Chris Alan &
Stefan des Lauriers,
Carousel Wind
(Music Kingdom, 2005)

Chris Alan and Stefan des Lauriers worked with Ken Whitely to produce Carousel Wind. Des Lauriers wrote the songs, sings lead on the last song and plays the harmonica. Alan plays piano and provides the rest of the lead vocals; his delivery is a large part of why all of the songs feel like they come from musicals. Ken Whitely pitches in on 20 different instruments, as well as producing the CD.

Alan's strong, clear vocals soar over the piano in "Carousel Wind," with those two elements clearly defining the sound of the song. The gentle pacing of "Sweeping the Fog Away" lets the images from the words slowly fade.

The perspective changes and a different part of the story is told in "Handful of Stars." It is odd hearing a musical number with some of the trappings of a rock ballad, but that is what you get in "Beyond Our Galaxy."

There is a distinct lack of subtlety in "Walls," and while the message might be challenging it covers a wide swath. The message becomes more focused in "Ball of White & Blue," and the song as a whole is quieter then the one preceding it. There is just enough sincerity in "Imaginary Mountain" to prevent the lyrics from taking the song over the top. The images of "Golden Footprints" are beautiful and echo other works.

"Tiger Swallowtail" focuses on the beauty of creation and starts to bring the religious themes out more directly. They continue in "Masterpiece of Heart," which contains a parable in the lyrics. Another parable lies in "Messenger's Lament" as it ends on a question that builds upon the prior two songs. From this triad they go to "Fill the World with Song," which touches on the creative process and some of the reasons to write.

There is a distinct '60s feel to the music and lyrics of "Sunflowers," and it is more pro-love than anti-war. The first part of "Blue Whale Blues" is a quirky look at love and loneliness that is brought round at the end. The upbeat music underscores the unabashedly patriotic content of "A Miracle America."

The spoken-sung styling of des Lauriers' vocals is a sudden change. "One Too Many Rungs" is laced with puns, but being a mostly spoken story with musical backing, it doesn't quite feel like it fits with the rest of the album.

If you like the solo numbers from musicals, Carousel Wing will give you plenty of what you like. The sense that they are musical numbers is driven largely by Alan's vocals, but as good as they are, the CD is long enough that it is not one I would play repeatedly back to back.

by Paul de Bruijn
9 September 2006

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