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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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Alive And Well CD Cover
Image © Angel Air Records 2002

Jay Aston
Image © Angel Air Records 2002

(19 April 2003) Jay Aston was a member of Bucks Fizz, the British pop group that won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1981. She left the band in 1985. Aston's debut solo album is entitled Alive And Well (Angel Air Records (UK) SJPVD137, 2002). The album's fourteen tracks are primarily written by Aston and her husband David Colquhoun (website).An eclectic collection of rock and pop tunes, it is certain to delight our visitors.

Jay atended Italia Conti school and now runs her own Theatre Arts School (website). Has a publishing contract with Chrysalis and has her own production company. She has worked with Marcella Detroit, Underworld, Melloman, Rupert Hines and Leftfield. Visit her fanclub's website for further biographical information on and photos of Jay and the other band members.

All lyrics and vocals on Alive And Well are by Jay Aston. Guitar work and production credits go to David Colquhoun almost throughout. The album was produced by Mark Smith. While much of the material has a pop flavour, there are folky, progressive and rock songs. Multi-layered harmony vocals are lushly produced and work perfectly with the instrumental arrangements. One has to question why it has been so long since we've heard from this stunning vocalist.

Alive And Well is not entirely a pop album! It's a great collection of tunes with a broad cross section of styles with some being highly accessible and others that require a good few listens to absorb to their fullest. The instrumental work is outstanding and is mixed perfectly with Jay's vast lead and harmony vocal range. The first minute of "Pigs Are on The Cake" is misleading--the twangy verses explode into a rocking chorus with rich instrumentals and evocative vocals. The accessible "Stay With Me," "Jack 'N' Jill" and "Wednesday's Child" are well-produced pop-oriented tracks very suitable for radio play. Jay's stunning lead and multi-tracked harmony vocals are accompanied by lush programmed instrumentation and very crisp percussion.

In addition to the pop textures, Jay Aston can certainly rock. "Sorrow's Wedding" is the first track to illustrate the harder edge with raunchy guitar providing the foundation for Jay's powerful and emotional lead vocal. But this style is heavily contrasted by the Miriam Stockley-styled dance oriented number "Everlasting Love." A clear album standout is the popish "Yours Truly," with its Madonna-esque opening before the gentle rocking percussion and instrumental arrangements drive the rhythm home.

About "Love, Hate & Gasoline" Jay says, "So many issues are born from love or its opposite, hate, and having had my fair share of both, they both drive you. When someone gives me a good kicking, I run faster and I defiantly get stronger." The varying tempo, powerful instrumentals and raunchy guitar changes fit the edgy vocal line. The bluesy rock structure of "Object Of Desire" is roughened up by powerful guitar riffs and a variety of vocal effects further illustrating Jay's virtuousity while "Waiting For The Day" is a bluesy track that shows another side of her talent.

The classic rocker "Rosie Banks" has allusions to Janison Edge (review) in spots. The variety continues with "Lox," a fast-paced, heavily programmed dance-oriented instrumental full of effects and unusually whispy vocals. The album concludes with the sensously sung and bluesy track "13." We especially enjoyed Jay's soaring and evocative excursions against the programmed instrumentals and crisp percussion. A dance remix of "Everlasting Love" by PERQX is provided more or less as a bonus track. Jay's vocals shimmer above the thick bass and crisp percussion of the instrumental mix.

Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. An incredible compilation by Jay Aston, this album deserves further exploration. Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, Alive And Well is a must listen!

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