(31 July 2001) The self-titled release from Epiphany Project is a chilling, but emotionally compelling collection of folk/Celtic/pop melodies. Vocalist Bet Williams' sings with both clarity and power in a style quite reminiscent of Connie Dover or Laura Powers with a dash of Tori Amos's uncanny emotiveness thrown in for good measure.Be sure to stop back to check our review of Bet Williams Rose Tatoo which is planned for our next digest.
A well-practiced troubadour in the truest sense, Bet has been singing and writing songs for over a decade, travelling across the United States and performing on stage with the likes of Joan Osborne, John Gorka, and Arlo Guthrie. Johm Hodian, the other half of Epiphany Project, is a highly accomplished pianist and composer who has scored hundreds of soundtracks for film, documentaries, and dance company and theatre performances. Bet and John are joined on this recording by a wide array of musicians who contribute to the beauty and richness of each song by providing percussion, strings, and guitar to the musical tapestry.
While each song on the album has its own strengths, several tracks deserve special mention. The song "Lockerbie" commemorates the 270 people who lost their lives in the Pan Am 103 flight disaster in 1988. Suprisingly fierce in tone, "Lockerbie" evokes a mood of Celtic/tribal epic-ness that is somehow appropriate in the way that Gordon Lighfoot's "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" so masterfully recalled the sinking of the great ship. "Tubwayhun" is a rousing but haunting musical interpretation of the Beatitudes sung in Aramic. Bet's ever-present voice chimes in beautifully while John's piano flourishes propel the song forward in a lively fashion. The melancholic "To the Lighthouse" is an icy piece that features John's deeply stirring piano and Bet's lyric-less vocalisations.
Another standout track is the mesmerizing neo-classical "Goth." Here, Bet's overdubbed vocals create a basso-continuo effect over which a thrilling harmonic arrangement swirls. Listeners should also be aware that the album contains a wonderful untitled hidden track at the end of the album. Part Kate Bush, part Portishead, this closing piece features an unusual fin de siecle piano melody paired with Bet's vocals that have been treated with a unique static-like effect. Truly, a perfect finale for a superb album.
Perhaps this album's greatest strength lies in the emotional honesty with which these songs have been written and performed. While both skilled musicianship and talented songwriting may seem rare in today's world of pre-fabricated music, Epiphany Project have demonstrated that such talent still exists. Although one may have to search a little harder to find music of this caliber--the pleasure in finding such music as has been created by Epiphany Project is well-worth the effort.
You can find further information about the artists and purchasethe album at theirwebsite. Read further reviews,listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.comhere. The debut album from Epiphany Project is eclectic; with Bet Williams'stunning vocals, it is worth further exploration and a long distance journey.It is certainly a very nice listen!--Justin Elswick