Laurel MacDonald

Luscinia's Lullaby

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Laurel MacDonald creates Celtic-tinged song structures that are haunting, ethereal, and extremely soothing to the senses, fitting somewhere between an early Sarah McLachlan and Enya. A perfect example of this is the quite deliberate but engaging opener, "Nenia Sirenes," which she simply sings and harmonizes on without using words. With voices fading in and out, and some building atop each other, it is a very lovely intro. It might not whet everyone's appetite, but the flow is impeccable for such an attempt. Fans of the work of Lisa Gerrard or Mary Jane Lamond would lap this album up, as "Ysaiophony" has more of an Enigma format, with hues of a Gregorian chant throughout the track. The song then moves into an ambient drum'n'bass groove, but doesn't seem to suffer as a result. The title track has an eerie feeling, immediately before going into an oddly worked "classical jazz" blueprint. The fragile nature of her vocals on this song resembles a cross between Marianne Faithfull and Roberta Flack. "Flutter" slides seamlessly into "Envelope of Many," but leaves the listener unfulfilled to some extent, as if it is one elongated piece. The highlight of the album has to be the Gaelic "Cadal Chan Fhaigh Mi." Here MacDonald is at her finest as the minimal but atmospheric arrangement evolves. Just as stellar, though, is the lullaby-like "Beauty Found Me," mixing lushness with a spine-tingling performance, while the dreary "Murmur of Pearl" could be mistaken for Clannad. The coda, "Sirenaria," takes on a world music feel, and it perhaps the most melodic of the lot. Luscinia's Lullaby is a collection that shows MacDonald's wide and wonderfully eclectic range.

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