The more artistically successful concept albums are the ones in which the songs are relevant to the overall theme but can also stand on their own. Sleeping Beauty Wakes is such a concept album. This 2008/2009 recording is GrooveLily's soundtrack to the theatrical production of the same name, which they unveiled in 2007. The story is a modern-day interpretation of the 17th century fairy tale Sleeping Beauty; singer/violinist Valerie Vigoda and singer/keyboardist Brendan Milburn (who wrote all of the material and are joined by drummer Gene Lewin, GrooveLily's third member) envision what the sleeping princess' life would be like if she awoke in the late 2000s. The East Coast trio integrates the subject of sleep disorders, and the results are fun, artsy, intriguing, and somewhat cute--although Sleeping Beauty Wakes, thankfully, is never too cute for its own good. Vigoda and Milburn are smart enough to keep things from becoming excessively precious, and their sense of irony is a definite advantage. The best way to experience this 68-minute CD is by listening to it from start to finish without any interruptions, but even if you isolate, say, "Trouble," "Uninvited," or "Eyes Wide Open" from the rest of the album, the songs have no problem standing on their own. They are songs that serve the album's overriding theme well but are still meaningful even if the listener approaches them as simply individual songs rather than as part of a concept album and part of a theatrical production. With Sleeping Beauty Wakes, GrooveLily indulge their theatrical side while continuing to provide the type of memorable adult alternative pop/rock that put them on the map back in the '90s.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson