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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
Beverley Staunton
Jody Quine
Jennifer Hershman/Chic.P
Colleen Coadic
Colleen Coadic
Colleen Coadic
Camille Miller
Rose Chronicles
Rose Chronicles
Rose Chronicles
Delerium
Delerium

Links
Digest Index
More Digest Entries
Previous Digest Entries
Instrumental Digest
 
Here's To You CD Cover
Image Staunton Music Corp 2001

More Balligomingo
Beneath The Surface
Vic Levak Interview


More Beverley Staunton
Interview and Photos
Here's To You

More Jody Quine
Interview and Photos
Star

More Jennifer Hershman
Interview and Photos
Knowingly Naive


More Colleen Coadic
Interview and Photos
Today
Scream Of Consciousness
The Opposite Only Better


More Camille Miller
Interview and Photos
She Knows


More Jennifer Baldwin
Interview and Photos

More Kristy Thirsk
Interview and Photos
Dead and Gone to Heaven
Shiver
Happily Ever After
Semantic Spaces
Karma
Odyssey

 

The Women of Balligomingo

This special edition of our digest--published just three weeks after the release of Balligomingo's Beneath The Surface (review)--presents reviews of further recordings by the album's vocalists.

Scroll this page to read reviews of the solo albums by Beverley Staunton, Jody Quine, Jennifer Hershman (Chic P), Colleen Coadic and Camille Miller. We also review Kristy Thirsk's work with Rose Chronicles and Delerium.

click here to view the July 2002 album review digest


(03 July 2002) The debut solo album by Beverley Staunton Here's To You (Staunton Music (Canada) BCD-80001-2, 2001) is comprised of eleven jazz-oriented numbers. Beverley provides all lead and backing vocals. Torben Oxbol (piano, bass, guitar, sequencing) collaborates on the album while guests Campbell Ryga (alto sax), Jack Stafford (tenor sax), Brad Turner (flugelhorn) and Ian Mcdouglall (trombone) guest in various instrumental parts. Ten of the pieces are written by well-known composers while the title track is cowritten by Torben Oxbol and Beverley Staunton. The album is available from the artist's website and popular Vancouver-based retail outlets.

Here's to You is a highly impressive collection of jazz and downtempo songs that are sure to please fans of female-fronted jazz music. Eschewing imitation, Beverley instead flavours each track with her own glowing style. What is clear is that Beverley has an extremely charismatic voice--and equally important, one can sense that she takes great pleasure in performing these songs. Each track radiates thisjoy, and in turn this joy infuses the listener.

Although fans may know Beverley's voice from the Balligomingo electronica project, Here's to You demonstrates that she can cross genres with ease. Here's to You is definitely a "breezy day at the beach" sort of listening experience. Beverley's voice should further be commended for her vibrant enunciation of the lyrics--each word of each song is clear and understandable. Like folk singer Connie Dover, Beverley is in that (increasingly rare) category of vocalists that one can actually comprehend.

Beverley originally hails from Montreal, and began her career at an early age, performing with her siblings as "The Staunton Family." After attaining considerable commercial success with her family group, Beverley entered the Hamilton Music Academy in Los Angeles where she studied Musical Theatre, Jazz, Pop and Dance. After graduating, Beverley received a scholarship which allowed her to continue her vocal training. Presently, Beverley resides in Vancouver, and continues to perform as a solo singer and a session singer.

Our favorite tracks on this album include the pouty and seductive "All Night Long," the flamenco-touched "Charade," the sweet toe-tapping "The Look of Love," and the romantically chill "My Foolish Heart." Here's to You is perfect for either a candlelit sultry evening or a relaxed day in the outdoors. Worth a journey, it is clearly a must listen!.--Justin Elswick

Beverley is continuing her work on a pop-oriented R&B album with collaborators Smith, Injeti and Anderson. The project, presently at the demo stage, includes five near-complete tracks which are being professionally shopped around to various labels and further producers. We were immediately drawn to the lush arrangements and incredibly stunning vocal work of the material.

"Bounce" is an upbeat latin-influenced rhythmic dance number, much in a Jennifer Lopez style. The style further develops in "Dance Comigo"--Beverley's edgy vocals perfectly compliment the rich guitar-based and horn-laden latin-R&B arrangements. The tempo slows in "Tell Me," a Britney Spears-style ballad with the pop-star's typical sound replaced by Beverley's tender and evocative voice.

"If I Had You" is a mid-paced tune crossing the boundaries of both pop stars mentioned above; lovely backing harmonies perfectly compliment the pulsating arrangement. Our demo concludes with the pop-oriented radio-friendly R&B tune "Picture Perfect." The album is scheduled for completion at the end of 2002--interested readers should return here for further news soon!

 
Star CD Cover
Image Jody Quine 2000

More Jody Quine
Interview and Photos
Balligomingo Review
The Hollywood Demo Review
 

(30 June 2002) Canadian folk/rock chanteuse Jody Quine is definitely an artist worth keeping an eye on. Although known for her vocal contributions to Garrett Schwarz's Balligomingo project on the songs "Purify" and "Privilege," Jody Quine's solo release, Star demonstrates that Jody is both a gifted and passionate singer and songwriter.

According to her website, Jody first discovered her calling as a vocalist when she stepped up to an open mic to perform lead vocals in front of a live audience. Thereafter, Jody spent several years in Vancouver and Toronto developing her guitar-playing and songwriting abilities. Jody has also studied acting and performed in numerous stage and theatre productions as well as travelled through the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

Each track on Star is worthy of mention and unique in its own right--neverthless, the following songs are particularly noteworthy: "Don't Remind" me exudes a k.d. lang-influenced langorousness that is simultaneously smart and sexy. By using dubbed harmonies, Jody captures the vision of a honey-laden afternoon in the sun. The lush and melancholy "Astounded" is a beautiful folksy piece; acoustic guitars caress Jody's pure and intimate voicings. This one could very well be a hit if it received wide play.

That sense of rural decay and night-hidden danger so perfectly captured by many Cowboy Junkies songs is recreated in the song "Long Wolf." A mesmerizing guitar plays an almost lullaby-ish lead that continuously circles while Jody's voice weaves a sense of regret and lonliness.

Sarah McLachlan could have easily penned the noirish "Superman" with its groovy organ and string tracks and laid-back funky percussion. A highly impressive debut, "Star" announces the arrival of a new voice that would fit comfortably in that Canadian panoply of female singer/songwriters which also includes Sarah McLachlan, Tara MacLean, Mae Moore and k.d. lang. With a powerful and genuinely lovely voice, penetrating lyrics, and compelling music, Jody Quine is no doubt headed for big things. We enthusiastically recommend "Star" and eagerly await Jody's next album.--Justin Elswick

Interested visitors should order Jody's album from indiepool.com.

 
Knowingly Alive CD Cover
Image Chic-P/Socan 1999

More Jennifer Hershman
Interview and Photos
Balligomingo Review
 

(30 June 2002) Jennifer Hershman, the singer who provided vocals for the song "Sweet Allure" on Balligomingo's debut album, Beneath the Surface, (review) has conjured up an enjoyable and sassy collection of six songs on her first E.P. entitled Knowingly Naive (Socom (Canada) MSCHPOO69, 1999).

Jennifer has been performing since the age of eight in numerous venues in Canada and the U.S. As an actress and vocalist, Ms. Hershman has had the opportunity to express herself creatively. Fans should note that Jennifer has dropped her personal name on Knowingly Naive and chosen, instead, to create music under the pseudonym, "Chic.P."

What is obvious from the outset is that Chic.P enjoys witticisms, sarcasm and paradoxes and incorporates these elements into her lyrics. For example, in the song "Dirty Mind," Chic.P chides, "when I'm feeling all used up and your looking through my garb, put your eyes back in your head, there's too much emphasis on sex." Another example of Chic.P's clever expression is found in the lyric "Thought about giving up on our species and your kind..."

Of all of the Balligomingo singers' solo projects, Chic.P's is probably most similar in sound to Beneath the Surface,incorporating electronic and dance elements. The opening track, "Dirty Mind" slams along with a trip-hop beat and swanky guitar rift. "Simple Pleasures" is a pleasant ballad-styled song backed by reverberating percussion. "Sparr" is a retro 80's-esque dance song that would raise the energy level in any nightclub. "I'm on a High" combines interesting electronic elements and a chorus that sounds as if the Go-Go's had contributed backing vocals. "Closet Intelligence" is a darker, guitar and synth driven number that is intriguing in mood. "Full of Emotion" is the club-friendly closing track that is both campy and entertaining at the same time.

Like Debbie Harry and Grace Jones, Chic.P clearly enjoys using her voice to express emotions ranging from sensuality to disdain, and does so with a healthy dose of "tongue-in-cheek"-ness.--Justin Elswick

While presently not available on many of the poplular online shops, the EP is available from Jennifer Hershman's website.

 
Today CD Cover
Image Badoo Toonz Music 1997

More Colleen Coadic
Interview and Photos
Balligomingo Review
Today
Scream Of Consciousness
The Opposite Only Better
 

(30 June 2002) The second album by Alaska's Colleen Coadic is a 14-track collection of singer songwriter style compositions entitled Today (1997). The singer's 12-track debut album Say Anything while currently available at online retailers has not been sent to our editors for review.

Today also contains contributions from Paul Pike (micmak vocables, lakotoa flute, guitar), Ryan Brownell (guitar), DurRon (drums), Chuck Henman (drums), Heather Birch (volin), Tom Lewis (piano, organ) and Sean Cobb (fretless bass). Colleen contributes all bass, acoustic guitar, percussion, programming and vocals). Liner notes for the album contain further details.

Musical Discoveries editors first discovered Colleen's music when working on the Balligomingo project. There you'll find a comprehensive interview with the artist. You can also click on the link in the left hand column to access both directly. Colleen contributed to the songs "Escape" and "Being" on the album.

In sharp contrast, Today is clearly set in the singer songwriter genre with arrangements softly rocking behind Colleen's highly expressive--shouting at times--voice. Harmonies add further texture to the tunes. Bluesy tracks and R&B-style numbers add interest to the selection. Experienced listeners will hear musings of Alison Moyet in Colleen's delivery. The album's standouts are the dense vocal number "I Am" which opens the album and the gently rocking tune "Can This Song Be My Lover?." Soaring vocals and tremendous electric guitar excursions characterise the first while lush keyboards are perfectly balanced with guitars and Colleen's powerful vocal delivery in the latter.

Colleen's vocal range and dramatic expressiveness are notable in the recording. Arrangements compliment the vocal work well in soft rocking numbers, gentle ballad pieces and typical singer songwriter coffee house style songs as well. Instrumental solos and riffs within the tracks serve to illustrate the virtuousity of the individual members of the group.

Visitors interested in exploring more should visit Colleen's website. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. Further reviews, soundbites, video segments and ordering information are available there. Worth a journey, especially for Balligomingo enthusiasts, the album is a nice listen!

 
Scream of Conscsiousness CD Cover
Image Badoo Toonz Music 1999

More Colleen Coadic
Interview and Photos
Balligomingo Review
Today
Scream Of Consciousness
The Opposite Only Better
 

(30 June 2002) The third album by Alaska's Colleen Coadic ("& the next twelve") is a further 12-track collection of singer songwriter style compositions entitled Scream Of Consciousness (Badoo Toonz (Canada) BT188202, 1999). The singer's earlier albums are also generally available through online shops.

Scream Of Consciousness includes contributions by Sean Cobb (bass), Kris Rosentrater (drums, percussion) and Bart Boggen (electric and classical guitar, banjitar). Guests included Stephnaie Rosentrater (additional vocals), Ian Cemeron (electric violin) and Dave Sampson. Colleen does the lead vocal work and is credited for acoustic guitar as well.

Musical Discoveries editors first discovered Colleen's music when working on the Balligomingo project. There you'll find a comprehensive interview with the artist. You can also click on the link in the left hand column to access both directly. Colleen contributed to the songs "Escape" and "Being" on the album.

One will immediately notice the improvement in vocal presence on the album. While the style remains clearly singer songwriter, the instrumental mix is sharper and clearer and new vocal harmonies are evident from the opening track "Wonder Years" and the serious rocker "Saving Grace." Arrangements are thicker--with lots of guitar riffs--and more professionally produced as well.

And if Today had slight musings of Alison Moyet, this follow-up album draws more heavily on the influence with stretches into Yaz as well, certainly evident in "My Adoring Glance" and "Hypnotized." The rocking texture coupled with the vocal and instrumental density of the album is a certain improvement. Rhymically moving numbers like "Baraka" and "Deep in the Pharmacy" and classic rockers like "Medocrity" and the gentler "Ripple" demonstrate the broad style of the album. Evocative ballads illustrate Colleen's softer stile and include "I'm Not Feeling Real," "Mother Me" and the stunning title track "Scream Of Consciousness"--a must listen.

Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. Visitors interested in exploring more should visit Colleen's website. Further reviews, soundbites, video segments and ordering information are available there. Worth a journey, especially for Balligomingo enthusiasts, the album is a nice listen!

 
The Opposite Only Better CD Cover
Image Colleen Coadic Socan/BMI 2001

More Colleen Coadic
Interview and Photos
Balligomingo Review
Today
Scream Of Consciousness
The Opposite Only Better
 

(30 June 2002) The fourth album by Alaska's Colleen Coadic is a 11-track collection of singer songwriter style compositions entitled The Opposite Only Better (Colleen Coadic (Canada) BT1212, 2001). The singer's former albums are generally available from online retailers

The Opposite Only Better builds on the singer's earlier album Scream Of Consciousness and produced by Sean Cobb (fretless bass, synth programming, sitar) also includes contributions Rob Kurzreiter (drums), Dennis Lind (12-string acoustic guitar) and Bart Boggan (electric guitar). Liner notes for the album include full lyrics and contain further details.

Musical Discoveries editors first discovered Colleen's music when working on the Balligomingo project. There you'll find a comprehensive interview with the artist. You can also click on the link in the left hand column to access both directly. Colleen contributed to the songs "Escape" and "Being" on the album.

The Opposite Only Better is delicately arranged, set midway between Scream of Consciousness and Today stylistically. Keyboard parts are certainly as promiment but vocal harmonies are more subdued in this latest release. The album opens with the rocking and highly accessible number "Splashpoint." The sound is echoed further in "Tonic." We especially liked the powerful vocal excursions in the latter track and in the bluesy "Driven."

The upbeat and pop-oriented textures of "Beige" and "This Late Night" are somewhat new age Go-Gos/Belinda Carlisle-style and while appealing is not characteristic of Colleen's former music. A further departure is the electronic vocal effect in "Flakes" (think Cher) which may not appeal to all audiences. Colleen's familiar bluesy singing style returns in "Velvet Rape." "How To Culitivate A Garden" quickens the pace and lush harmonies compliment the crystalline lead.

Certain standout tracks are the gentle rocker "My Hunger" and "My Invincible Summer." Guitar arrangements perfectly compliment Colleen's evocatively sensual lead and backing vocals. The album closes with an upbeat new wave-style track entitled "The End." Vocal layers dominate while guitar-laden instrumental arrangements perfectly compliment the highly accessible melody.

Colleen Coadic's The Opposite Only Better is a natural extension of the artist's prior two solo albums. Accessible melodies, a range of styles, and lovely vocal excursions reveal the talent of one of Balligomingo's stunning vocalists. A very nice listen!

 
She Knows CD Cover
Image Camille Miller 2001

More Camille Miller
Interview and Photos
Balligomingo Review
 

(04 October 2001) The debut solo album from Canadian singer songwriter Camille Miller is a twelve track recording entitled She Knows (Socan (Canada) CMCD2, 2001). Musical Discoveries' readers will recall Camille's contribution to the track "Lost" on the Balligomingo EP (review). Visit Camille's website for a complete biographical sketch.

Camille provides lead vocals, guitars, percussion and keyboards to the project and is supported by her partner Nick Hagar (guitars and keyboards), Douglas Elliott (bass, loops, guitars, vocals, keyboards) Tina Jones (backing vocals, trumpet and percussion, Craig Northly (guitars) and Pat Steward (drums). Camille's vocal work can be most closely compared to Maryanne Marino of November Project (now disbanded) and Karin Bergquist of Over The Rhine (review).

She Knows presents a broader perspective of Camille Miller's work than the brief preview found on the Balligomingo album. Material ranges from rock-n-roll ("I Always Will," "Dry," "Sugar Mountain," "Intensities") to ballads ("I Love You" and "She Knows") and from the bluesy ("Great Expectations," "Mississippi") to R&B textures ("Bird on a Rooftop," "Soul Feed," "Understand").

Camille's evocative vocals are equally delightful across the landscape. We were most reminded of Maryanne Marino (November Project) in the deeply contrasting textures of "I Love You" which varies from hearfelt ballad to soft rocker and the lush harmonies of the highly accessible "Naive." Camille's vocal work in the blues/R&B crossover "Understand" is highly notable, perfectly complimented by supporting harmonies and instrumental arrangements.

The album concludes with the stunning soft rock number "Intensities," where instrumental and vocal arrangements perfectly compliment each other. Clearly worth a journey, especially for those that have enjoyed the work of November Project, Over The Rhine and Balligomingo, Camille's debut album She Knows is a very nice listen!

 
Kristy Thirsk
Image Barry Gnyp 2002

More Kristy Thirsk
Interview and Photos
Dead and Gone to Heaven
Shiver
Happily Ever After
Semantic Spaces
Karma
Odyssey
BootLegs
Balligomingo
 

The Music of Kristy Thirsk

Best known for her work with Juno Award-winning Rose Chronicles and Delerium, this special edition of our digest reviews material featuring the vocal work of soprano singer songwriter Kristy Thirsk. In addition to exclusive photographs embodied in our in-depth interview with the artist, we review her recordings with Rose Chronicles, Delerium and various other projects.

Kristy began to draw widespread acclaim as the lead singer in Rose Chronicles. She worked with Delerium not long after as a featured vocalist on the Semantic Spaces and Karma albums. Kristy embarked on a solo career as Rose Chronicles disbanded and treated audiences to a limited edition recording entitled Bootlegs. As a guest vocalist, she co-wrote and contributed a track to the Balligomingo album Beneath The Surface and wrote and performed another in the soundtrack of the motion picture Kissed.


(06 July 2002) The Dead and Gone to Heaven (Nettwerk Productions (Canada) W2-6318, 1993) EP is the debut recording of Rose Chronicles--a collaboration of Kristy Thirsk (vocals, lyrics) and Richard Maranda (guitars). The band were signed to Canada's Nettwerk Records, home of Sarah McLachlan and Delerium, after playing only two live shows.

Thirsk says, "When we signed with Nettwerk, Richard and myself never went out shopping for labels. We were young and just surprised at how quickly things were happening. Anyhow, I just thought, wow, that's Sarah McLachlan's label!" In addition to Thirsk and Maranda, Judd Cochrane (bass) and Steve van der Woerd (drums) contribute to this recording and those that followed. Their first full length album Shiver was released in 1994 and was followed up by their last album Happily Ever After (review) in 1996.

The band members met through ads in a local Vancouver paper and were signed to the label after a friend who knew an A+R person at Nettwerk recommended that Rose Chronicles contact Nettwerk. Representatives of the label appeared at a show and were wowed by the band's performance. They were quickly offered the opportunity to record a demo with the label.

By 1993, Rose Chronicles were ready to release their debut 5-track EP entitled Dead and Gone to Heaven, which received wide critical acclaim. Shortly thereafter, the follow-up LP, Shiver, was recorded. Again, the release was embraced by the critics and public alike. After a period of touring, band members Judd Cochrane and Steve van der Woerd decided to part company with Rose Chronicles. Kristy and Richard remained a duo, yet the original Rose Chronicles lineup re-entered the studio to record their final album. Although the Rose Chronicles maintained a large fan base and received the Juno Award for best new group, Kristy and Richard ultimately decided to part ways as well.

Kristy went on to record with labelmates Delerium on both Semantic Spaces (review) and Karma (review) and more recently with the electronica act, Balligomingo (feature). In addition, Kristy released several solo pieces and continued to perform live. Presently, Kristy is hard at work on her first solo album with producer Eric Rosse (Tori Amos). Fans can expect a release from Kristy in the forthcoming months. In fact, the amazing single "Runaway" has already received quite a bit of attention from the online community and foreshadows a great return for Kristy upon the release of her solo album.

The surreal and dreamy Dead and Gone to Heaven is a wonderful introduction to the Rose Chronicles catalogue and Kristy's powerful and varied voice.

The first track "Awaiting Eternity," is a striking and vibrant song that captures elements of the Cocteau Twins, and Love Spirals Downwards (albeit with a bit harder edge). Vocally, Kirsty is in prime condition alternating between pure soprano and low-end hum. "Echo of Angels" is a rocking but melodic piece with an irresistible chorus that features slamming guitars and kicking percussion. "Hollow Sea" follows in similar vein, though with a slightly 80's vibe.

"Clouding Doubt" begins with waves of tribal percussion followed by washed metallic guitar strums and Kristy's pensive vocals. The closing track "Dead and Gone to Heaven" features a lengthy storm soundtrack and (of all things), and a digeridoo drone with no vocals provides an eclectic ending to a well-balanced and entertaining album.--Justin Elswick

Dead and Gone to Heaven and the band's second full length album Happily Ever After remain generally available while Shiver has been deleted. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the product from amazon.com here. Certainly a must listen!

 
Shiver CD Cover
Image Nettwerk Productions 2004

More Kristy Thirsk
Interview and Photos
Dead and Gone to Heaven
Shiver
Happily Ever After
Semantic Spaces
Karma
Odyssey
BootLegs
Balligomingo
 

(03 August 2002) The first full length release by Rose Chronicles is an eleven--plus one hidden bonus--track album entitled Shiver (Nettwerk Productions (Canada) W2-30084, 1994). The band's background is summarised in our review of their debut EP "Dead and Gone to Heaven." The history is further elaborated in our review of their final album Happily Ever After.

Fronted by the powerful versatility of Kristy Thirsk's vocals (see interview link in the left hand column), the band's lineup also includes Richard Maranda (guitars), Judd Cochrane (bass) and Steve van der Woerd (drums and percussion). The album shares "Awaiting Eternity" with the band's previously released EP.

Rose Chronicles' unique sound blends rich rocking guitar- and bass-oriented arrangements with Kristy Thirsk's soaring vocal excursions that explore the versatile singer's full range and include layers of lovely harmonies. Upbeat numbers dominate the album although a few slower and mid-tempo tracks provide variability and add to the album's overall enjoyment. Clearly an album for Kristy Thirsk enthusiasts, listeners will be captured by her sensually pure vocal clarity. Those that discovered Rose Chronicles with "Dead and Gone to Heaven" are certain to be delighted with Shiver.

The lush standout track "Brick and Glue" features Kristy's soaring lead, glorious choral harmonies and contrasting bridge instrumental and rebellious vocal excursions. And in the mid-tempo rocker "Undertow," Kristy's powerful lead vocals and backing harmonies clearly steal the listener's attention away from the richly arranged guitar and bass lines. We especially enjoyed Kristy's harmonious vocal work and high soaring crystalline inflections in the evocative ballad "Visions."

Kristy's vocals are way up in the mix and exhibit vast range explorations in the varied-tempo track "Forgotten." The glorious "Awaiting Eternity" closes out the main portion of the album. The bonus track--an alternative acoustically-driven extended version of "Visions"--begins at the 7:24 mark and is full of soaring vocalise that will floor Kristy Thirsk enthusiasts.

Shiver is indeed a perfect full length introduction to Kristy Thirsk's incredible vocal talent and self-determined versatility. Unfortunately deleted at this writing, second hand copies are available through a variety of online resources, including amazon.com (here). Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, the album is highly recommended and certainly is a must listen!

 

Happily Ever After CD Cover
Image Nettwerk Productions 1996

More Kristy Thirsk
Interview and Photos
Dead and Gone to Heaven
Shiver
Happily Ever After
Semantic Spaces
Karma
Odyssey
BootLegs
Balligomingo
 

(06 July 2002) The third release by Rose Chronicles--featuring vocalist Kristy Thirsk and guitarist Richard Maranda--entitled Happily Ever After (Nettwerk Productions (Canada) 0 6700 30108 2 5, 1996) is comprised of thirteen tracks. The album is their second full length recording and came on the heels of their 1994 Shiver. The new album is said to much more bold and abstract than the former, but the sound is that of a more mature band.

Although Judd Cochrane (bass) and Steve van der Woerd (drums, percussion) departed from the band before this album was released, they do perform on the recording. Contrary to the album's title, Kristy and Richard parted ways following the release of Happily Ever After in 1996.

Happily Ever After is the Rose Chronicles final, and rowdiest album. Released in 1996, the Rose Chronicles third offering is a more intensely aggresive and experimental collection of songs. Producers Mike Plotnikoff, Kevin Hamilton, and Greg Reely all contributed their talents to the ironically named Happily Ever After.

Tracks like the Tori Amos-in-a-fierce-mood-inspired "Vicious Thorn," however demonstrate Rose Chronicles' undiminished ability to write catchy hooks that sound amazingly well against a backdrop of raging electric guitars and eerie instrumental sonics. More restrained numbers such as the Twin Peaks-ish "Blood Red" and lamenting "Torn" work equally well, displaying Kristy's ability to forcibly grab a song by the proverbial horns and to mould it to her vocal expressions.

Other favorites include "Acquiesce," a shoe-gazing styled number that drips melancholy and the languid Robin Guthrie flavored "Heaven Tide." "Spill," showcases Kirsty at her siren-singing best as she roams from high soprano peaks to angst-filled valleys.

Lyrically and musically, Happily Ever After is a dark and sometimes manic listening experience--yet despite this, the album captures moments of purity and brightness. It is this duality that, finally, is most fascinating--and Rose Chronicles is very much deserving of the praise that has been bestowed upon the band.--Justin Elswick

Happily Ever After and the band's debut EP Dead and Gone to Heaven remain generally available while Shiver has been deleted. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the band's available products from amazon.com here. Those interested in hearing Kristy Thrisk's vocal work prior to Delerium will find this album worth further exploration. It will grow on you with repeated plays and is a must listen!

 
Semantic Spaces CD Cover
Image Nettwerk Productions 1994

More Kristy Thirsk
Interview and Photos
Dead and Gone to Heaven
Shiver
Happily Ever After
Semantic Spaces
Karma
Odyssey
BootLegs
Balligomingo
  (30 June 2002) Semantic Spaces (Nettwerk Productions (Canada) W2-30092, 1994) released in 1994, represents Canadian duo, Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber's first musical foray into the world of vocal-ambient electronica. Although the two had previously released numerous albums under the pseudonym "Front Line Assembly" as well as under the name "Delerium," these previous works were largely instrumental and more intensely industrial.

Enigma's 1991 album, entitled MCMXC a.D. was a musical watershed, combining trip-hop/downtemp loops, chanting monks, and seductive female whispers. Many groups, including Balligomingo, ERA, Mythos, Morana, Oceania, and Deep Forest, have been deeply influenced by Enigma's hugely successful formula that merges the old and the new as well as the familiar and exotic.

Similarly, with the album Semantic Spaces, Delerium moved in a more world music/ethereal direction. Part of this transformation was accomplished through the inclusion of Rose Chronicles' vocalist Kirsty Thirsk who--like Delerium was a Nettwerk artist at the time--provides lead vocals on both "Flowers Become Screens" and "Incantation." Additionally, the songs on Semantic Spaces feature wonderfully fierce tribal and ethnic vocal samples and eerie woodwinds and chimes. This structure is undergirded by intense and varied drum tracks and loops and sinuous electronic flavorings.

Delerium's two subsequent albums, Karma and Poem reveal a development in the songwriting ability of the band. Whereas both of those albums feature more recognizable pop-song patterns, the tracks on Semantic Spaces are more divergent and lacking in concrete form. This is not to say that the songs on Semantic Spaces are lacking in interest. In fact, the melodies of these songs are incredibly attractive in their own right. However, Semantic Spaces definitely provides listeners with a more instrumental/ambient aural experience than either Karma or Poem (review).

Standout songs on Semantic Spaces include both "Flowers Become Screens" and "Incantation." As noted earlier, Kristy Thirsk provides lead vocals on these tracks. "Flowers Become Screens," the strange and compelling opening track, is a mid-tempo stunner. After its ominous and aqueous opening--during which Kristy's whispered vocals circulate--the song modulates into a positive major-key melody that utilizes Kristy's voice to the fullest. The chameleon-like "Incantation" begins with swirling synths and and rattling beat, but suddenly moves into the trance/techno realm with a pounding bassline and Gregorian male vocals. Again, Kristy's soprano voice provides a lush counterpoint to the dizzying electronic pulses. "Incantation" recieved impressive airplay and club play upon its release.

Other impressive tracks include "Consensual Worlds" and "Flatlands." The baroque-feeling "Consensual Worlds" opens with a synthetic organ-styled melody that could have been penned by Bach himself. In typical Delerium fashion, all of this disolves into mysterious ethnic chant and carnival-esque instrumentation creating a sense of playfulness and wonder. This reviewer particularly appreciates the clever homage to 80's band Yaz at the 6.06 mark in the song where a creamy lead synth breaks into a musical phrase quite like the one found in Yaz's "Don't Go."

"Flatlands" actually incorporates the main percussion line from Engima's "Sadeness." Although no lyrics are featured in this piece, Kristy does a fine job emitting her trademark banshee-like wails with thrilling results.

While the average music fan might find "Karma" and "Poem" more musically accessible, Semantic Spaces is well-stocked with lovely tunes that will appeal to most fans of electronica. For those who enjoy music with a "visual" element, Semantic Spaces is certainly an album that will open up the avenues of the imagination.--Justin Elswick

Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. Worth a transAtlantic journey, this one is a must listen!

 
Karma CD Cover
Image Nettwerk Productions 1997

More Kristy Thirsk
Interview and Photos
Dead and Gone to Heaven
Shiver
Happily Ever After
Semantic Spaces
Karma
Odyssey
BootLegs
Balligomingo
  (30 June 2002) Karma (Nettwork Productions (Canada) 0 6700 30113 2 7, 1997) is the stunning follow-up to Delerium's successful Semantic Spaces. Fans of the the earlier Semantic Spaces will not be disappointed by Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber's second journey into the haunted realm of Delerium. Both musically and vocally stronger than its predecessor, Karma spawned several international hits including "Silence" featuring the incomparable Sarah McLachlan, "Heaven's Earth," featuring the amazing Kristy Thirsk, and "Duende," featuring Sarah McLachlan's touring backup singer, Camille Henderson. In fact, "Silence" reached the top of the charts in Europe and has been re-mixed by some of the world's most renowned DJ's.

The increased appeal of Karma is no doubt in part attributable to the corresponding increased use of female vocalists. While Semantic Spaces (review) featured Kristy Thirsk prominently on only three of that album's nine tracks, Karma includes an array of incredible female vocalists who provide vocals for eight of the eleven tracks on the original release. Fans may do well to note that multiple editions of Karma have been released. Bonus editions have included various remixes of "Silence" and "Duende" as well as the non-album tracks, "Heaven's Earth" and "Window to Your Soul." "Heaven's Earth," featuring Kristy Thirsk at the vocal helm, is especially worth obtaining and is one of the highlights of the entire album.

Some of the notable tracks on Karma nclude "Enchanted." This premiere track is a trip-hoppy masterpiece through which the vocal samples of various indigenous tribes and Kristy Thirsk's eerie (almost sinister) keening weave. Both dark and majestic, "Enchanted" provides a gripping opening to Karma.

The now well-known number, "Silence" is probably the best track on the album. Engima-esque Gregorian chants circulate and meld with Sarah McLachlan's always distinctively beautiful vocals and Flamenco guitar flourishes. Of course, all of this is backed by propulsive percussion and saturated string textures. Sarah's voice cannot be praised enough, and "Silence" truly allows her to exercise her vocals skills to stunning effect.

"Euphoria (Firefly)" is the most straightforward pop-friendly track on Karma and provides a foretaste of the similarly more radio-friendly Poem (Delerium's latest release). Jacqui Hunt of Australian band Single Gun Theory delivers a knockout performance sounding like a sophisticated Madonna backed by funky jack-swing percussion.

Using vocal samples of the inimitable Lisa Gerrard (formerly of Dead Can Dance), both "Forgotten Worlds" and "Remembrance" delve into Arabic-tinged regions. These exotic numbers are powerful both because of their dense instrumentation and as a result of Lisa's "echos of the ancients" style of singing.

The Kristy Thirsk companion pieces "Wisdom" and "'Till the End of Time" are both intriguing numbers. The mesmerizing melody of "Wisdom" is almost lullaby-ish and bittersweet. The light piano accompaniment and bouncing eclectic synths combine perfectly with Kristy's vocals. "'Till the End of Time" begins with a truly unusual single tribal vocal sample that sounds almost Asian. Delerium cleverly lifts the driving drum track from the Tori Amos hit "Caught a Light Sneeze." In this song, Kristy maintains her voice in a hushed, almost spoken manner during the verses, but then makes full use of her high-end range as the song enters the chorus section.

With Karma, Delerium have created a singularly fascinating album that is both emotionally and sonically enlightening. From start to finish, each track invites the listener to open his or her imagination and journey into strange and wonderful places. Superb.--Justin Elswick

Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. Worth a transAtlantic journey, this one is a must listen!

 
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