image © Oriel Smith 2011
(09 July 2011) Orriel Smith is probably best known for the albums of "cluckoratora" released previously. In this quite unusual and interesting style, she clucks famous arias from the likes of Mozart, Verdi, and Puccini. However, her heart has always been close to the folk songs she sang on her debut album, A Voice In The Wind released by Columbia. nearly 50 years ago.
Smithexpressed a hope that one day she would return to those types of songs and this similarly-titled release A Voice Forever In The Wind (Oriel Smith (USA), CD-R 2011) is the long-awaited result. As she says in her liner notes, she has "always kept a special fondness for the poignant melodies and diverse characters in folk music."
Accompanying herself on guitar and with sparse orchestral arrangements performed by Don French, Smith delivers an impassioned collection of traditional folk songs from Ireland, Britain, America, Mexico, Russia, and New Zealand. The backing ranges from a softly intertwined guitar and orchestra on opener, "She Moved Through The Fair" to her gently plucked acoustic guitar on "Lady Mary" and "Songs My Mother Taught Me," to the a capella marvel, "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies" that finds her in as fresh and fine a voice as her early recordings.
Throughout the album, her crystalline voice tickles the heavens, occasionally operatic, but never less than emotionally enthralling. Think back to that voice wafting from the radio towards the end of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers and you'll get an idea of the immaculate purity and emotion in Smith's vocal pyrotechnics.
"Danny Boy’ is as heart wrenching as any version and her other tales of death, forbidden love, and lost virginity snuggle warmly up alongside songs of faith and devotion, including the a capella "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord" / "Amazing Grace" medley that’ll bring tears to the eyes of angels. Record companies don't release albums like this any more, which may explain why Smith has elected to release it herself. Check out the artist's new appreciation society site on MySpace. Musical Discoveries' review copy is a CD-R. The album is exclusively available from CDBaby. It is one of the summer's earliest treats.--Jeff Penczak in Tulsa, OK (Terrascope Online)