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While this website has become known for its in-depth album and concert reviews, the digest contains concise comments on new music our audience has either recommended or might enjoy. Click on album covers or label names for links to further information. Click on the title to view the article.

Content
Strawberry Fields
Renaissance
IOEarth
Katie Melua
Landmarq
Yesterdays
The Reasoning
The Debbie Miller
Charlotte Martin
Epica
Heart
Marina Cruzo

Links
Digest Index
More Digest Entries
Previous Digest Entries
Instrumental Digest
 
Strawberry Fields - Live Strawberry Fields - DVD Cover Artwork
click on image for band's MySpace
image © Metal Mind Productions 2011


More from Strawberry Fields:
Rivers Gone Dry (2009)
Robin: interview and photos (2011)
and from Travellers:
A Journey Into The Sun Within (2011)

Strawberry Fields' lead vocalist: Robin
click on image for Robin's FaceBook
photo credit: Grzegorz Chorus
image © Metal Mind Productions 2012

 

(04 March 2012) Originally scheduled for release in the early autumn of 2011, after numerous setbacks the Live Strawberry Fields DVD (Metal Mind Productions (Poland) MMP DVD 0195, 2011) began distribution in February 2012. The production was recorded on 20 of April 2011, at Silesian Theatre in Katowice, Poland, were the band presented to their audience their very own, unique, subtly simple, magic and, at times, trip-hop-like brand of progressive music, crowned with Robin's mesmerizing and sensual voice. The theatre has been the choice venue for a variety of Metal Mind's recordings including Caamora's She (review).

Szadkowski and Robin were accompanied on stage by the former’s fellow musicians from the band Satellite, including Sarhan Kubeisi (guitars), Jarek Michalski (bass), Krzysztof Palczewski (keys) and the band's new guitarist Michał Kirmuć. Together they presented their fans with a musical feast by performing songs from Strawberry Fields' debut album Rivers Gone Dry (2009) as well as one previously unreleased song entitled "Problem."

This DVD will be appreciated by avid listeners whether they have already been or won't be able to get to a Strawberry Fields show. It's great to see the band perform in a live venue and to finally witness Robin's emotional vocal delivery in this format. Check out the band's live performance of "Rivers Gone Dry" from the DVD at YouTube here.

The band treated the audience to new versions of two memorable songs from Satellite's repertoire and a classic Collage song. The Satellite tracks include "Don't Walk Away in Silence" and "Is It Over." And the Collage song is "Living in the Moonlight." The Live Strawberry Fields DVD perfectly captures the magic of that exceptional evening.

The production quality of the DVD perfectly mirrors the band's live performance on the night. Stage lighting was done well and comes across equally fine on the DVD. The camera work, color and detail, especially in the closeups, is superb. The audio quality is also stunning. We would have appreciated less of the extremely-rapid music video-style cuts from one angle to another. This is, after all, atmospheric rock, not pop.

The concert at the Theatre was also a special event for the band themselves. Strawberry Fields' singer Robin comments: "Silesian Theatre in Katowice is a beautiful venue, magical even. The atmosphere of that place perfectly fit and contributed to the mood of that evening." She continues, "The live DVD shows a different side of Strawberry Fields than what you can find on River's Gone Dry. First and foremost, this is because we're harmonious as a band, our mutual energy keeps us going and we really enjoy playing live."

Robin says, "Most of the songs were re-arranged into live versions. It is owing to this that the band became more consistent, its character was defined better. We hope that Live Strawberry Fields will let people look at Strawberry Fields from a different perspective and that it will let them see it as a band." When asked about what it meant to her, Robin replied, "For me, the greatest pleasure was performing Satellite's and Collage's songs. I was genuinely touched. Of course, it's not the same as hearing the original versions, it's merely a substitute, but it's enough to allow for a sentimental journey back in time."

At this writing, Robin told us, "Currently we're working on our next Strawberry Fields album, but I guess it will take little bit of time." Our editorial staff hopes that Travelers will do some live performances and make a DVD as well. In addition to the live performances of tracks from Rivers Gone Dry, the previously unreleased tracks and the reworked versions of Satellite and Collage songs, the DVD also includes a variety of bonus material. Those purchasing the DVD will also enjoy interviews with Wojtek Szadkowsk and Robin (in Polish), slide show, band biography and desktop images. The DVD is delivered in a standard package and is accompanied by a four page booklet. The DVD is available at all popular online outlets.

 
Renaissance - Tour 2011: Renaissance Live in Concert - Cover Artwork
click on image for Renaissance website
image © Symphonic Rock Recordings 2011


More Renaissance Reviews:
BBC Sessions (1999)
Live at the Mean Fiddler (2001)
Dreams and Omens (2008)
Song of Scheherazade (DVD) (2009)
Live at Carnegie Hall (2009)
Scheherazade and Other Stories (2010)
The Mystic and the Muse (EP) (2010)

More Annie Haslam Reviews:
Woman Transcending (2006)
Live Studio Concert (DVD) (2006)

Renaissance on the Internet:
Northern Lights Renaissance Website
Renaissance Official Website
Renaissance MySpace
Renaissance FaceBook

Michael Dunford and Annie Haslam
click image for Renaissance Facebook
Michael Dunford and Annie Haslam
Ashes painting © Annie Haslam
artist photo © Richard Barnes
image © Symphonic Rock Recordings 2011

 

(10 March 2012) The progressive rock band Renaissance fronted by Annie Haslam since 1971 has had significant success worldwide as they have continued to evolve from strength to strength. Despite the 2009 commemorative DVD release of the group's 1976 and 1979 live performances on Song of Scheherazade: Renaissance Live, enthusiasts worldwide sought a modern and high quality production of Renaissance live material. New management and a revised lineup has led to the Exclusive Limited Edition box set Tour 2011: Renaissance Live in Concert (Symphonic Rock Recordings (USA), SRR 000-01, 2011).

The stunning quad-fold digipack includes a DVD of their live performance of Turn of the Cards and Scheherazade and Other Stories during their 2011 tour. In addition to the DVD, it includes the audio tracks on two CDs. The DVD, two CDs and 12-page photo-filled booklet are also platforms for Annie's own artwork. The design, layout and physical production of the product is excellent. To prevent compression by the plastic trays, the digipack's cardboard could have been a little thicker. Video production of the DVD and audio production of the CDs are both outstanding.

While the lineup is built around Renaissance veterans Annie Haslam (lead vocals) and Michael Dunford (guitar, vocals), the other players have changed. Rave Tesar (keyboards) and David J. Keyes (bass) have performed with Annie Haslam or with Renaissance since the 1980s. New players include Jason Hart (keyboards, vocals) and Frank Pagano (drums, percussion, vocals). Audio engineering was done by Denny Bridges who has been with Renaissance and Annie Haslam throughout their careers.

Both of the album titles included in this live box set are performed by the ensemble extremely well. The arrangements remain true and genuine to their original roots. The recordings conclude the performance with the new Renaissance track "The Mystic and the Muse," which to our ears alludes to Dunford's Scheherazade musical that showcased in 1998. A studio version of the track was released alongside two other tracks derived from the musical in a 2010 EP of the same title.

DVD. In early 2011 Renaissance announced that their then forthcoming tour would include complete live performances of Turn of the Cards and Scheherazade and Other Stories. Two of the band's best-selling and perhaps their most classic albums, the prospect of the live performances of both in one evening led to a series of sold out tour dates in the United States northeast. Critical reviews were extremely positive with many writers citing these as among some of the best live performances of this material since the mid-1970s. The DVD was recorded and filmed at The Keswick Theatre, Glenside, PA on September 23, 2011. The DVD format is all-region NTSC. A thoughtful video interview with Annie Haslam and Michael Dunford concludes the DVD.

In preparation for watching the DVD, viewers should consider three points. First, the material being performed is 1970s-style progressive rock. While live performances of some of the bands from that era may have been highly animated, that was really never the case with Renaissance. So don't expect to see the players as highly animated stage performers. They are there to make the music and that's what they do.

Second, Renaissance's music is known to be derived from classical themes and is also relatively complex. The Scheherazade and Other Stories album when performed live in the mid-1970s oftentimes included an orchestra. Here, the on-stage ensemble will faithfully recreate that sound with far less resources and you will see that the musicians performing on the DVD remain focused on creating the sound. Finally, the artists play the live versions of two full albums of material plus an extended bonus track in one live performance with a small intermission between. Consequently they have paced themselves and their energy to deliver an overall outstanding performance throughout the evening.

While some video productions have a series of fast cuts from shot to shot, we appreciated that this one does not. In fact, the video work perfectly complements the music and the artists' style on stage focusing on the individual players, as a audience member would do. It creates the atmosphere of the evening's performance and brings this new incarnation of Renaissance to the home theater, desktop computer and laptop, also with the help of some modern technology, iPad and PlayBook with the quality and fidelity that enthusiasts expect from this band. All the performers are clearly at the top of their game at this live performance. The DVD reproduction puts their work in the hands of a larger audience in a way not possible or attempted by their labels previously.

Compact Discs. Renaissance and their management thoughtfully included all the audio tracks from the live performances on two gorgeous CDs in this box set. How many times have customers purchased a DVD longing for audio tracks that could be played in the background while listeners are either multitasking without access to a player or in a place where audio only is more appropriate? Renaissance thought this out ahead of time by including the two-CD set.

The first CD represents the first act from the DVD and therefore includes the new live versions of Turn of the Cards in the same sequence as the original studio album. While the band have performed all of these tracks live during their 40 years of touring, the 2011 tour was the first time that these were performed together and in the album's sequence. Avid listeners will surely appreciate the quality of the performance and the production in this sequence as much as we did.

The other CD is the second act from the DVD. It includes the new live versions of Scheherazade and Other Stories with the first side's shorter tracks "Trip to the Fair," "The Vultures Fly High" and "Ocean Gypsy" faithfully performed to the live audience's delight. The band's stunning performance of the "Song of Scheherazade" suite follows. Almost as a bonus, "The Mystic and the Muse," to our ears clearly derived from the Scheherazade musical, concludes the CD. Annie's goodbye to the audience and their applause has been included.

As this review goes to press, we are informed from Annie Haslam that Renaissance has launched a Kickstarter project to fund their next studio project. While details are still sketchy at this point, perhaps this will be a way to further develop and arrange the Scheherazade musical's songs that to date have been heard only by those that attended the 1998 showcase.

Visit their official website for more information. The limited edition box set reviewed above is not only a great commemorative project for longtime fans, but an equally great introduction for the next generation of Renaissance enthusiasts.

 
IOEarth - Moments - CD Cover Artwork
click on image for IOEarth website
artwork © Wendy Vissers-Hagenbeek
and published by IOEarth Music 2012


More IOEarth:
IOEarth (2009)

IOEarth: image © Wendy Vissers-Hagenbeek and published by IOEarth 2012
Claire Malin (female vocals) and IOEarth
click on image for IOEarth Facebook
photo © Wendy Vissers-Hagenbeek
and published by IOEarth Music 2012


Claire Malin: image © Wendy Vissers-Hagenbeek and published by IOEarth 2012
Claire Malin (female vocals)
click on image for IOEarth Facebook
photo © Wendy Vissers-Hagenbeek
and published by IOEarth Music 2012
all photos used with permission
 

(10 March 2012) In the creation of their second IOEarth album, Dave Cureton and Adam Gough decided that it shouldn't be a follow-up to their debut. Entitled Moments (IOEarth (UK), 2012), the hour-long nine-track progressive masterwork embodies the sound of the debut but has continued to evolve over the course of the founders' parternship. Listeners will recognize the recurring themes that span the material. The individual tracks are all relatively long however only the final track which runs about eleven minutes might be called an epic.

IOEarth's lineup includes Dave Cureton (lead guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards, vocals, programming); Adam Gough (keyboards, guitar, acoustic guitar, theramin, vocals, programming); Richard Cureton (drums, percussion); Claire Malin (vocals); Christian Nokes (bass); and Luke Shingler (flute, soprano saxophone). Additional contributing musicians included on this album are: Steve Trigg (trumpet); Wendy Vissers-Hagenbeek (spoken words); Jayna Maye-Noa Vissers (spoken words); and Nicko Cureton (percussion). In addition to a wide variety of critical reviews of their debut album, the band's live performances over the past two years have brought them significant acclaim. While the album's IOEarth roots are crystal clear, Moments is somewhat more reserved in comparison to the band's debut album.

The band cite their influences being Steve Vai, Led Zeppelin, Beniot Atras (Cirque Du Soleil), Groove Armada, Massive Attack and others. Having seen all of the current Las Vegas productions, we believe that the new IOEarth album has clear Cirque Du Soleil allusions throughout, with the rhythmic instrumentals being among the strongest for comparative purposes. The tracks flow effortlessly from one to the next despite vast tempo and style changes between and within them. Claire Malin's vocals are a stunning accompaniment to the instrumental arrangements. The CD is presented in a lovely brown-hued trifold digipak designed by Wendy Vissers-Hagenbeek. It includes all lyrics and full album credits.

The title track "Moments" opens the album with spoken words that lead to very powerful instrumental arrangements and brief yet beautifully delivered vocal passages. An album standout, the track embraces almost all of the styles present on the album and provides a great overture for the material that follows.

"Live Your Life" is a two-part suite which, like the opening track, spans a range of styles. It includes a tremendous piano ballad sung by Claire Malin. Listen to her crystalline soprano vocals tenderly deliver the lyrical passage. Instrumentals carry the last segment of the first part and serve as a segue into the guitar laden and percussive Cirque du Soleil-sounding second part. Claire's vocals are joined by self- and male-backing harmonies. Claire's vocal power is evident atop the rich instrumentals.

"Drifting" is the first of two sharply contrasting tracks. Somewhat reminiscent of "EEEE" from the IOEarth album, the track features intense Cirque-style rhythms and layers of worldly chanting vocals and orchestral arrangements before the primary lyrical passage powerfully powerfully by Claire Malin begins. She is backed by the chanting achieving a great effect. The balance between the various instrumental passages and vocal work is superb. In a similar style, "Cinta Indah" includes Claire's gorgeous ballad offset by a rhythmic instrumental passage and Hindu-sounding chants. Listen for the light acoustic guitar solo in the break and Claire's powerful vocal delivery in the song's crescendo. The blend of these various styles by IOEarth works very well.

The album's one pure instrumental is "Brothers." As the listener will expect by this point in the album, the track builds arrangements around themes introduced earlier in the recording. Luke Shingler's sax and flute melodies alternate and are complemented by xylophone and tubular bells in the pulsing arrangement. Also listen carefully to Richard Cureton's powerful drums driving the track.

IOEarth really demonstrate their musical chops in the almost-club styled track "Come Find Love." It must be heard to fully appreciate. In another rhythmic number, IOEarth build on the "Finest Hour" speech delivered by Winston Churchill to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom on June 18, 1940. The lyrical passage is delivered harmoniously by Dave Cureton, Adam Gough and Claire Malin alongside recordings of the speech that have been embedded within the song's powerful arrangements.

"Turn Away" is the album's concluding eleven-minute track. The piano-backed ballad clearly illustrates Dave Cureton's talent and vocal prowess. While he is gently backed by the other singers and gentle washes of additional effects, vocalise and instrumental arrangements, his polished and warm delivery carries the lyrical passages. The band explodes in an instrumental guitar-laden frenzy before the song comes to a conclusion with a further piece of Churchill's "Finest Hour" speech.

IOEarth have delivered a progressive masterwork, clearly demonstrating significant artistic growth from their debut. Purchase the album from the band's website. Clearly one of the most rapidly emerging progressive bands of this decade, these musicians are sure to broaden their following with Moments. Bravo!

 
Katie Melua - Secret Symphony - CD Artwork
click image for Katie Melua's website
image © Dramatico Entertainment Ltd 2012


More Katie Melua:
Piece by Piece (2007)
Call Off The Search (2004)
A Night With Katie Melua (2004)


Katie Melua
click image for Katie Melua's Facebook
image © Dramatico Entertainment Ltd 2012
 

(05 March 2012) Since her debut album Call Off The Search singer songwriter Katie Melua has gained significant notariety in the UK and other territories. She has been working with Mike Batt and his Dramatico label since completing her musical education at the BRIT School for the Performing Arts and completing her B-Tech in Music. In 2006, she was the United Kingdom's best-selling female artist and Europe's highest selling European female artist. She has amassed great wealth from her music at the age of only 27.

In 2003, at the age of only nineteen, Melua released Call off the Search, which reached the top of the United Kingdom album charts and sold 1.8 million copies in its first five months of release. Her second album, Piece by Piece, was released in 2005 and to date has gone platinum four times. Melua released her third studio album Pictures in 2007 and The House in 2010 to similar success. The 2008 best-of compilation entitled The Katie Melua Collection was well received in many territories.

Katie Melua's Live at the O2 Arena (2009) and three top-selling live DVDs On The Road Again (2006), Concert Under The Sea (2009) and the stunning Katie Melua with the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra (2011) brought the artist and her band into the homes of many enthusiasts around the world. It was perhaps this last DVD that led to the title of Katie's latest album Secret Symphony (Dramatico (UK), 2012).

In addition to her drop dead good looks, Katie Melua has one of the finest voices recording popular music today. Her material is largely centered around blues standards although pop and rock tracks occasionally grace her repertoire. The standards helped establish Katie Melua without falling claim to or getting lost in the pop music machine. The standards have also given her material a lasting and broad appeal, but we think singer has the talent not only to record, but to write and perform more innovative and personal material. And our we hoped that following the release of the With the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra DVD that she would branch out further.

Awaited by her enthusiasts for months, Secret Symphony is an oustanding production that again integrates Katie Melua's stunning voice with Mike Batt's outstanding arrangements and studio production. And while well produced and great sounding in every respect, the album left us with a feeling of "more of the same" instead of demonstrating the kind of growth expected from a maturing artist. See a video of the album's first single performed live at Ronnie Scott's in London here.

We weren't really struck with the Katie Melua album. It seemed very weird, made us feel very uncomfortable actually, a lot of the songs really didn't work. For example "Nobody Knows You when You're Down And Out" (written by Jimmy Cox in 1923), is a blues song that many people have performed over the years. Every ounce of the meaning and significance of it was kind of smoothed out. The project doesn't seem to have had a great deal of respect for the material, which is something we feel is essential to it having a chance of success.

Katie Melua indeed has a gorgeous voice, but it's time that she find herself some suitable material and sit down with just a guitar and sing her heart out. She really doesn't need an orchestra. While her goal of working with blues standards helped make a spot in the industry for her, we're convinced she has a great album in her, if only she could get away from the shiny side of the business she seems to have fallen into. In closing, Secret Symphony is a good album that many will adore, but we think it's time to break the mold. Katie Melua can do better.--Jamie Field in Kington, England and Russ Elliot in Boston, MA

 
Landmarq - Entertaining Angels Special Edition - CD Cover
click image for Entertaining Angels website
image © Landmarq / Synergy Records 2012


more Landmarq and Tracy Hitchings:
Turbulence (2006) DVD | (2009) CD
Landmarq Live: Brentwood, UK (1999)
Tracy Hitchings Feature (1999)

also Mike Varty's Janison Edge:
The Services of Mary Goode (1998)

Tracy Hitchings (lead vocals) | photo © Steve Gee 2012
click on image for Landmarq FaceBook
Tracy Hitchings (lead vocals)
photo © Steve Gee 2012

 

(updated 09 June 2012) Landmarq celebrates their twentieth anniversary with the release of their fifth studio album Entertaining Angels (Synergy Records (UK) SYN005, 2012). Two live albums and a DVD also punctuate the band's history and fill the gap since their last studio project Solitary Witness (1998). Entertaining Angels is the second Landmarq studio album with Tracy Hitchings as the lead vocalist. Read more about her career and the Landmarq history in our feature. [The original manuscript of this review was lost in a computer crash from an infection and a subsequent complete rebuild. Apologies to visitors and the band for the publishing delay.]

The release of Entertaining Angels is a significant milestone in Landmarq's career. The Special Edition package (SYN007, 2012) includes a half hour four track bonus disc (SYN006, 2012). In addition to lead vocalist Tracy Hitchings, the album's lineup, as in Thunderstruck, includes: Uwe D'rose (electric guitar, acoustic guitar); Steve Gee (bass guitars, b/vocals); Dave Wagstaffe (drums, percussion, b/vocals); and Mike Varty (piano, keyboards, violin, viola b/vocals). Mike Varty's Gargoyle Studio and Karl Groom/Clive Nolan's Thin Ice Studio are both credited in the liner notes. Note that Entertaining Angels includes the first studio recordings of several tracks that were initially heard on Landmarq's Turbulence - Live In Poland DVD and CD.

The two-CD version of Entertaining Angels runs over an hour and a half. The first CD runs just over 72 minutes. The stunning opening and title track includes an extended instrumental introduction preceding Tracy Hitchings' emotionally delivered first recording since the songs on Solitary Witness. Rich keyboards, crunching guitars and crisp percussion deliver an outstanding rock arrangement. Listen for layers of Tracy's harmony vocals that contribute to the texture of Landmarq's sound. Listeners that like Tracy Hitchings will love the album.

The new track "Glowing" is split into two parts "Friends" and "Lovers." "Friends" is lightly arranged and evocatively delivered. Acoustic guitar and piano dominate the arrangement beneath the theatrical style of the singer's lead although choruses have electric guitar and keyboards contributing to the sound. As one might expect, "Lovers" is the contrasting track with thick instrumental arrangements featuring soaring keyboard and guitar excursions. Tracy's vocals continue to glisten and soar above them. Listen for the saxophone in the extended instrumental passages.

The upbeat "Mountains of Anglia" continues to build Landmarq's timeless sound with rich keyboard and electric guitar. Tracy Hitchings is an extremely accomplished rock vocalist and she shows her chops in this powerful number. We especially appreciated the producers' treatment of her backing self-harmonies in the song. "Personal Universe" is one of the album's standouts. The contrast between the ballad portions of the song and the rockier arrangements that develop is a testament to Landmarq's maturity as a modern progressive band.

"Prayer (Coming Home)" is the second standout on Entertaining Angels. Extremely well played piano and rich symphonic keyboards provide the perfect accompaniment to this anthem. The layers of Tracy's vocals have been perfectly sung and recorded. This track creates extremely strong allusions--both in vocal delivery and overall sound--to Tracy's recordings with Strangers on a Train, which comprise two of our editorial staff's favorite all time CDs. Electric guitar solos are the finest on this album.

"Turbulence (Paradigm Shift)" is the first of the album's very long tracks. It is one of the brand new songs on the album. Listen for vast rock instrumentals, soothing string arrangements, Tracy Hitchings' soaring vocalise, and her dramatic lead vocal part. The band's superb rhythm section deserves special note as well.

The sixteen minute epic "Calm Before The Storm" concludes the album's first CD. It is actually the main title for a suite of three songs: Part 1 - "Strange But Beautiful"; Part 2 - "Spiderman; Part 3 - "Into The Abyss." Listeners will immediately recognize Landmarq's characteristic keyboard wash/electric guitar sounds that harken their earliest work in this extended track. Layers of stunning vocals arranged atop multiple guitar and keyboard parts contribute to the rich sound produced in this over 16-minute epic. Listen to the singer's various vocal parts within this powerful song. Instrumentals fully illustrate the depth and breadth of the artist's individual talents as well.

The four track bonus CD in the Special Edition includes two shorter tracks and the "Stormbrewing" introduction to and the "Thunderstruck" epic itself. The lovely arrangement of "Walking On Eggshells" differentiates it from being called a bonus track. The song perfectly complements the material on the album's first CD. Tracy's vocals evocatively soar above a guitar-laced arrangement. Listen to the way the swirling keyboards perfectly balance the guitar- and piano-based arrangement.

"Timeline" is clearly one of Entertaining Angels' standout tracks. Perfectly timed at just under six minutes, the song features ballad style verses and richly arranged, rocking choruses in a track that pays homage to Landmarq's stunning lead vocalist. Tracy's vocal harmonies are sung and timed perfectly. "Stormbrewing" is the dramatic classically derived keyboard introduction to the bonus CD's final track "Thunderstruck." Mike Varty clearly illustrates his chops in this number.

Landmarq's latest album concludes with the powerful extended track "Thunderstruck." As with most of Landmarq's epics, the track combines a wide range of styles with stunning vocal work, thick arrangements and individual player instrumental excursions. Very much in the Solitary Witness style, Uwe D'rose's guitar passages drive significant portions of the track and are balanced by Mike Varty's keyboard arpeggios. Listen for the band's backing harmonies. Tracy's extremely powerful vocal lines and excellent supporting harmonies are fantastic and perfectly fit the track's arrangement.

Entertaining Angels is a superb album and has clearly been worth the wait since Landmarq's last release. Visit the Entertaining Angels website to purchase the album directly from the band. Featured artist Tracy Hitchings continues to demonstrate outstanding vocal talent delivering theatrical and dramatic performances with Landmarq and it's great to hear her latest work with them here. Bravo!

 
Yesterdays - Almost Like Love - EP Cover Artwork
cover art by Molnár Ildikó, 2006
image © www.yesterdays.hu 2012


More Yesterdays:
Holdfénykert (Moonlit Garden) (2007)
exclusive interview and album review
Colours Caffé (2011)

Yesterdays - 2012 Band Photo
click on image for band's FaceBook
Raluca Bilațiu (lead vocals)
is now fronting Yesterdays
image © Yesterdays 2012

 

(17 March 2012) For visitors not familiar with Yesterdays, the band live in Romania as Romanians but they are ethnically Hungarians. Formed in 2000, Yesterdays plays progressive rock, a mixture of the wonderful vintage sound of the seventies and the modern sound of the progressive rock including elements from jazz and pop music.

Yesterdays have released a new five-track EP entitled Almost Like Love (Yesterdays (Romania), 2012). The new release comes on the heels of their Karaksony (Yesterdays (Romania), 2011) "Winter" EP, a five track digital download fronted by female vocalist Linda Horváth.

Several songs on the EP are fronted by Yesterdays' new lead singer Raluca Bilațiu. Raluca takes over for the band's former vocalist Linda Horváth who sang with Yesterdays on their Colours Caffé album, the band's "Winter" EP and several contributions the band made to compilations. The balance of the lineup is: Ákos Bogáti-Bokor (guitars, keyboards, vocals); Zsolt Enyedi (keyboards); Zoltán Kolumbán (bass); Domokos Csergő (drums); Gábor Kecskeméti (flute, harpsichord); and József Szücs (drums, percussion). The revised lineup builds on the individuals' talents and the band's songwriting as well as Raluca's crystalline lead vocal work.

The 20-minute Almost Like Love includes the all-new title track, an upbeat ABBA-esque pop-styled tune. The track serves as a great introduction to the smooth and warm sounds of the band's new vocalist and layers of her self-backed harmonies. The EP also includes two progressively styled songs from the Winter EP--"Indulok-érkezel" and "Várom az ünnepeket" (Mohai Tamás cover)--gorgeously sung by Linda Horváth whose crystalline voice shimmers above backing harmonies she sings alongside other band members.

Another new track is "Torn Apart" which listeners will recognize as the upbeat progressive track "Zápor" from Colours Caffe album but sung in English with Raluca's lead vocals. Yesterdays enthusiasts will note that the new vocalist, who sings in a slightly lower register than the former, has a rich sound and more powerful style, further enhanced by the layering done in the production process. A Yesterdays cover "White Car" has also been included on this EP. The Buggles-original was performed by Yes on their Drama album. The Yesterday's version includes both male and female vocal work atop arrangements that build on the Yes original.

Yesterdays are planning to make the EP available almost exclusively as a digital download. We were told by Akos, "[Physicals will be available,] although it will be a home-made CDR copy, we'll press only 20-30 of these." So the CD will be stricktly a limited edition! Yesterdays are presently working on their next full length album and continue touring to promote Colours Caffé and their new material as well.

 
The Reasoning - And Another Thing ... - EP Cover Artwork
click image for The Reasoning website
image © Comet Music 2012


Rachel Cohen (lead vocals)
click image for The Reasoning FaceBook
Rachel Cohen (lead vocals)
image © Comet Music 2012
 

(16 March 2012) The Reasoning was founded by Matthew Cohen and colleagues following his departure from Magenta. Fomer Karnataka lead singer, Rachel Jones, joined the band providing some lead and backing vocals as their first album Awakening (Comet Music (UK) CM10207, 2007) was being completed. She is also pictured in the album's four page booklet. The Reasoning's debut album has a mix of styles spanning progressive, album-oriented rock and metal-edged influences.

By 2008's Dark Angel, the band experienced some lineup changes as Rachel Cohen moved into the lead vocalist spotlight. Extensive touring, release of an EP, a DVD and a live recording of their performance at ROSFest led to their broader acclaim. Their ROSFest live performance is commemorated in 2011's Live In The USA: The Bottle of Gettysburg. We are informed by correspondents that the live album and the Highway to High Voltage DVD do an outstanding job of capturing the band's live vibe.

A delightful collection of acoustic renditions of the band's nine most popular numbers entitled Acoustically Speaking (Comet Music (UK) CM061210, 2010) illustrates how Rachel has become the frontwoman of The Reasoning. In addition to her work with The Reasoning, Rachel is not only active on FaceBook, maintaining a broad following worldwide, but she is also in the final stages of completing her PhD.

The Reasoning lineup today is Rachel Cohen (vocals, percussion); Owain Roberts (guitar); Tony Turrell (keyboards, piano, backing vocals); Matthew Cohen (bass, additional guitars, programming, backing vocals); and Jake Bradford-Sharp (drums). In early 2012, The Reasoning was signed to Esoteric / Cherry Red label. The band's first release on the new label is due in September 2012.

The last self-release by The Reasoning is a four-track EP entitled And Another Thing ... (Comet Music (UK) CM080312, 2012). It is available as a digital download and in physical form. The four tracks span The Reasoning's style nicely and tease listeners with expectations of the next full length album. "One By One" is an upbeat rock song that shows the band in top form. Rachel's lead vocals are presented in the lead and backing harmonies; band members join with backing vocal duties, show their chops during the instrumental bridge and provide superb arrangements in the standout track.

Listen for Rachel's evocative and crystalline lead "Apophenia," which begins, in contrast, as lightly arranged piano-based ballad before the richer progressive arrangement laced with thick guitar develops in the bridge and supports the powerful vocal harmonies that lead to the light conclusion of the song. "Pale Criminal" is a memorable verse-chorus rock number that blends acoustic guitar with electronic instrumentation. In addition to the vast electric guitar excursions that develop in the track, listen for Matthew Cohen's great Chris Squire-styled bass playing in the rhythm section.

The Reasoning's new EP concludes with "21 Grams." 21 Grams is a 2003 American drama film directed by Alejandro González Ińárritu and written by Guillermo Arriaga. It stars Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Danny Huston, and Benicio del Toro. Inspired by the film's concept and somewhat more downtempo than the other three on this EP, Rachel's crystalline vocals contrast metal-band styled spoken words by other band members and the crunching guitar lines and powerful keyboards.

The Reasoning are advancing from strength to strength and have been making good progress towards their September 2012 release. Wish them good fortune in the completion of this highly anticipated project. In the meantime, support the band by listening to this stunning And Another Thing ... EP.

 
The Debbie Miller - Measures + Waits - EP Cover Artwork
click image for Debbie's website
image © The Debbie Miller 2012


Debbie Miller - Fake Love - CD Cover Artwork
click image for Debbie's FaceBook
image © The Debbie Miller 2010

Debbie Miller
click image for Debbie's FaceBook
image © The Debbie Miller 2012

 

(18 March 2012) Seattle-based singer/songwriter Debbie Miller will tug at your heart, cause you giggle, and make you think twice about crossing her, sometimes all during the same song. Blending humor with heart-wrenching honesty, Miller's unique lyrics and playful melodies capture and delight audiences from coast to coast. Debbie's self-released debut album Fake Love drew critical acclaim in 2010. Her new six-track EP Measures & Waits (The Debbie Miller (USA), 2012) is her second offering.

Debbie is a classically trained pianist who studied under a Julliard alumna for ten years. She also has a very pure and crystalline voice. The artist began her career in the Brooklyn and East Village music scenes in 2007, after singing backup with friend and fellow songwriter Shanna Zell. The thrill of that experience inspired the New York native to begin writing her own songs, and, after penning the tune "Fake Love," was encouraged by friends and peers to continue writing. Debbie's song topics range from love to bathroom graffiti and her music oscillates flawlessly between heartfelt ballads, folk-ish tunes on guitar and pounding numbers on the piano.

Debbie was offered her first official gig in 2008. She was still so new the scene that she didn't have enough material to fill an entire set. So she wrote more, including the crowd favorite "Snippets From A Bathroom Stall." A live version appears on Measures + Waits.

Released in May 2010, Fake Love was recorded in 2009 at Sound Slope by Greg Coladarci (bass, percussion, guitar), Fake Love features both symphonic and delicate moments; with Jeremiah Birnbaum (guitar), Madeleine Craw-Corliss (cello), and Fred Kennedy (drums). A catchy, cinematic account from an innovative singer/songwriter, the album was selected as a CDBaby favorite.

With quirky lyrics that teeter between honesty, seriousness and silliness, Debbie -- who was named "New York’s best kept secret" by ResidentMediaPundit -- has developed a reputation for her unique live shows, which are often highlighted by her propensity for error. Debbie says, "I always mess up somehow in a live show. Whether I forget the words, screw up the music, or fall off the stage -- true story."

These "Debbie Do-overs" have become fan favorites. She continues, "I think it’s because people respond to authenticity and honesty in art and performance." Never overly serious, Fake Love actually ends with a funny bonus track that showcases a Debbie Do-over at its best.

We are told Debbie's new EP Measures + Waits is a play on the phrase "Weights & Measures.” The disc is about the toils of measuring and waiting for love. Debbie told us, "The 'measuring' refers to quantifying all the little or big things that make up life." She continues, "Specifically in the song 'Inch by Inch,' which talks about measuring the physical things you have with someone and rationing out the time you spend with that person, because you never know when that time is going to end."

The new EP was recorded at The Creamery Studio in Brooklyn, and engineered by Jon Hildenstein in August 2011. Produced and mixed by Greg Coladarci, the six-track EP features Jeremiah Birnbaum (guitar, mandolin), Greg Coladarci (bass, percussion, guitar), Jon Hildenstein (bass, percussion), Amanda Gookin (cello), Fred Kennedy (drums), and Leah Goldstein (lead vocals, backing vocals).

In addition to the stunning first single (available for free download from Debbie's site for a limited time), four of the tracks on Measures + Waits are studio recordings. Her piano laden songs are clearly in the singer songwriter territory. Listeners won't find the more richly arranged tracks from Fake Love on the new EP.

In contrast to the studio tracks, the final song is a live recording. "Snippets from a Bathroom Stall" -- perhaps included as the Debbie Do-Over of the new EP -- gives listeners far and wide a glimpse into the experience of a live evening with [The] Debbie Miller performing on stage.

Debbie Miller has performed at The Living Room, Rockwood Music Hall, Bar 4 and Café Vivaldi in New York City. In Seattle she's graced the stages of the Fremont Abbey, Conor Byrne Pub, and JewelBox Theater at the Rendezvous. The release of Measures + Waits will be celebrated at the Columbia City Theater. Listen to Debbie Miller today.

 
Charlotte Martin - Hiding Places - Cover Artwork
image © Test-Drive Records 2012

Charlotte Martin Reviews:
Dancing on Needles (2011)
Piano Trees (2009)
Orphans (2008)
Reproductions (2007)
Something Like a DVD Bonus CD (2007)
Spring Tour Reviews (2006)
Veins (2005)
On Your Shore (2004)
In Parentheses (2003)
Test-Drive Songs (2002)

Charlotte Martin Interviews:
Interview (Something Like A DVD) (2006)
Interview (Stromata) (2006)
Interview (Darkest Hour) (2005)
Interview (Buffalo, Hartford) (2005)
Interview (On Your Shore) (2004)

Charlotte Martin (2011)
click for Charlotte Martin's FaceBook
photo: Erin Russell Photography
image © Test-Drive Records 2012
 

(25 March 2012) The latest offering from Charlotte Martin is a combination DVD/CD set entitled Hiding Places (Test-Drive Records (USA) 885767417816, 2012). The set is comprised of an eight track audio EP and twelve track DVD. The EP includes three acoustic versions of previous numbers and five all-new songs. It is also available as a digital download.

The Hiding Places DVD was filmed, edited and produced by Ken Andrews. It showcases Charlotte Martin's two sold-out shows at Joe's Pub from January 2011. The 70-minute live performance and documentary DVD is the first official release of the artist's career that is uncensored, in her own words, and emphasizes the importance of her fight to continue making music despite all odds.

EP. As this review goes to initial print, our editorial staff has h previewed only the audio tracks for review. The stunning track "Mission Control" is the rousing and richly arranged opening number. Charlotte Martin's crystalline lead vocal soars above the swirling electronic arrangements. Lush backing harmonies add texture to the memorable chorus.

The first of three stunning acoustic renditions of earlier recordings is "The Dance." Listen for Charlotte's dramatic vocalise in the song's the final passage. As a perfect complement to the DVD that accompanies the EP, the new studio track has a live feel.

In the acoustic version of "Animal," piano backs Charlotte's evocative vocal delivery and layers of self harmonies underscore the melody. The final acoustic number is "Stromata." While her piano accompaniment contributes to the overall sound--listen for the tapping of the pedal--the new arrangement clearly features Charlotte's evocative vocal work.

"Tough" is a new acoustic-style track that works well alongside the other acoustic songs on Hiding Places. Similarly "The Last Song" is a gentle piano-backed ballad. We especially admire the glistening vocal production and very accurate reproduction of the piano part. Both songs sung atop lone piano, Charlotte's crystalline vocals gorgeously soar, sensually delivering the lyrical pasages.

Additional percussion joins guitar, keyboard and piano for the more powerful arrangement of "In A World." Additional vocal layers contribute to the rich sound of this new song. The EP concludes with standout track "Warrior." In addition to the piano melody that graces the track, strings add further texture, especially in the song's dramatic mid-section.

DVD. Under construction.

Perfect for long-time followers and new fans alike, the DVD/CD set captures Charlotte Martin's intense live performance and those that haven't seen her live will appreciate the behind the scenes footage.

 
Epica - Requiem For The Indifferent - Cover Artwork
image © Nuclear Blast 2012

More Epica
.: reviews and interviews :.
Design Your Universe (2009)
The Divine Conspiracy (2008)
Consign To Oblivion (2005)
The Phantom Agony (2003)

Simone Simons
Simone Simons (lead vocals)
click image to visit Epica FaceBook
image © Nuclear Blast 2012

Simone Simons
Simone Simons (lead vocals)
click image to visit Epica MySpace
image © Nuclear Blast 2012

Simone Simons
Simone Simons (lead vocals)
click image to visit Epica MySpace
image © SharQ Photography 2012

 

(27 March 2012) Epica has arisen to be one of the most successful Dutch progressive metal bands of the decade. Founded by Mark Jansen, formerly with After Forever, from their debut release The Phantom Agony (2003) and supporting singles, the band drew tremendous attention by combining the stunning vocal work of Simone Simons with sympnonic metal arrangements. They followed up with two albums in 2005. The first, Consign To Oblivion, continued to build the band's sound along the same vector as their debut. The second, The Score, clearly demonstrated Jansen's desire to develop a more orchestral, classically-derived, sound.

In addition to the extensive range of singles that span the band's career, a well-filmed DVD released early in their career drew attention to their live performances outside of Holland and Germany leading to tours that reached far corners of the globe. Between albums, the band released The Road To Paradiso (2006), a uniquely created sound book to their fans' delight. Promoted a with vast tour, The Divine Conspiracy (2007) carefully blended orchestral work into their repertoire. Backed with a huge orchestra and amazing choir, The Classical Conspiracy (2009), is a 2xCD set that captures both the classical and heavy rock aspects of Epica. During this period, Epica's lead vocalist Simone Simons also contributed to the Xystus recording of Equilibrio - A Rock Opera (2008). Our three interviews with the vocalist span Epica's first three albums.

Design Your Universe in 2009 took the band to yet another high water mark. It was the Epica's fifth album and a record that bursts up boundaries and makes your breath slow down. Epica has never sounded that intensive and unique, so versatile and hymnic. Known as a perfectionist, songwriter Mark Jansen has exceeded himself and presents the most mature, heaviest and best album to date. The majestic mix of classical music, gothic and heavy metal could be the soundtrack of a fantasy epos as well. Mystical synth parts mix up with orchestral bombastic choirs and a classical set up at its best. Over the top you find the ravishing beauty and stunning vocalist Simone Simons with her operatic and dynamic voice, which enchants everybody and everything. You'll hear a wide range of her musical personalities in this recording.

Requiem For The Indifferent (Nuclear Blast (USA), NB 2558, 2012) is Epica's fifth studio album. The album's fourteen original tracks run for about 80 minutes. Fronted by Simone Simons (vocals) and led by Mark Jansen (guitars, grunts and screams), the Epica line-up is completed by Coen Janssen (synths and piano), Yves Huts (bass), Isaac Delahaye (guitars) and Ariën van Weesenbeek (drums). Requiem For The Indifferent was produced, mixed and mastered by the legendary Sascha Paeth at The Gate Studio in Wolfsburg, Germany.

When asked to put listeners inside one of the songs from the new album, Simone said in a recent interview, "Regarding, 'Serenade of Self-Destruction,' I am a movie freak and I saw this movie. It's called Shogun, and I like the Japanese culture and the samurai and the suicide ritual. The song has a Japanese feeling. I wanted to write about it, it's about suicide seen through different perspectives of culture, like for samurai, it's about preserving honor, or it can be about tan individual who is not happy with life anymore. There is also 'Storm the Sorrow,' which was written by our keyboardist for our bass player, since he has a certain rhythm and we wanted to write a song about it." Read the rest of the interview here.

Requiem For The Indifferent is full of the band's now trademark hymns, significant lyrics and powerful guitar riffing. Epica's sound of course also includes cinematic interludes and Simone Simons' angelic voice. Her crystalline vocals grace the songs of the album that vary from hard metal-edged rock to anthems, hymns and ballads. The new album is it is a very logical step from Design Your Universe. It is an album which has to grow on the listener, so make sure to give it a plenty of time to get the whole picture.

Epica has mixed hard, technical and fast with intimate and slow, with as good as everything in between. However, on Requiem there are the huge contrasts as well. The album takes a journey through brutal metal, sweet melodies, technical instrumental passages, theatrical moods, epic orchestration, varying vocal ranges, catchy tunes and complex songwriting. Listen for the richly arranged harmonious choral parts on the album as well.

Epica connects all these extremes flawlessly, making this a more dynamic, more versatile, more detailed, more style transitions than their earlier outings. All of this is actually an accumulation of individual talent, as the band is comprised of several of the finest musicians around. Fronted by Simone Simons, who has an extremely diverse, unique and enchanting voice is supported by an outstanding lineup. Ariën Van Weesenbeek, one of the best drummers in the metal scene, supported by the solidness of bass player Yves Huts. Isaac Delahaye, known for his adventurous guitar riffs and praised for his tasty soloing. Mark Jansen, main songwriter of the band, rhythm guitarist and grunter. The classically trained pianist Coen Janssen, who is also responsible for all the choir arrangements.

Requiem for the Indifferent is proof that this band is on a constant quest for renewal and that only the best is good enough. The album title refers to the end of an era. Mankind can no longer stick their head in the sand for the things that are happening around us: tensions between different religions and cultures, wars, natural disasters, a huge financial crisis. As we are all connected; the universe, the earth, nature, animals and human beings, this period in time will be the prelude to the end for those who still don't want to, or simply won't see it. A requiem for the indifferent but also a possibility for a new beginning with great new chances.

In a surprise turn of events following the release of Requiem For The Indifferent, Epica realized that the version "Serenade of Self-Destruction" on the first pressing of the CD was not the intended version thereby making it a rarity. The band and their label released the intended version digitally for everyone that acquired the original album. In addition to both versions sounding incredible, we admire how the band and the label handled this incident. Epica go from strength to strength. Bravo!

 
Heart - Strange Euphoria - Box Set Cover
image © Epic Records 2012

More Heart:
A Retrospective: Live Performance and Album Reviews (2004)

Ann and Nancy Wilson
click on image for Heart's FaceBook
Heart: Ann and Nancy Wilson
image © Legacy Recordings 2012
 

(12 June 2012) It could be argued that this website owes a great deal to Heart. Before the mid-70s, female-fronted rock bands were amazingly rare. There were plenty of female solo artists, of course, names like Joni Mitchell, Buffy Saint Marie and Janis Joplin trip of the tongue easily. But aside from Fleetwood Mac, a band with two female singers? Now that was a real novelty.

Though always very much a band, since 1976 it has revolved around sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson. The two women provide an interesting contrast. Ann--dark haired and passionate--has a huge voice, capable of massive, bluesy power and gentle restraint in the same song. She is operatic in spirit, though her voice is far more natural sounding than many of the power vocalists featured in this website, taking her lead from soul, and the blues influenced Robert Plant, rather than the metal singers of the 1980s. Her useful flute playing is also seriously underrated.

Nancy--blonde and slim--has a gentler, folkier voice, and sings lead on perhaps 20% of the band's material. Her virtuosic acoustic guitar playing is her greatest strength, though her mandolin work is wonderful, and over the years she has developed into a more than useful electric rhythm player. Importantly, their voices combine beautifully, with both power and delicacy.

The band had existed in the Seattle area long before the two sisters became involved, but Ann joined the band in the early 70s. She was just the impetus the band needed, which already revolved around talented guitarist Roger Fisher and multi-instrumentalist Howard Leese, and she had soon drafted in her little sister to provide backing vocals and acoustic guitar. By the time they had signed to tiny Canadian label Mushroom, the Wilson sisters were writing most of the band's material. Find our contest question below and be the tenth to respond to our contact address to win your own copy of the box set.

Heart's new box set Strange Euphoria (Epic/Legacy (USA), 2012) is a carefully crafted and considered anthology of their biggest hits and best-loved songs set alongside deep catalog treasures, rarities, demos and live performances. The box is comprised of three compact discs and a DVD in a deluxe box. A bonus CD of Heart's Led Zeppelin covers is provided in the special amazon.com edition. Although the women were not available this year for a Musical Discoveries interview, selected comments on the project were provided.

"In all the years we have been making music we have seen trands come and go," said Anne Wilson. "We have always felt that to try and chase the latest 'it' sound is pointless, and we have tried to remain true to ourselves as songwriters and musicians. Sometimes we have had amazing success and heard ourselves on the radio." She continued, "At other times not so much, but the music is always playing in our house."

All of the CDs in this box set are graced with previously unreleased demos, live tracks or alternate versions. It makes the set a great addition to diehard Heart fans as well as listeners that may be hearing the band for the first time. The demos pay tribute to the tremendous assets of these women and allow their vocal and instrumental chops to shine.

Ann Wilson said, "In this box we have included many things that until now have never seen the light of day. Also here are our favorite deep tracks and live moments that really speak to who we are on the stage and the connection between us and the people who show up to rock." She says, "It has many facets just like we do, but the spirit running through it is all Heart."

Musical Discoveries' 2004 retrospective on Heart (feature) not only provides further depth on Heart's history but also includes reviews of their albums up to that date. Heart released their first album of new material since that article entitled Red Velvet Car (2010), embarked on additonal tours, and we understand that the band is completing of an album of all new material set for release later this year.

Strange Euphoria's listeners will immediately notice the lighter texture that the first compact disc has over Heart's later material. The demos and acoustic tracks have a folky feel and will appeal most to female vocalist enthusiasts. The more richly produced rock numbers will certainly be equally appreciated. While the box has much to offer every listener, the demos and acoustic tracks were most appreciated by our editorial staff.

Heart stormed the charts in the 1970s with hits like "Crazy On You," "Magic Man," "Barracuda," "Straight On," "Even It Up," "Kick It Out," and many more. These hits are all included in the box set in one form or another. Pay specific attention to the tremendous demo version of "Crazy On You" on the first disc. Not only did the Wilson sisters lead the band, they wrote the songs and played the instruments, making them the first women in rock to do so.

The band continued to chart through the 1980s and 1990s with songs including "These Dreams," "Alone," "Never," and a string of other hits that showcased Ann and Nacy's tremendous talents as both musicians and singers. They sold more than 35 million records, had 21 top 40 hits, sold out arenas worldwide, and profoundly influenced the sound and direction of American rock music while inspiriting woman around the world to rock out in bands of their own. They were also the 2008 recipients of VH1 Rock Honors, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Northwest Grammy Foundation and received ASCAP's award for Excellence in Songwriting in 2009.

While those purchasing the box from amazon.com will be treated to Heart's covers of classic Led Zeppelin tracks, everyone that buys the box will be provided the KWSU program from February-March 1976 entitled The Second Ending featuring Heart on DVD. Well produced for video from this time frame, the DVD includes ten of Heart's classic tracks including "Crazy On You," "Dreamboat Annie," "Heartless" and "Magic Man." All will agree with our editorial staff that the band are as tremendous on stage as they are in their studio recordings.

Heart has endured across four decades and thirteen studio albums, from Dreamboat Annie (1976) through Red Velvet Car (2010), is simply the quality of the music and the Wilsons' ability to eonnect to the emotions and experiences of their audience. Strange Euphoria represents the first time Ann and Nancy have personally curated a collection of their work and is the only time they've opened up their vaults to share stunning demos and rarities never before heard by the public. The set includes song-by-song annotations, anecdotes and commentary by the Wilson sisters. Fantastic!

 
Marina Cruzo - We
image © Marina Cruzo 2009

.: Marina Cruzo :.
interview and photos (2012)

Marina Cruzo
click on image to visit Marina's FaceBook
image © Marina Cruzo 2012

 

(09 June 2012) Marina Cruzo is a classical crossover artist now based in Russia. Her self-released debut album We'll Meet Again (2009) is a collection of both classical crossover standards and other songs featuring the singer's stunning mezzo-soprano vocal work. The thirteen tracks on perfect length album were arranged by Igor Ivanchenko and was produced by Michael Kuvshinov and Yan Foss.

Marina was born in a friendly and loving family. Due to the profession of the her parents, they stayed abroad for a long time. Most of her childhood she spent in Greece, where her father had a house on a small island in the Gulf of Corinth. Despite the tough working schedule her father and mother devoted a lot of attention to the development and education of their daughter who aspired to sing from a young age. Be sure to read our exclusive June 2012 interview with Marina to learn more about her background and her work.

The family always worshiped arts, so the atmosphere in the house was in tune with their interests. Interesting and talented people were not only their guests, but they became part of the family. The future singer was growing up in a special atmosphere filled with the sounds of classical music, intellectual disputes and infinite love for arts. Marina has developed into a stunning and award-winning mezzo-soprano since those early days.

The album opens with Marina's tremendous operatic delivery of "Winter Light" by Eric Kasz, Linda Ronstadt and Zbigniew Antony Preisner. "Torna A Surriento" is one of the less frequently covered classical standards. Marina's heartfelt rendition is sung superbly and masterfully arranged. Her delivery of the longstanding classical crossover standard "Hijo de la Luna" is awe inspiring challenging Sarah Brightman while the almost showtune arrangement of "Granada" reveals Russian influences within this album. Album owners familiar with the tunes will note the switch of the song names on the back cover.

Marina's recording of Handel's "Lasaci ch'io Pianga" aria is flawless with crystalline vocals soaring over the light arrangement. Equally stunning is this album's operatic version of "Be My Love." In another Sarah Brighman challenge, Marina takes on "En Arajuez Con Tu Amor" and hits the ball out of the park with her delivery. Producers are to be commended for the fantastic acoustic guitar arrangement that does the recording artists proud. The instrumental passages dominate "Chanson Boheme, however Marina's crystalline vocals soar above orchestra parts.

Three album standouts immediately follow, beginning with "O mio babbino caro." The track, covered by many classical crossover artists, is certainly as well performed by Marina. However, Marina's version of "La Wally" is certainly one of the very best ever heard by our editorial staff. And from The Phantom of the Opera, Marina's rendition of "The Music of the Night" is equally superb.

Marina's upbeat operatic performance of Borodin's "The Sleeping Princess" is complemented by rich string arrangements. The album concludes with the title track "We'll Meet Again." Read Marina's comments about the track in our interview. Written by Ross Parker and Hughie Charles, the show tune suits Marina's vocal style and her recording is a fantastic ending to this superb album.

At this writing, Marina Cruzo is recording a new album of new classical crossover songs written exclusively for her. Marina Cruzo is a brilliant classical crossover artist with a bright future. Her album is not widely distributed but classical crossover enthusiasts should certainly invest the time to locate a copy for their collections. In the meantime be sure to listen to the tracks available at the artist's MySpace, SoundCloud or YouTube channel. Bravo!

 

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