This CD is so good that when I tell you how good, you're going to think I am on Gabrielle's payroll. Seriously. Of course, the ones who are lucky enough to have already discovered it will read and nod, for while the specifics may vary, the sentiment is one: Gabrielle is major talent as yet unrecognized. Lucky for me, though, not unrealized.
There are 11 (actually, 12) tracks on this to help make my point. Close opens the CD with mandolin and bass over synthesizer and leads into a third world rhythmic-driven rocker which, without Gabrielle's voice, could have found a place on an early Peter Gabriel solo effort. The segue into my favorite track, She Smiles, is letter-perfect and the choogle provided by hand percussion and tablas is a perfect underpinning for some fine rolling bass lines and electronic guitar, as well as primo vocals--- yes, she can sing, folks.
Neptune is an upbeat folk-rocker with a catchy melody and pop riffs and could easily be slipped into any pop radio format without missing a beat. "No Sign No Sound" slows it down a little, floating into a labyrinth of semi-folk/jazz other-worldliness that is best heard in the dark for best effect. Melina is a lighter folk tune, floating melody supported by strings (cello) beautifully. Jazz overrides I Know You Know with a light rhythm and tasty electric piano (there is nothing quite like a Rhodes at moments like this).
I See Clearly is one of those songs that Gabrielle could pull off easily as a solo at any folk club. Still, the percussive rhythm and instrumental background fit so well. Tell Me is a look within and whereas we might have heard similar songs, are there really never enough? Only a clod could ignore such a song. And it's a perfect lead-in to Whose Life, an even deeper look inside, made exceptional by a string quartet (two violins, viola and cello) toward the end. Reminiscent of Tish Hinojosa at her best.
One could only conjecture at the decision to include Time After Time, Cyndi Lauper's 1984 hit, but it works here superbly, probably because of the simple and straightforward arrangement, essentially Lauper's at a slower tempo. Nightly (sort of) caps off the side, a pretty ballad well situated for the end of the project... But, no. There is a surprise here. Bonus track time, I am guessing. No listing on the jacket, but it is a maybe 5 minute slow blues track with a Janis Joplin or Lydia Pense sense to it. Not like anything else on the CD, but a fine track, nonetheless.
There are a few more things to say about this. One is that Gabrielle's producer and programmer/percussionist, Clancy, is as important to this project as anyone. He seems to have had that innate sense of what the music was all about and performed the job of producer as it should have been. Nicholas D'Amato plays some of the best bass that I've heard in quite some time, getting a round, full sound whe needed, always with that driving sense of rhythm, though not overpowering. Julian Coryell's guitar could not have been better, always fitting in musically but always just far enough in the background that you don't realize its importance until it creeps into your consciousness.
Truth be told, I have an ongoing argument with various friends I've known since my years in the music business. They say that downloading is the death of the Music Industry. I say, maybe, but not at the expense of the music. There is more out there than ever, much as good as anything the Music Industry could produce. And I laugh. Wide makes my point. And more.
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