Annie Haslam / Annie Haslam's Renaissance

Blessing in Disguise

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The release of this album and its predecessor, Annie Haslam's Renaissance, began the phenomenon of "dueling Renaissances" that took place in the 1990s, Michael Dunford having started his own version of the group, and the surviving members of the original line-up also claiming the name -- all astonishing for a band that seldom, if ever, charted any records in any notable way, and also unfortunate, because it diverted attention from each artist's work. Blessing in Disguise is one of Haslam's most engaging and accessible records -- all of it is on the arty, romantic side of pop/rock, in a similar vein to Renaissance, but it's also distinctly different, in that the singer sacrifices some of her voice's crystalline purity and a little bit of her range in favor of a warmer, more expressive sound. Haslam also co-authored much of the material here, which may account for the slightly higher degree of emotional expressiveness on the album, although two of her three very best performances are on songs that she didn't co-write, "Love Lies, Love Dies" (co-written by Betty Newsinger [nee Betty Thatcher] and her ex-Renaissance bandmate Michael Dunford) and Ezra Mohawk's and Alan Chapman's "Can't Turn the Light Off"; the third, "Whisper From Marseilles (For Julien)," is a musical/dramatic tour de force for the singer. Little here is far off from the standard set by those three jewels, however, and the whole album marks a definite advancement from Haslam's earlier work -- instead of "Renaissance-lite," it's a solid and weighty solo achievement.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:27
2 4:14
3 5:41
4 3:26
5 4:04
6 3:23
7 3:50
8 3:42
9 4:59
10 4:07
11 3:33
12 5:33
13 4:46
14 4:57
15 4:46
16 4:43
blue highlight denotes track pick