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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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Beautiful Red
Image © 2000 Astrid van der Veen

Astrid van der Veen
Astrid van der Veen
Image © 2001 Transmission Records

(29 July 2001) The debut album by Dutch recording artistAstrid van der Veen entitled Beautiful Red (2000) is comprised of fifteen tracks written and arranged by the artist when she was only 14 years old. Musical Discoveries' visitors should be well-acquainted with Astrid from our interview with the artist and a review of her collaboration work with Arjen Anthony Lucassen on Ambeon's Fate of a Dreamer(review) and Ayreonauts Only(review). The material from Beautiful Red precedes both of these projects andled Lucassen to work with Astrid on the Ambeon project.

A fantastic introduction to Astrid van der Veen's vocal prowess,the tracks on Beautiful Red are predominantly ballads sungwith tremendous emotion and accompanied by simple piano arrangements.Already acclaimed by the music press, Astrid has regularly been compared to both Tori Amos and Kate Bush and it is easy to recognise the similarity to both of these artist's early work in Astrid's vocal delivery. Her classical training, power and range are immediately evident in the album's title track where vocals soar almost to the point of distortion.

The sweetness in Astrid's voice is evident in the vast numberof love songs found on the album. How such a young artist cancreate such sensitive lyrics drawing on life long experiences amazed the editorial staff at Musical Discoveries' headquarters. An occasional multi-track adds depth and texture to several ofthe numbers but the album is primarily comprised of solo vocalexcursionss exploring the artist's range accompanied by stark piano arrangements.

Astrid's soaring vocals are perfectly offset by harpsichord-style keyboards in "Reborn," one of the album's standouts. "Carosel" isa happier song, evidenced by the prominence of the piano melodyin and multi-tracked vocals in the arrangement. "Soulmaster" isincredibly melodic, with lusher vocal arrangements blending perfectlywith the piano accompaniment.

A significantly contrasting upbeat and pop-style track entitled "I Guess" is more richly arranged with keyboards and drum machine rounding out the sound. Astrid's range is tremendous; the chorus has a real hook and multi-tracked vocals contribute significantly to the overall accessibility of the song. The heartfelt "So Much More," evocative "Open Hearted" and sensitive warmly delivered "Yours" that closes the album further illustrate the incredible power and range of this stunning vocalist.

The compact disc is currently pressed on CD-R and is accompaniedby artwork designed by Astrid's sister Linda. It is presently not commercially available through regular online retailers. Butinterested visitors can obtain the album directly from the artistand contact her by visiting her website. Certainlyworth a journey, this debut from Astrid van der Veen should besought out as it is a must listen!

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