Marina V has a very finished voice, breathy and emotional, able to capture what she's reaching for, mature beyond her youth. The musical wavelength of Modern Fairytale is somewhat along an E.S. Posthumus vein minus the overt classicality, but there's an unfortunate overproduction combined with a rhythmic sameness that detracts from the music's full powers. A large problem is the complete absence of any counterpoint to her vocals—say, a ripping guitar lead or blown-out keyboard riff to travel back to her presence, thus providing a bit of relief from the constant concentration on vocals and lyrics. Too, the engineering doesn't balance out a good deal of the sonic information present, robbing the listener of a richness that would go far to properly matrix Marina.
A lot was attempted here, harking back to Kate Bush, Annie Haslam, Tori Amos, Sarah Brightman, and similar pop and pop-proggish work, but the side musicians seem clearly bent on carrying out the charts far more than supporting the singer. The match-ups and trade-offs are mostly cold and passionless, just recitations and not kindred fusions, leaving her always fired-up emotionalism stranded, not a compliment to a prowess deserving better. Marina V has a hellishly powerful potential and should probably be invited to participate in a musical, on stage or otherwise, under experienced hands (Jeff Wayne, A.L. Weber, etc.) in order to get the right podium under her feet.
In any event, give a listen to Babushka, sung in her native Russian, the best cut of the disc, a beautiful presentation precisely because it gives full vent to her simultaneously compelling and fragile artistry without interference, without the side music stepping all over toes. That song is what the entire CD should reflect. With a really good producer (it's rarely a good idea for musicians to produce themselves—too much self-indulgence), her next release could be a very gripping affair indeed.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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