CD: Notes From A Journey
Artist: Kristin Amarie
While many artists and musicians bring the particular flavors and influences of their native land to their art, Kristin Amarie is truly a “global citizen” and her music reflects the incredible diversity that has been her life experience. Her new album, Notes From A Journey, which features a guest appearance by David Lanz, provides the perfect vehicle for her to finally express the full range of her talent – from ethereal Enya-like incantations to lushly orchestrated compositions reminiscent of David Arkenstone, with echoes of the far corners of the world Kristin has inhabited. While she was born and brought up in Norway, her horizons were expanded when she spent her late teens on the island of Cyprus, and a good part of her adult life in New Delhi. Adding to her international adventures were periods of time spent in London, Bangkok, Malta, and France, all the time absorbing the cultural milieu she was exposed to.
Kristin’s roots in music go back to her childhood when she would sing and make up her own tunes. Sensing her potential, Kristin’s parents nurtured her budding talents by providing her with private vocal lessons from some of the best teachers in Norway and Sweden. Early influences ranged from Bach and Chopin to Disney soundtracks. This professional training in her formative years was vital and she developed the vocal skills necessary to be able to perform in a wide variety of musical contexts, including performing with various groups singing everything from Scandinavian folk songs to bossa nova in Europe, Asia and the US. More recently her musical frontiers have extended to some of the latest contemporary musical genres, such as her work with Russian ambient/chill producer Solarsoul in Moscow. Their first song, “Hope Never Dies,” made it to number 31 on the Beatport Top 100. Kristin is also currently involved with Nichan Records in Stockholm, who produce electronic dance music.
But the best is yet to come as Kristin Amarie steps into her own spotlight as a recording artist with her debut solo release, which was produced by Grammy-nominated producer Alex Salzman in NY. As mentioned, one of the highlights is a very special guest appearance by world-famous musician David Lanz, who collaborated on an original song with Kristin and adds his artistic touch on piano as well. The album opens, most appropriately, with a song called “First Light.” I say “most appropriately,” because for Kristin the song is about new beginnings and the magical circle of life, as well as all the beautiful things that surround us in this world. The title is also appropriate in that, as the track begins, Kristin’s angelic vocals accompanied by harp and ethereal synthesizer make it feel like the heavens have opened and we are enveloped in luminous beams reaching down from above. At the one-minute mark, the intro gives way to dramatic orchestration that provides a cinematic soundscape for Kristin’s voice to soar over. The sound of this orchestration is huge, almost like the London Philharmonic is behind her. It’s the kind of grandiose score you might hear from someone like Yanni, John Tesh, or the aforementioned David Arkenstone. Its powerful, yet is an interesting contrast to the lighter, more airy nature of her vocals.
The next track, “Amore Eterno,” as the title implies, is about love – eternal love. Unlike the first song, in which Kristin’s vocals were wordless, this one has lyrics, which are sung first in Italian, and later in English. The words are like something a mother would sing to her child at bedtime. This is not surprising given that on Kristin’s website, she credits the musical influence of her mother who would sing and teach her Norwegian lullabies and children’s songs. The next track, “Prayers,” further expands on Kristin’s geo-cultural background and references the time she spent living in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean region. The lyrics are from The Old Testament, Psalm 38, verses 10 and 21, but are sung here in Greek with a corresponding musical flavor in the soundtrack. Journeying farther to the East is a song called “Winter In Shimla,” a capital city in northern India. This is another track that features Kristin’s wordless vocals set to an incredibly lavish musical score that could easily work in a Bollywood movie. One of my favorite songs is an enchanting piece called “Without You,” that features David Lanz on piano. A composition entitled “Fra Beatrice,” centers on a love story dating back to Italy in the 1200’s. On this one, Kristin sings in both English and her native Norwegian. In yet another departure, a track called “Elusion,” has more of pop feel with Kristin singing in a beautiful crystal clear voice like the kind you would hear on the soundtrack to a Disney movie. Bringing the album to a conclusion, Kristin reaches back to her roots with a folksy tune called Sulla meg litt,” a Norwegian cradle song performed in a more earthy fashion than most of the rest of the album.
The range of musical and vocal styles on this album is staggering. Kristin’s voice can range from covering diverse music from around the world to otherworldly incantations. As amazing as her singing is, I also can’t say enough about the opulence of the orchestration on this recording, which is absolutely mind-blowing. Notes From A Journey sounds like the work of a seasoned recording artist with the connections to hire the finest musicians and studios – not necessarily what you would expect from a debut solo release. The level of musical talent and production quality on this album put Kristin in a class with some of the finest recording artists in the genre. But speaking of top artists in the genre, I’ll leave the last word to the maestro David Lanz, who has had the opportunity to work with Kristin and had this to say: “It is time for the world to discover this compellingly beautiful and exciting new voice! Open your hearts and ears for Kristin Amarie… a rising star!”