Friday, November 16, 2012

CD Review: Elisa Brown's 'New World'

Elisa Brown
New World

Soprano singer, Elisa Brown, produces a diverse array of classically-inspired songs with various jazz, rock, folk, Celtic, and new age elements in a world beat stew.  The international vocal arrangements reflect Scandinavian, Middle Eastern, Asian, and Indian cultural subtexts with varied vocals from various international sources.  The varied instrumentation and classical music base is characteristic throughout.  Eleven songs reflect a world music presence that is encompassing, engaging, and full of rich sonic textures. “Invocation” opens with blissful trickles of crystalline and metallic sounds and Elisa’s spoken word lines.  Mid-song, a single vocal line is repeated, but in different languages, including French, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Russian, Korean, Hindi, Hebrew, and English.  There are very little instrumental additions.  The entire song is rather dreamy, inspirational, and thought-provoking, but the power of poetry is most evident. “Cullins of Rhum” begins with a scintillating, Scottish guitar line, weeping violin, and sweeping electronic accompaniment that creates a full sound throughout.  The melody is also Celtic-driven with soaring vocals indicative of a mature Orla Fallon.  There are even bird sounds to lighten the melody and mood mid-song.  The song is rather sweeping with giddy guitar work and sparkling vocals throughout.  Fans of Scottish, Celtic, or Euro-folk will find this track most fitting. “We Are So Much More” opens with a keyboard wash and a few guitar strums with narrated spoken words and an upbeat percussion set.  Elisa’s clear, soprano vocals create a beautiful Celtic Woman or Ronan Hardiman result, while the keyboard washes and dance beat suggests similarities with the instrumental efforts of Enigma.  The mix of Elisa’s clear vocals, narrated portions, and vibraphone sound effects create a magnificent result that is majestic, ear-pleasing, and memorable.  The chorus is symphonic, danceable, and rich with fluid and sonic textures. One of the last few choruses features the sound of a younger voice, which represents a wide vocal spectrum throughout the song.  This is one of the best contemporary world music tracks ever produced…bar none. “Theme for Music for Life NYC” features a jazzy, Latin-tinged percussion section, and an effervescent vocal line that is operatic in its delivery, but warm in its reception.  The sweeping violin and fiery acoustic guitar work showcase Elisa’s varied song textures and styles incorporating a more world beat sound.  The flamenco-type song is full of danceable flavors and Spanish lingo.  There is even a few electric guitar squeals near the end of the song for a slight rock presence.  Fans of Latin, Spanish, and world jazz will love this one. “Namaste Fever” is brimming with eerie violin, percussive drums, additional sound effects, and an almost continual chant of the song title throughout.  The violin picks up some speed and sound intensity, while the percussion delves into a more upbeat tempo with jingly tins, metal, and cymbals.  The sounds are interrupted with a little didgeridoo, B3, and trilling electronica.  The song contains a little Celtic ambiance with a traditionally Hindu phrase in Sanskrit.  This is ideal for the world fusion fan with a hankering for Celtically-inspired yoga dance. “Ave Maria: Mother of the Light” begins with a meandering, upbeat melody with Elisa’s operatic vocals leading the charge on the traditional song.  The Latin lyrics are sung throughout, but not for the last line.  The music is supercharged with heavenly light and bliss with sonic sounds of beauty from strings, percussion, and keyboards.  The cascade of vocal melodies and arrangements produces an orchestral and operatic affect that is very enthralling. Overall, Elisa Brown’s new work, New World, is a marked achievement in the world music, new age, and world beat genres.  Elisa’s ability to change from operatic to pop vocal patterns creates a versatile recording.  The eleven songs represent a wide range of vocal and instrumental styles that should appeal to a diverse listening audience.  The help of Grammy Award-winning producer, Barry Goldstein, adds another dimension to the album that only increases its desirability.  Ultimately, the music is what will keep listeners coming back for more.  The new world has arrived and Elisa Brown is leading the musical revolution. ~ Matthew Forss     

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