Laura Turner

Soul Deep

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Curb Records expands beyond its well-known country roster with Soul Deep, the beautifully produced debut from Laura Turner, a singer whose classically trained voice is all at once operatic, dramatic, and ethereal -- truly defying typical categorization. Think Sarah Brightman's early-2000s remix hits and that gets you on the trail. The idea throughout seems to be pairing the drama of her pipes with lush, lyrical songs and productions that range from edgy trip-hop to ambient and even exotic. The most compelling of these is her own co-composition "Will of the Heart," a Celine Dion-like inspirational gem that captures her many octave range better than the other tunes, with words that don't get lost in the dramatic atmospheres and grooves. The symphonic title cut is a dramatic take on the spiritual aspects of lovemaking, featuring wordless vocals very much in the spirit of Brightman's "Phantom of the Opera" work, combined with shuffle grooves. "Illusion of a Kiss" blends Middle Eastern exotica, thick percussion, and deep cinematic images. The rest of the material ranges from a duet with Ray Vega on his Spanish-language hit "Angel de Madrugada," a dreamy take on the originally hard-rocking Creed hit "My Sacrifice," and others by Diane Warren and Desmond Child. Her vocal intensity may be too much for mainstream adult contemporary and pop, which favors lesser voices and more conventional song forms. But her talent for tugging the heart is undeniable.

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