Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hilary McRae - Through These Walls (2008)

Hilary McRae is the first new artist signed by Hear Music, the label affiliated with Starbucks, the giant coffee shop chain. The piano playing composer won a scholarship from the Berklee School of Music so we know this quite attractive 21 year old must have an abundance of talent. She also appears to have an affection for one of my favorite bands from the 70s, the famous horn band, Chicago.

McRae's debut CD, Through These Walls became a surprise hit. It peaked at # 17 on Billboard Magazine's Heatseekers chart and #22 on the magazine's Hot Adult Contemporary chart.

Charlie Callelo, who in the 70s worked with both Blood, Sweat, & Tears and Bruce Springsteen while at Columbia Records, did the arrangements.

Considering all of the above I assumed I would like this CD more than I do but, unfortunately, I don't. It also appears that I am in the minority. The main reason I can only marginally recommend this popular disc is because it was recorded too loudly. I know Through These Walls is rock 'n roll so I don't expect the record to be quiet. Even so, the producers have pushed the volume of everything beyond the point of reason. McRae's alto voice is too loud, as are the guitars, keyboards, and drums. Collectively they nearly bury the horn section that everyone is so happy to have on board.

McRae also needs to sharpen up her lyrics. If she can't find someone like Bernie Taupin to write for her she needs to at least hire a lyricist who can tweak her songs. For example "Love Song For You" contains the line "I don't care what they say, I love you anyway." The line isn't worthy of somebody with a Berklee degree.

"Every Day (When Will You Be Mine)," the very bouncy and boisterous opener, is a quality track, as are "Why Can't Now" and a few others, but overall I was expecting more.

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