Frankie Hart &
the FarAway Ensemble,
(So-Na-Ni, 2000)

Hitotsu is a first CD for Frankie Hart and the FarAway Ensemble, which consists of Hart, Rayburn Blake and Andrew Meyerhoff. Hart sings both lead and backup vocals, while Blake provides guitars, keyboards and synth programming. All three contribute to song writing, though Blake and Meyerhoff together wrote most of the songs on the CD.

This is truly a global group, with Blake based in Canada and Meyerhoff in Japan. Their title comes from the latter country; "hitotsu" is Japanese for "one" or "oneness."

Hart has a pleasant, mid-range voice that is ever so slightly breathy. It sounds just a touch forced when she sings in the higher range, but this is really only noticeable if you're listening closely.

The CD has a mostly pop sound. The songs sound light, almost effervescent, with nice, singable melodies, so if you like to sing along with your CDs, this one would be easy to sing with. The only problem with the songs is that none of them are particularly memorable. The only one that really stands out is "One World Family" and that is mostly because it appears on the CD twice, as the first of twelve tracks and as the eleventh. The second time it appears, it is with the chorus sung in Japanese. And while that's certainly interesting, it's not enough to recommend the CD.

Hitotsu is a nice effort and a pleasant enough CD, but it is ultimately forgettable.

[ by Laurie Thayer ]