Jamie Solow, |
I'm very glad Jamie Solow included a lyrics sheet with Riddles. Her lyrics are sweet and well crafted, and I never would have learned them from listening to her sing.
Riddles starts off with a captivating tinkle of piano music, a gentle strumming of guitar and then Jamie's voice, which is apparently coming from the end of a long, long, metal tunnel. It sets up an unfortunate pattern -- pretty music, fine lyrics (if you read along) and a singer you have to strain to make out. Even cranking up the vocal levels on my stereo controls only made Solow a little easier to hear. If it's a trick to make a listener pay attention to the words of the song, it backfired on me; after a few stanzas my ear got tired of reaching for every word and tuned her out. What can be heard is a high, chirping tone.
On the occasional tune, like "Passionflower," where her voice is less clear pitched and more natural, Solow has a pleasant voice with a decent range, if not much power. I'd love to hear more, but the music overwhelms her vocals again by the next song.
That music is very good, with a wide range, though all on the theme of mellow. Each song is distinct and easily recognizable, something artists of softer music often have trouble with. There's some nice work with guitar and percussion in "Come Back Home," a fine dramatic punch to "Is it Your Heart." But for this listener, the music cried out for a more authoritative leading voice. If you've always liked Judy Collins but thought she came on too strong, Jamie Solow might be your cup of tea. If you like your singers to be the star of their music and not just a bit part, you'll want to find another album.