Lydia McCauley,
(Brimstone, 1999)

In the liner notes of this CD, which I always read before I listen to something for the first time, I was told that it was recorded at Greenhouse Studios in Vancouver "illuminated by one hundred candles." I played the CD and got very much what I expected after reading that: the music and lyrics are poetic and haunting, simple yet complex ... and I have a hard time distinguishing one song from another. This is the perfect CD for an anti-stress evening. It will lull you into a dreamlike state and allow you to release any tension in your body.

There is a medieval theme running through the songs, making me think of Lydia McCauley as a woman who has a very old soul. She plays a beautiful piano, and has chosen her supporting musicians carefully, especially Phil Heaven on viola and doumbek. She is introspective in most of the songs, and very spiritual. I found her voice strong and pleasant to listen to -- but the slow soft cadence had my eyes closing very early on.

"Preghiera Semplice," inspired by a Franciscan prayer, is more than six minutes of music and repetition of the phrase "make me an instrument of peace." It's beautiful, but just too long to have the kind of impact it could. In many of the songs, the music rather than the lyrics drives the song; but words are very important to McCauley. She quotes Saint Catherine of Sienna in her liner notes for "The Fire," but the song fails to live up to the passion of these words: "You are the fire that ever burns without being consumed...."

She turns into more of a storyteller towards the end of the record, with "Traveling Moorland," in which she sings about the musings of Alexander Carmichael, a 19th-century collector of traditional Scottish poetry, prayers and songs. She has a passion for history and music, which comes through as her voice floats with the song.

If you enjoy rooms illuminated by one hundred candles and ethereal poetry of a time long past, you'll enjoy Entrances.

[ by Rachel Jagt ]

Read a review of McCauley's earlier release, Sabbath Day's Journey.

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