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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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Mariette Davina - Self-Titled - CD Artwork
image © Mariette Davina 2011

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(13 March 2011) Mariette (Moseley) Davina is a rapidly emerging British classical crossover artist whose self-titled (Mariette Davina (UK), 2011) album was released in early 2011. The collection of ten extremely well-produced tracks is the artist's debut professional recording following her education and return to the United Kingdom. Outstanding guest musicians contribute instrumental arrangements that bring her songs to life. The package includes a self-pressed CD and a four page color booklet with lyrics to all of the songs. Mariette's self-titled project is an outstanding debut album.

Now based in Bristol, Mariette Davina was born in Leicester, England. She moved to South Africa at an early age and finished her schooling at the Pro Arte secondary school for gifted artists with singing and piano as her main subjects. Mariette obtained her music degree specializng in Performance Opera at the University of South Africa and her Honours degree in music at the University of Pretoria. She also obtained her Licentiate in Opera, her Advanced Certificate in singing from the Royal Schools of Music, as well as her Grade 8 in piano.

After her studies, Mariette Davina began composing her own songs and landed a recording contract with Gallo Records Africa. During this period she spent many hours in recording studios, composing and instrumentally arranging her music. Mariette's single "All I Need" was released in the compilation album Timeless 5 (Gallo Record Company (RPM) (South Africa) CDRPM1785, 2002). Mariette's first classical crossover album entitled Davina (Gallo Record Company (RPM) (South Africa) CDRPM1807, 2004) was subsequently released and nominated for the best classical album in South Africa. She also made appearances on South African television and radio to support the release.

Mariette returned to England to pursue her music in Europe. She attended three years of bible school and developed a love for worship music and discovered her gift for spontaneous worship. She says, "My Mariette Davina album reflects a culmination of all the genres I have embraced. I hope you enjoy it!"

Mariette wrote all songs and lyrics on her self-titled album. Neil Costello produced and engineered the project. The production team also included: Mark Edwards (programming and keyboards) and Patrick Horrax (string arrangements) with violins by: John Mills, Ruth Funnell, Tom Norris, Ellie Fagg; violas by: Jake Walker, Felix Tanner; and cellos were performed by: Matthew Forbes, Jonathan Kitchen. The crossover sound is a result of modern instruments including guitar by producer Neil Costello and bass by Mark Prentice. The album was recorded at ICC Studios in Eastbourne, England.

Trained in opera, Mariette's soprano vocals are crystalline and powerful. Soaring passages never completely overpower the arrangements. Instead, vocals and instrumentals complement each other perfectly. Worship themes appear on the album but equally do not overpower the listening experience. We especially appreciated the attention to the crossover sounds produced by electronic instrumentation. Evident from the electric guitar riffs in the gentle opening number"Starting Over" the crossover sound crescendos in outstanding album standout "Images Lie . Davina's powerful voice is mixed perfectly, effortlessly gliding above the arrangements.

Staccato arrangements in the stunning track "Circles of Change" provide the backdrop for equally fast-paced vocal work spanning Mariette's range. The powerful buildup within in the track reminds listeners that this is a crossover rather than West End musical or an Opera album. "Angel Song," in contrast, is operatically sung atop more stark arrangements of piano-styled keyboard and very light percussion. Although light electric guitar and additional percussion joins in the track "You Are Holy," the piece continues to build the secular theme of the project.

The accessible verse chorus track "Images Lie" blends a rousing pop-oriented electronic foundation with ethnic instruments in the mid-secton to produce the album's standout. While the entire album is superb, "Images Lie" is the crossover track that most clearly illustrates Mariette's potential. "Risk It" is the perfect follow up with powerful bass driving the multi-layered vocal arrangement forward. Mariette's soaring vocals remind the listener that this is a crossover album.

The rich strings of the torch ballad entitled "This Love" and Mariette's evocative vocal work give it a West End feel. Dense strings and keyboard provide the instrumental foundation for "Come Out Of The Rain," a mid-tempo verse-chorus patterned crossover tune. Davina's operatic vocals soar across her range atop the crisp percussion and warm string-based washes. Listen for the stunning guitar solo during the warmly arranged bridge.

Mariette returns to an operatic West End style in "Totally Free" with her crystalline lead vocal carrying the evocatively delivered gentle ballad that builds with a powerful crescendo. Piano-styled keyboards, bass and electric guitar are arranged in the mix below. With hope that Mariette will reprise quickly with a new project, the album concludes appropriately with the upbeat track "Its Not Over." Upbeat multilayered percussion, electric guitar and bass provide the crossover foundation to soaring vocal layers that bring this outstanding debut album to a close.

Mariette's album is excellent not only as a self-released project, but it can also stand up against similar projects on both indie and major labels. The production quality, rich instrumentation and outstanding vocal work are superb. Clearly an artist with a bright future, we are sure to be hearing a lot more from her in the future.

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