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Beyond The Pride
Image © 2000 Red Harp Records 

(22 January 2000) The latest album from American singer songwriter and painter Laura Powers is entitled Beyond The Pale - Legends of the Goddess II (Red Harp Records (USA) 6 87474 01672, 2000). It is the followup to the artist's stunning debut Legends of the Goddess (Punch Records (USA) PEG 008, 1997). The debut includes the original version of "Samhain Madrigal" which was covered by The Vards as the title track of their album A Time Of Change (review). Powers shares writing credits on the new album once again with Chris Pelcer as well as others including John Tirro, Dwight Liles, David Lloyd, Sharon Cort, Bob Halligan and Dennis Bryon. Further information and soundbites are available at the artist's website.

It is easy to understand why Laura Powers is regularly compared to prominent New Age artists such as Loreena McKennitt and Enya. Powers' vocals are sweeter and more evocative than either. Celtic themes are at the heart of Laura Powers' music yet she incorporates pop, new age and alternative styles within it. Celtic and Irish instrumentation such as fiddle, mandolin, Irish flute and Uilleann pipes can be heard throughout both of her albums. The theme of her current project revolves aroung the Celtic mythology of The Goddess. The trilogy begins in her first two albums. Here Celtic themes and mythology are seamlessly woven into the style and grace of Laura Powers' songwriting and vocal technique. Those that listen to Aeone's (review) music will find distinct and purely coincidental stylistic resemblences.

Beyond The Pale is comprised of eleven tracks evocatively sung over lush Celtic orchestration. Laura Powers voice gently soars well above the music evoking an overall gentle feeling. Ballads dominate the album and Powers' vocals are mixed way up, well above the instrumentation where you can hear every word of the well-enunciated lyrics. Vocalise adds texture to the instrumentals which effectively combine modern sounds with the traditional. The title track is certainly very accessible with its lovely and highly memorable chorus. An album for female vocal enthusiasts it is full of vocal harmonies and countermelodies.

"This has been a work in progress for some time," says Powers, who adds that, when she conceived the project, "I was thinking partially in terms of the kind of music that I'd like to paint to, because when I paint I'm on a different level of awareness, and I wanted songs that would help take me—and the listener—to that level."

Tracks are sung in English with the exception of the lovely "Heart In Winter" which alternates with French lyrics while blending themes from Pachelbel's Canon. "Goddess of the Sea Mist," "Sisters of the Wind" and "In the Arms of the Mily Way" reintroduce the mythical goddess and allo us to soar alongside them in their mystical world.

The evocative "Pipes of Inishmore" and "Sailing Home" conclude the album. The blend of natural sounds, traditional Celtic instrumentals and Laura's stunning lead vocals works extremely well and typifies the artist's work. The concluding instrumental passages of the final track are full of lovely vocalise and themes from the tracks preceding are effectively joined to produce a musical summary.

She said, "People phave told me that this music takes them to a special place and creates a mood that is uplifting and peaceful. Since my intention was to take the listener on a musical journey to another time and place, it's very satisfying to get that positive feedback." We completely agree. The album is accompanied by original artwork and complete lyrics. Laura Powers' Beyond the Pale—like the debut of the trilogy—is stunning. Worth a journey, we believe that it is a must listen!

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