Kristopher McDowell

Faces of Love

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    5
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Performing with all the style, grace, and whimsy of a cabaret performer, 22-year-old London expatriate Kristopher McDowell's debut albums reveals a stage presence and maturity which belies his young age. Taking on a set of decently composed songs from truly diverse composers and sources, including a couple from musicals which closed early, he lays out a palette of emotions associated with love, including discovery, upsetting, bruising, hopeful, and even fulfilling. And he does this with a voice that can best be described as pretty. With arrangements that favor the heavy production featuring strings, horns, lots of backup vocalists, and, of course, the piece of equipment of choice for this musical style, the synthesizer. One hears several influences in McDowell's delivery and approach to the music. There's the king of adult contemporary and soft rock, Barry Manilow. But there's also a tad of Johnny Mathis with the cry in the voice McDowell uses on such cuts as "Get Here." The smooth edges of the session are roughened a bit with some up-tempo, downright swinging material such as "Signs of Life" and "Train of Thought." But this is an album about love and the material stays close to the ballad style set by the first track, "The Last Time I Felt Like This," beginning softly building up to a crescendo of a coda. While there is a large cast of supporting players with McDowell, he gets the lion's share of the spotlight. Little time is set aside for solos by any of the instrumentalists. However, the contributions of Christopher Denny and Daryl Kojak are apparent on each cut. A fine debut by a young man with a winning way with a song.

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