Rediscoveries--Annie Haslam--Still Life


Annie Haslam was the lead singer for the progressive group Renaissance (I don't know if some version of Renaissance still exists.) On the album A Turn of the Cards, they introduced the idea (or at least perfected the idea which had actually been made prominent by Procol Harum in "A White Shade of Pale") of singing lyrics to classical music that wasn't meant to be vocal. The song, "Cold is Being," was sung to the tune of Albinoni's famous Adagio.

Still Life (1985) is an album of such songs. It features songs sung to the tunes of Mendelsohn's Overture to the Hebrides (aka Fingal's Cave), St. Saen's "The Swan," Wagner's "Seigfried's Rhine Journey," and Satie's "Trois Gymnopedies No. 2." She reprises the use of Albinoni's Adagio in a song titled "Save Us All." There are other melodies that I can't so easily place--famous and immediately familiar if not leaping directly to the memory. In addition she does a treatment of "Ave Verum Corpus."

Annie's voice may require a bit of getting used to for some. I find it pure and lovely while not so ethereal as the voice of, say, Sissel or even Sonja Kristina. There is a robust quality and roundness of tone. While I'm not wild about some of the vocal choices she makes, they do tend to grow on you as you listen.

The classical melodies do tend to make for overly dramatic lyrics at times and occasionally some overly dramatic vocal choices. However, overall, it is very pleasing to hear familiar melodies with an interesting overlay of words. Annie's voice has always had a tremendous appeal for me--it is pure and clear, light and delicate, while still being robust and full bodied. It's an interesting combination.

When I first heard her solo work, I was so used to her work with Renaissance, I didn't care for it; but now, upon a relisten with years between and the memories of Renaissance not nearly so close to the surface, these are very appealing and lovely songs. It is so nice to make their reacquaintance without the patina of ingrained preconceptions.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on January 23, 2007 9:38 AM.

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