Amelia's Dream,
Love Tattoo
(Ripe & Ready, 1999)

The cover art, both front and back, for Love Tattoo from New York City band Amelia's Dream is eye-catching: a portion of a woman's torso with a pierced navel and mehndi-like tattoos, around which the band's faces peer. Certainly, it doesn't give a clue about the contents of the CD. I'll give you a head start. It's an eclectic acoustic and electronic mix featuring supple vocals and fresh sounding arrangements.

Amelia's Dream is Amelia Gewirtz, vocals, and Harold Stephan on keyboards and synthesizer programming. They get support from Ben Butler on guitar, Jon Ossman on bass and Tom Curiano on drums, as well as an assortment of guest musicians. Most of the 12 tracks on the CD were co-written by either or both Gewirtz and Stephan, with a range of results.

Gewirtz's vocal quality is remarkable, going from breathy and whispery to hard-edged to ebullient. Her cover of "Evil Ways" is perfectly pouty, full of wide-eyed sex-kitten innocence. In a marked contrast, her voice takes an edge on "Garden," a song which encourages women to avoid relationships with users and counsels them with pop psychology: "You have got to plant your own garden / Don't wait for someone else to bring you flowers." In yet another contrast, her voice goes from honey rich depth to delicate fluting on "Honey Dream."

The opening track, "Footprints," is about an identity quest, and the emotions and frustrations conveyed are authentic as the narrator struggles to separate who she is from her parents. Several of the songs are about falling in love with a dream guy: "Fire In My Heart (Re-Mix)," an exuberant song with an appealing and alluring beat that captures that just-in-love giddiness, "Hey You," about how love happens when you're making other plans, sung with a wry touch, and "I'm Here" which is from where the CD title is drawn. All have terrific musical arrangements, complex and balanced, but the lyrics are perhaps a little weak, particularly in "I'm Here." I don't find lines like "Now that I'm your girl, it's a cakewalk world" particularly appealing.

Other lyrics are more successful; "The Aisle With You" sums up pre-wedding insanity pretty well, while getting to the heart of the issue, and "Push the Button" is for anyone who has dated someone with Issues from the Past. "Trust Your Gut" manages to make the word "gut" ethereal, thanks in particular to Gewirtz's bell-like interpretation, and finally, "Magician" is one of those songs which speaks to everyone -- we all have a friend like the one described here -- or maybe we're the friend.

The CD is enhanced; if you slip it into your CD-ROM drive, you get information about the band (much of which is on their website) and you can see a documentary video about making Love Tattoo (which is not on the website).

The harmonies are smooth and clear, and overall, the CD has a cohesive and clean sound. The musical style is heavily on the pop and dancebeat side, but those with a taste for the genre will find Love Tattoo to be Amelia's Dream come true.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]

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