Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Coventus, The Eye Of The Heart - Norine Braun - New Release Review - Ellis James, guest writer

I just received the newest release,Coventus, The Eye Of The Heart, from Norine Braun. The opening track, Lightning Strikes Twice displays an nterplay between smooth guitar, keyboard and wonderfully comforting and well trained voice elicit memories and best relaxing elements of “It’s a Beautiful Day”, Brian Auger with restrained hints of Santana and touches of techno-digital drumming courtesy of Adam Popowitz result in a what I’d call background for the perfect love affair. On How Would We Know, a reggae beat mixed with an almost Smooth Jazz guitar foundation provide foundation for Braun’s voice and fun lyrics. Playful change-up in the pace makes this tune more fun than cruising in a convertible on an ideal first day of Spring. Dizzy is a pleasant up-tempo tune. What strikes me is that Ms. Braun’s voice is a comforting treat to the ear. This listener was naturally relaxed yet not bored while listening to this set of songs. Just as the listener can pigeon-hole the genre of this collection into a “Smooth Jazz” ready for airplay box, Nadine B throws us off balance with a Blondie/‘Rapture’-esque playful rap at the break and snaps us back into active listening mode. Well structured- nicely executed but happily left me off-balance if not… Dizzy. On No More Reprise Harmonica by Huggybear Leonard and Elliot Polsky percussion, basic electric guitar hooks bring out the Bluesy Rock in this set. Sexy and intentional vocals remind us why we came, make us want to stick around as the lyrics tell us that we are being kicked to the curb and need new place to live. Killer guitar feature at the break punctuates the drive and sassy of this soulful cut. This one makes me want to hit the repeat and listen to it again in total conflict with the song’s title. Boy is musings concerning the unique relationship between Mothers and Sons over a soaring electric guitar and vocals. Nice enough lyrics yet I’d love to hear another verse or a destination to the intended thoughts. A present that’s missing the bow. Today shows nice drum rhythm and acoustic guitar kicking off the layering of great harp playing, lead electric (guitar) fills and flute. The vocals in “Boy” and “Today” evoke punctuations of restrained early Grace Slick in pitch, tone, attitude and delivery. “Today” is more of a declarative statement of the singer’s intentions and direction in life. Listened to during several sittings this set of songs give a feel of a subtle Nuevo-Psychedelic San Francisco genre. Braun and company may be on to something! 99% is back to the grungy Blues vibe shooting and hits the wider target with a moody tale fit for a future Quentin Tarantino drama. This is the bow that I was looking for. This cut is as lyrically tight as the others in this set yet more successfully paints a mental image while matching the mood of the instrumental performances. Processed vocals, with the Shirley Massey “Garbage” feel, is pushed along with tasty keyboards by Alice Fraser, dirty Bass, fine drumming and Huggybear’s wonderfully nasty harmonica. This one is a keeper! Take the Sleek Train shows nicely crafted songwriting and musicianship carrying the train on this trip. Fire Flames kindles the playful dancing and fleeting spirituality of David LaFlamme. No bad pun intended the style and pace of this piece again brings out the lighter hippy vibe. Nicely done. Braun’s vocal range more comfortably fits and enhances the score. The Perfect Love Affair, a happy tune is uplifting showcase for deserving interplay between drum kit, jazzy electric guitar and Braun’s lovely voice. Again, the keyboard fills are tasteful and well placed. A musical braid between drum, keys, voice and guitar provide reason for this song’s title. Did I mention the nice drumming? I Found You brings harmonious female duet with acoustic strumming and processed electric accent reassuring and loving lyrics. Short and sweet yet meant for always. On Conventus a playful introduction leads to an unexpected change-up which leads into a pop tune fitting for a Euro-dance club. This song is a stylistic departure from the rest of the set list but is fun and enjoyable.

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