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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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Until Now CD Cover
Image ¬© Monasera Records 2005  

(25 October 2005) Taiwan-born Tima Montemayor has released her debut album, Until Now (Monasera Records (USA) 8-2415-88811-2 6, 2005), which reflects her diverse musical and cultural influences. This fourteen track CD is a conglomeration of rock, jazz, world and classical song styling. All but four of the songs were written by Tima and Rick McComas on this lovely, eclectic CD.

This singer/songwriter grew up in Taiwan, studying piano and Chinese opera. She dreamed of becoming a singer before her family immigrated to the US. She had many obstacles to overcome when she arrived in her new country, and eventually she developed her love of writing while exploring the southern California beaches. Tima spent many long hours listening to rock and roll music while writing down her thought, feelings, dreams, memories and desires. She didn't really recognize her musical destiny for quite some time.

Tima became successful in the business world, working in advertising and design, investing in real estate, and running her own business. She eventually made a decision to follow her musical desires while caring for her dying father-in-law, who was an old time drummer and singer. He was no longer able to sing and tap out music and watching his struggle affected Tima. His strong desire to play music when was unable to made her feel ashamed that she was not doing anything with music when she had all of this unutilized energy.

She gave up her career, her business, her houses and security to pursue her dream of music. She returned to working on her music and writing. An excerpt from her journal says, "One last glance at the 'American Dream' life that I had so methodically planned for myself, …Without hesitation, I close that door and open a new chapter in my life. So quiet my voice, until now."

Tima has a gentle approach to her music, with touching and evocative lyrics. There is a melancholic edge to her songs as she takes the listener on an emotional journey through failed relationships, regret, betrayal, hope and regaining faith. She incorporates mellow instrumentals that include piano, guitar, drums as well as some African, Indonesian and Indian percussion. She fuses many sounds together throughout her album with varied rhythms and textures.

The CD opens with "Steps Away" which introduces the listener to her unique blend of sounds, with the hint of an Asian influence. "Raining" is a moving pop song with a memorable, catchy chorus. The mystique continues with the moving ballad, "All I Need." Tima has an ethereal sound that intertwines with her stirring, emotive vocals. The gentle percussion in "How Long" has a hypnotic beat while "Empty Spaces" has a lovely Spanish influence. Her vocals seem a bit restrained at times and tend to become slightly buried under the instrumentals.

"Do Ya" and "Sincerely Yours" continue with similar sounds. She has a subdued passion in her singing, allowing the listener to become mesmerized by her softness of tone. Tima sings effortlessly in "You Forgot the Girl" about heartbreak. The sorrowful title track, "Until Now," is a very introspective type of song, where she wears her heart on her sleeve. She brings forth heartfelt emotion throughout this melody.

The calm tones in "What Do I Have to Do" are soothing with its jazzy beat. You can feel the coffeehouse atmosphere throughout many of these tunes. The piano intro to "Like an Angel" has a compelling sound that draws you in to the genuine lyrics. The song has a hauntingly beautiful aura. The relaxed and rhythmic beat of "Tempt Me" is spellbinding while "This Dance" has a slow and tender moodiness to its melody. The beat picks up in the final track, "Can't Let Go." There is a beautiful, mystical feel to this last song that opens up to some soaring vocals that showcase her unique talents.

It seems that Tima's drive and determination will take her quite far in her musical career, or rather, her musical passion. This passion certainly comes through in her music, evoking an intensity of sound and deep emotions. She has certainly made an wonderful start in the music world with her debut album, and it will be interesting to see her progression as she matures musically.--Audrey Elliot in New York

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