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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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Earthbound CD Cover
Image © BMG 2002  

(18 May 2002) The fifth album from composer/producer Paul Schwartz is entitled Earthbound (BMG (USA) 01934-11605-2, 2002). The album continues to building on his signature sound and style with a sensuous blend of ambient dance grooves and sweeping orchestral grandeur. His earlier albums have all had critical acclaim and charted well. These include two operatic crossovers entitled Aria and Aria 2 (review),the instrumental Revolution (review)covering eleven Beatles classics and State Of Grace(review) which combined religious texts with modern arrangements and a collaboration with singer Lisbeth Scott.

Earthbound stylistically picks up where Schwartz'earlier releases concluded but includes ten original compositions. Again recorded and mixed at Abbey Road Studios, "a stylistic smorgasbord," the composer remarks, "all of the ideas revolve around things that happen at night." He continues, "That's a big element running through many of these songs, along with themes of loss." The title track is a poem about meeting one's Savior, but also can be interpreted as a sexy love poem, a hymn to a lover. Sweeping arrangements, the result of a 30-plus-piece orchestra led by violin virtuoso Gavyn Wright, harpist Helen Tunstall, violinist Rolf Wilson and bassist Jim Hanson, are joined with more accessible beats creating a moving musical texture.

After the success of State Of Grace, Schwartz once again turned to Los Angeles-based singer Lisbeth Scott and collaborated with her on five of the album's ten tracks. Tara MacLean performs as a guest vocalist seductively singing lead and providing sensitive harmony vocal layers(Passenger review, Silencereview)the moody and ambient title track. Schwartz is currently producing a project for an Irish act led by Emily Aylmer and Ruth Cahill, and the tandem performs lead vocals on the sweeping, ethereal film score-flavoured (Enya-like) "Nevermore." Mystical in its construction, the tune offers beautiful natural imagery in an elegy to a departed friend.

Lisbeth Scott's numbers include "Il Giaoco," "River Of Stars," "How Many Fools," and "The Dark Of The Night." The darkness-to-light Aria-style musical drama "Il Giaoco" is fashioned from a 17th century Italian opera. Her dramatic Italian vocal affirms that the game of love is worth playing, even when we lose. An album standout, "River Of Stars" blends sweeping thematic overtones with trip-hop textures and Lisbeth's seductively soaring vocals.

Schwartz describes "How Many Fools," "The dramatic shifts in the song reflect the idea of trying to distinguish shadows from real people." Lisbeth's shimmering vocals compliment synth washes and orchestral grandeur. "Ravens" is a sensuous tribute to a friend who passed away, a narrative about three dreams told from the departed perspectives through Lisbeth Scott's vocal lines.

"The Dark Of The Night" is intensely percussive and exotic with Lisbeth's sensual vocal line describing finding of love in the moonlight. Interested readers should read thereviewof Lisbeth's latest solo album Dove.

Earthbound's thematic and moody instrumentals blend classical structures with accessible arrangements. "Vol de Nuit," which opens the album contrasts the mournful elegance of "Thalaster" which conveys more of the dark night of the soul idea. The solo piece "Nocturne" brings Schwartz back eloquently to his roots as a classical pianist.

"The projects I compose and produce allow me to follow my many musical impulses, from pop music with cool grooves, to full-blown orchestral works," says Schwartz. "My task is to find a way to marry those things and find new ways to tell stories in music."Clearly he has done so on Earthbound. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.comhere.Certainly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, this lovely collection of classical-contemporary crossover material is certain to delight a broad audience and is a must listen!

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