Annie Haslam

Woman Transcending: Rare Recordings From Annie Haslam's Musical Journey

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The subtitle for Woman Transcending is "rare recordings from Annie Haslam's musical journey." But this really is the first true pop album Haslam has released since her masterpiece Blessing in Disguise (released under the moniker Annie Haslam's Renaissance) nearly 13 years earlier. And just how "pop" an album is it? The opening "Circular Motion" and "Parachute to You" come beautifully produced as radio-ready hit singles, complete with the hooky melodies and harmonies listeners have come to associate with Haslam. "Communication" and "Decisions" seem designed for dance mixes (with Haslam delivering powerful and peerless vocal performances). She rocks out on the infectious '80s-influenced "Shadows." Haslam even lets a little country into her oeuvre for the first time with the tear-in-your-beer-jerker "So Sad." This is so much a pop album, in fact, that Haslam actually pulls off a cover of "Somewhere Out There" (the ballad from An American Tail) and somehow manages to make it work -- with the combination of her powerhouse voice and a unique production. Don't misunderstand: Haslam still has her thing for anachronistic quirkiness (the lyrical "Hunter Trials"). But after starting the decade with the ethereal The Dawn of Ananda and It Snows in Heaven Too and the musical theatricality of One Enchanted Evening, it is great to see Haslam playing back in the pop field -- of great albums like Blessing in Disguise and Still Life. Of course, airplay has been the one thing that's eluded Haslam for the past 35 years (including her time with Renaissance), so one doesn't blame her for not making great pop albums like this more often. Which is a shame -- because her peers, Sarah Brightman and Charlotte Church, have been increasingly making classy orchestral pop/rock records to great success. (Haslam even recalls Brightman on the gorgeous "My Eternal Love.") One wishes that Woman Transcending didn't represent the "rare recordings" and that Annie Haslam would visit this arena much more frequently in her musical journeys.

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