-style--above rich electric guitar melodies and harmony layers add tremendous texture to this robust track. The album concludes with the stunning rocker entitled "11th Hour." Lead and harmony vocals work perfectly with the thick fast paced rock arrangements.
Dream Aria has created an album of diverse textures built on a progressive rock foundation. Ann Burstyn's powerful and wide ranging vocals perfectly compliment rich instrumental arrangements from quiet ballads to all out rock songs both in the lead and backing harmony sections. Dream Aria is a very talented ensemble fronted by an outstanding vocalist. We are extremely anxious to hear more from the group very soon.
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