When it comes to music, some listeners simply don't appreciate subtlety. They are the sort of beboppers who would ignore Chet Baker's singing and trumpet playing because he didn't scream to get their attention. They are the sort of rockers who would claim that Frente! (an interesting alternative pop/rock band from Australia) isn't forceful enough. And they are the sort of listeners who might claim that Tina Malia's Shores of Avalon needs to be more amplified. But anyone who thinks that is wrong; this CD is fine the way it is. Blessed with a gorgeous voice, Malia favors a very calm, pastoral style of folk-pop and draws on influences that range from Joan Baez and Judy Collins to Sarah McLachlan. Malia's music is not aggressive, forceful, or intense; she obviously values subtlety and restraint. But it is certainly substantial, and the singer/songwriter is expressive on these acoustic-oriented performances -- many of which incorporate elements of world music. The Celtic traditions of Ireland and Scotland are an influence, as are Middle Eastern and Indian music. In fact, the instruments on this impressive debut range from Indian tabla drums to the oud (a lute that has played a prominent role in traditional Arabic and North African music for centuries). Shores of Avalon is as contemplative as it is spiritual, which isn't to say that Malia is promoting a particular religion. Malia doesn't use this CD to preach Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, or Buddhism -- she isn't claiming that one religion is superior (on inferior) to another -- but many of her songs do have a mystic quality. Again, not everyone values subtlety and restraint when it comes to music, but those who do will find a lot to admire about Shores of Avalon.
Review by Alex Henderson