Sunday, April 12, 2009

Diane di Stasio - Vox Eterna (2009)

I'm not a fan of opera and I know in some quarters that makes me a Philistine of the highest order. However, I do enjoy some classical singers when they embrace the world of pop, especially when the results are as outstanding as the present we just received from Diane di Stasio in the form of her debut CD, Vox Eterna.

Vox Eterna, will be released through itunes on April 28, 2009 and on CD a few weeks later by Shadowland Music. These ten tracks are truly pop songs, not opera, but di Stasio's gorgeous soprano elevates them into a realm of their own. Whether her arrangements call for a bank of strings or synthesizers her vocals clearly make the results a thrilling musical experience. She is rightfully the star of her own CD.

The single and the opening track, a cover of The Moody Blues' "Nights In White Satin," lacks the pretentiousness of the original and the long, sustained high note di Stasio delivers near the end of the song is absolutely stunning.

Immediately following is the album's standout track, "Shadows." It starts out with di Stasio cooing softly over a solo piano. The song gradually builds in both intensity and volume, adding strings and electric rhythm guitars along the way, until guitarist Brennan Smiley takes it home with a rock 'n roll solo during the finale that is again highlighted by the soprano's voice soaring over the massive wall of sound the song has become.

For people who prefer Top 40 there are tracks such as "Find A Place To Breathe" and "Take Me There." Both are dominated by machines masquerading as musical instruments but, unless you are listening below the surface, you won't notice the technology because the most important and beautiful instrument on the disc, di Stasio's voice, is so melodic and graceful that the musicality of the songs shine through in spite of all the programming.

Interesting musical arrangements often back up di Stasio's vocals. "Dreams" has a string laden instrumental break reminiscent of any of the Indian and psychedelic sounds that appeared on 1967 era Beatles records. Later, I realized that it's probably not a coincidence because the credits for this song included a sitar and Abbey Road Studio's celesta and bells.

There is also a moving cover of Sting's "Fields of Gold" that rivals the original.

The sessions were produced by Grammy nominated artist and producer, Billy Smiley and di Stasio had a hand in the arrangements.

The talented singer has performed on stages all over America and Europe. She sings in eight languages including French, Italian, and Japanese.

Diane di Stasio is mostly for fans of Loreena McKennitt, Annie Haslam, and Enya with a dash of Sarah Brightman tossed in for seasoning. In their quest for airplay her record company is aiming at adult contemporary radio stations and classical crossover, non-commercial, radio stations. Let's hope that the disc receives airplay and America gets to hear this new release that will surely make my list of 2009's best CDs.

You can hear sample's of di Stasio's voice on her MySpace page.

6 comments:

  1. I totally agree with your review..I've heard some of her music, and she is amazing...such a beautiful, haunting, pure voice. Very compelling indeed.

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  2. I love the way she carries me away with her beautiful voice to a very melodic and sweet place. Very fresh and innovative yet classic to the core . Well worth the time to listen and enjoy!!!

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  3. Diane is the real deal. Her voice is uplifting & inspiring. Her music is "fresh" and well done. She leaves you wanting more. A Must Listen & A Must Buy!

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  4. There is an enchantment to the songs I've listened to. Mesmerizing and yet enigmatic. A beautiful rendition of Nights In White Satin and the power of her voice shines on the song called Fra Nuvole E Acqua. But the most interesting song I've heard thus far is the one called Dream. I thought it was going to be a remake of the old Roy Orbison song, but I was translated to another place in this song. After listening to it several times the nuances come out and the journey more defined. I don't know what you call this type of song, but the haunting quality of Diane's voice and movement of the strings make for a "magical mystery tour" for sure. This is a CD I cannot wait to own...

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  5. A great review of Diane's work. Very nice. I agree... it has great diversity and a sweeping sincerity in the sheer sound of Diane's voice. I think this one has legs to run on... I also agree with all the sentiments written above. I personally love Shores of Avalon and Nights... and I love the comment above on Dream, though I think Charlie wrote it as Dreams... Go Diane!

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  6. Great review, This sounds like it might be right down my alley, looking forward to checking it out. Just one minor point about the Moody Blues, wasn't their pretentiousness part of their charm? Do you really want to hear "Nights in White Satin" without the poem? (Breathe deep, the gathering gloom, watch lights fade from every room, etc. etc.)

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