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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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Head 2 Head and Fabulous CD Cover
Image © Toll Records 2002

More Rachel & Common Ground
A Blonde Moment (2001)
Rachel Common Ground (1998)

(22 December 2002) The latest recording from Rachel & Common Ground is a nine-track album entitled Head 2 Head and Fabulous (Toll Records (UK) 009, 2002). As with earlier recordings by the group as well as Rachel's collaboration with Oliver Wakeman (review), her crystalline vocals are mixed well above the instrumental arrangements. The group have received critical acclaim for their recordings and live performances, especially by the Classic Rock Society. Rachel's success, initially found winning International Pan Celtic Song Competition, is certain to continue.

Rachel provides lead and backing vocals, folk harp and guitar. She is supported by Tery Wallwork (guitars, harmony vocals), Chris Lobb (bass, harmony vocals), Richard Penrose (piano, keyboard) and Pip Harbon (drums, percussion). The album was recorded at Goodmerry Farm Studios in Cornwall.

Head 2 Head and Fabulous is a more dynamic and rock-oriented album than the group's earlier recordings. It opens with the rousing number "Time To Kill" and then transitions into a lovely version of D. MacLean's "Ready For The Storm" with vocal layers to kill for. The evocatively sung "Mice & Men" blends rock sensibility with folk- and latin-styled elements; rich piano, electric and acoustic instrumentation--including harp--perfectly suport Rachel's lead vocal. Lush keyboards and lovely vocal harmonies emerge in "Down To You," a lovely and catchy mid-tempo tune. Listeners will adore the way Rachel's vocals soar above the arrangements.

"Weather Report" is the first of two longer-length and more electronic-style tracks on the album. Funky electric guitar, bass and keyboards underscore a jazzier vocal arrangement, with lush harmony layers adding texture in the choruses. The sensitively sung "Summer Sent To You" is a catchy folk-rock love song whose instrumentation blends gently played harp with electronic arrangements, crisp percussion and lush vocal layers in the choruses. The instrumental buildup is perfect. Clearly it is one of the album's standout tracks.

The pace is reduced and lush keyboards, harp and further strings dominate the arrangements in "Beginners Guide To Love." The band's jazzier and rockier edges are combined in the lovely tune "Au Revoir." In addition to the robust instrumental excursions, including a vast guitar solo, Rachel's vocals are doubled up in spots to give the impression of a lead and backing vocalist. The rocker "Gypsy" concludes the album. All the band members contribute to the vocal harmonies and lush keyboard guitar-based instrumentals dominate the arrangement. The solos are tremendous--this must be another great track to see performed live.

Rachel & Common Ground's recordings are available from the band's website. Click on the album cover to point your browser there now. Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, Head 2 Head and Fabulous is a must listen!

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