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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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Beyond The Pride
Image © 2000\r\n\r\nRed Harp Records  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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