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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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Fade CD Cover
Image © Richard Maxwell 2005  

(25 September 2005) Michele and Richard Maxwell comprise the duo, Michele, and have released their debut album, Fade. Their music is a blend of amazing vocals, wonderful guitar textures and hot drum and percussion grooves. They have a terrific pop/rock sound with melodious acoustic instrumentals. Four of the tracks were co-authored by Michele and Richard, and all the others were written by Richard with additional vocal melodies by Michele.

The album has a fresh, vital sound featuring Michele's dynamic vocals. Guitars, drums and programming was done by Richard, with additional guitar solo on "Be The One" by John Kaizer, and piano on "Blue Sky" and "Keep Falling" by Michele. Their expansive talents are certainly evident throughout this mellow album.

"I don't always write to express myself, but to express what others might feel," says Michele. "Ultimately, I think we are really creating atmospheres," Richard continues. "That's why I usually think in terms of layers, rather than riffs. The songs sort of sweep you away on a ride. I don’t know that we tell stories very often; it’s more about recreating a specific moment. Many times it’s recreating the feelings you might have in that instant of realization of something in your life: love, loss, whatever."

Both Michele and Richard met some years ago, but it took a while for the two to start their collaboration and develop into the duo, Michele. "There was a bit of trial and error in the studio at first," says Richard, “and certainly it took some time to refine things, but still, it was pretty obvious right away that that there was something special happening."

There is a simple clarity to Michele's soaring vocals. "She's amazing," says Richard. "I am continually blown away by her voice; by her sense of melody; by her stage presence. She sings with a kind of ease that is just incredible. There’s no strain. Ever. Even when others would have to really push to make it work, she makes it seem so easy. She might be a little timid with people one-on-one, but, man, when she’s performing, she lights up the place. You can always tell when she’s in the room, even if she doesn't say a word."

The pair is strongly committed to music education in the schools and have been involved in that area for a long time. In proving their commitment to music education, for every CD sold from their website, $3 will go to VH-1's "Save The Music" foundation. They feel that people need to support the music programs in their local schools and validate the efforts of young musicians by giving them an audience.

The twelve tracks on Fade each have a fresh quality which are full of life. Michele's positive energy comes through with a certain punch in their acoustic/rock sequences. Their combined talents have resulted in a delightful album with heavenly vocals and splendid instrumental work. Indeed, this duo is surely one to watch for in the future.--Audrey Elliot in New York

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