November 18, 2019

Login to your account

Username *
Password *
Remember Me

Create an account

Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required.
Name *
Username *
Password *
Verify password *
Email *
Verify email *
Captcha *
Reload Captcha
Jean Claude Vancell

Jean Claude Vancell

Remember those 80 guitarists on one stage last year? Awesome music from the greats like The Beatles, Smokie and The Tramps? Yes, Strummin' is back and preparations for this year's edition have begun! 

Last year Strummin' raised €5,000 which was donated to Hospice Malta — a voluntary, non-profit organisation with a team of 30 people providing palliative care and support to cancer patients and their families. With an ever-increasing case load, and the expansion of the services they offer, this donation is welcome by the Hospice Malta as they celebrate their 25th anniversary this year.

The event in 2013 was supported by Voices Foundation, The Good Causes Fund, Malta International Airport, Studio 7, MCAST and The Sound System. An annual event in the ZHN calendar, 2014 will see the concert's thirteenth edition. The concert is nowadays synonymous with the promotion of Maltese talent, while fulfilling the ideals of ZHN, in being a platform for young local talent and developing young people's potential.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdcguUJ83p4

This year's proceeds will go to Dr Klown, a local NGO dedicated to providing humour and clown doctor services at Mater Dei Hospital. Applications for anyone interested in joining Strummin’ as guitarists, singers and crew are now open. More information is available at strumminartists.com Applications may be submitted at strumminartists.com/apply

Strummin' would like to take this opportunity to invite third parties to collaborate with us as sponsors this year. Interested parties are invited to get in touch on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information. We urge you to stay tuned to escflashmalta.com even through Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news from the local music industry.

Source: Press Release

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uyt2jvYqBLY

Saturday, 24 August 2013 16:00

Denmark: 'Only Teardrops' - An Album Review

Summer, a season which is somewhat marred by extremely warm humid days and temperatures which soar well above the average mean especially when it comes to the Mediterranean Island of Malta but nevertheless, the music scene flourishes at an exceptional rate. Projects for the winter commence whilst a number of singles are released for the pleasure of many whilst at the beach. Jean Claude Vancell, a singer/songwriter who was a semi-finalist at the Malta Song for Europe back in 2008 is also an escflashmalta.com senior editor and known for his album reviews. It has been quite a while since he took up the role but he is back with the debut album from Emmelie de Forest entitled Only Teardrops, the winning artist of the 2013 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. In recent months, he has heard studio albums by Loreen and Celine Dion with a critical eye pouring his thoughts out for the world to denote.

20 year old Emmelie brought victory to Denmark at the Eurovision Song Contest after their last victory in 2001. Her song Only Teardrops was favoured by bookies from weeks before in what was considered one of the strongest contests in recent years. Emmelie won the bid to represent her country at the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix last January and is now reigning queen of the Eurovision. Her album Only Teardrops was released just a week before her performance at the final in Malmo last May. The first studio album by Emmelie de Forest is released under the imprint, Universal Music Denmark which is the Danish subsidiary of the major record label.

Album Title: Only Teardrops

Released: 6th May (International)

The album opens with an instrumental overture of Only Teardrops which works a treat before introducing the more uptempo Hunter and Prey. The rest of the tracks offer a good mix of Nordic pop, which happens to suit my tastes very well. Some of the weaker offerings do sound like they were rejects from Eurovision participations which never happened. However the overall sound of the album is pleasant and easy going. With Only Teardrops appearing 3 times in this 12 track album, this makes it a little annoying, even though all versions are so beautiful in their own right. The album peaked at number 4 in Denmark, and fared well in other European countries. The song Hunter and Prey was the follow up single to her winning entry in the contest.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m__EzjJBv90

Tracks to look out for:

What Are You Waiting For - If Emmelie wants to break through the UK chart with something other than her winning Eurovision song, this has to be track to make it to the top 40. Cleverly written to suit her voice and sung with passion, this song has hit written all over it.

Change - The retro sequencer driving this track is one step away from the 80s euro-pop - but boy does it work. Hints of the Irish tin whistle which made her Eurovision song so popular are introduced in this number too.

Hunter and Prey - Had it been another vocalist, this track wouldn’t have worked so well. De Forest’s airy vocals are a wonder in this high paced number.

Final verdict:

The album shows de Forest’s potential. I wouldn’t expect this to do incredibly well if it were released by someone who hadn’t just won the Eurovision Song Contest. With more thought and time to develop her music, de Forest can take the European market by storm. It doesn’t happen everyday that you discover such a voice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RIhJ9QK740

It is quite apparent that the Eurovision Song Contest is being used as a launching platform for several artists with record labels banking on the exposure to push them to successful pastures and with countries gearing up to select their representative entries for the event taking place in Malmö, Sweden, more artists will move into the fray. Nevertheless, January is somewhat an intriguing month in which early stages of selections are set to take place with six countries having selected their entries for the competition during the month of December as 2013 was still drawing near. In the meantime, singer/songwriter Jean Claude Vancell is definitely going to be one of the key individuals during the upcoming months continuously providing you, the readers with the latest album reviews whilst also coming in as a special guest to analyze a couple of selection formats during the evenings. Following the reviews of the albums Heal and Sans Attendre by Loreen and Celine Dion respectively, another album has been carefully analysed, the one entitled Una Parte Di Me released by Amaury Vassili. What did Vancell think about it? Keep reading this post and find out.

About Amaury Vassili
 
Amaury Vassili is a French tenor, born in June 1989. He entered the music scene in 2009 with his album Vincerò, which went double platinum in France. He also had success in Canada, South Korea and South Africa. He followed his success with another album entitled Canterò, released a year after. He is now back with his latest collection of songs – Una Parte di Me. With a velvety texture to his voice, tenor Amaury Vassili returns to music stores with his newest offering: the album “Una Parte di Me”. Many of us remember this fresh-faced tenor when he competed in the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest held in Dusseldorf, flying the French flag with his entry ‘Sognu’. Numerous polls put his number in high ranks, many betting he might take the contest back to French grounds. The results on the night showed otherwise, when he placed 15th after a hair-raising performance.

Album Title: Una Parte Di Me
 
Released: 22nd October 2012 (France)
 
Vassili released this studio album under Warner Music. It features the best from the greatest classical composers such as Mozart, Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Brahms giving them a pop opera feel. Of all the songs on the album, I felt that the title track, “Una Parte di Me”, had a very awkward arrangement. The beat used left me feeling uneasy and thinking that Mozart would probably be turning in his grave just for its production. Needless to say, there is nothing wrong with Vassili’s vocal interpretation in the track. His vocals shine through, even with the unexpected rock drums. Personally, I would have preferred the tenor to have left the arrangement just as Mozart had intended, and lent his beautiful voice to it.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZkiWU8kts8
 
The tenor included two duets on the album, featuring Sofia Essaidi on I Silenzi tra Noi and Domenique Magloire on I Lago Dei Cigni. Both efforts are a pleasure to listen to. His Chiaro di Luna was a lavishly sung piece, however Debussy’s Claire de Lune (originally just a piano instrumental) is one of those pieces I would leave untouched. The vocals, in my opinion, detract from the piece’s beauty. Vassili closes the album with a French rendition of Siamo il Futuro (which he sings in Italian with a children’s choir a few tracks before). This is the only track in French – and it’s a very welcome ending. I most definitely prefer Amaury singing in his native tongue. Even though his Italian diction is very good, it lacks the open vowels that are required for the language. Nevertheless the diction does not detract from the album’s listening value.

Tracks to listen out for:
 
Siamo noi il futuro –The song builds up gradually and has wonderful orchestration. Leave out the awkward diction that the children’s choir lend to the track, and you have a beautifully laid out song. Until now I had forgotten that Vassili is a French guy singing in Italian.
 
La Guerra – Bach’s composition for cello shines through the opening of this track and lends itself very well to the song. A good mid-tempo song which I thoroughly enjoyed. Even people who would not normally enjoy opera pop would take a liking to this one.
 
I Lago Dei Cigni – If this album were a dessert trolley, this track would be the chocolate fondant. A rich instrumentation accompanies Vassili’s and Domenique Magloire’s voices on this rendition of Tchaikovsky’s classic “Swan Lake”.
 
Final Verdict
 
Hand on heart I admit I was dreading listening to an hour of pop opera, but I was wrong - this album had me hooked. Vassili, you changed my perception of the genre! The album is truly enjoyable and would recommend a listen to anyone. It might not be a opera fan’s cup of tea, since the tracks have been pop-ified (I know that word doesn't even exist!) to a large extent. I will still prefer Claire de Lune as a piano instrumental, but hey, everyone’s entitled to his opinions at the end of the day!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SU39AXEuLU

The upcoming edition of the Eurovision Song Contest is set to take place in Malmö, Sweden following the major victory set forth by track Euphoria performed by Loreen by virtue of ranking in the top position in both public and jury voting. The editorial board at escflashmalta.com is currently gearing up in anticipation for the national finals season noting that the month of December is going to be particularly busy with no less than six countries announcing their respective entries and representatives alike. In the meantime, singer/songwriter Jean Claude Vancell is definitely going to be one of the key individuals during the upcoming months continuously providing you, the readers with the latest album reviews whilst also coming in as a special guest to analyze a couple of selection formats during the evenings. In recent days, Heal by Loreen was given a thumbs up but today, we feature a different kind of review in terms of genre as the latest album by Celine Dion entitled Sans Attendre has just been released to generally positive reviews yet what does Vancell think about it? Keep reading this post and find out.

Artist: Celine Dion

Celine Dion is a French-Canadian artist from Quebec. Born in 1968, she became a teenage pop sensation in the French-speaking world. She represented Switzerland in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1988 and won. After that she decided to take on the American market, after a few years out of the limelight to improve her image and her English. Dion took the American music market by storm during most of the nineties and noughties performed sell-out shows at the Caeser’s Palace in Las Vegas. She performed five nights a week to an audience of 4,000 people at one of the most luxurious hotels in Vegas.

She grossed a total of $400 million from this concert alone (A New Day…) during a 5-year run making her one of the most successful money-making women in the world. She announced a second residency tour at the Caeser’s Palace in 2010 and is performing the three-year, seventy show a year tour, entitled Celine presently. Celine is also releases perfumes under the Celine Dion Parfums collection. She has released her 14th perfume, called Signature, last September. This generally means that such an artist has also become a prominent business women thanks to various advisers.

Album Title: Sans Attendre

Released: 2nd November (Europe)

The album production is of very high quality (I wasn't expecting anything less from Celine Dion!) and uses very little synths on the album. It’s clear that the album can be taken on tour and played exactly as is with an 8-piece band easily. This does not lessen the beauty of the musical arrangements in the album. I did find that most of the songs were mid-tempo, making the album very consistent. I don’t particularly like this, since Qui Peut Vivre Sans Amour (a more up-tempo track – emphasis on the more) stands out like a sore thumb. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6K3elwE-Mk

Musically the album has a few interesting chord changes which Dion’s vocal works around effortlessly. Every chance for the vocal to soar (Celine style) is taken, but not abused.  An army of authors took part in the album. I counted 24. Wow. The singer isn't one of them if you’re wondering. Not surprisingly, the album has no fixed theme. Dion sang three duets on this album.  One with Johnny Hallyday, another with Jean-Pierre Ferland and one with Henri Salvador. The three of the men have beautiful voices – albeit very similar, making the duets very difficult to tell apart.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9lVheR6ak4

The album was released internationally on November 2, 2012. It peaked the charts in Canada and France, reached number 2 in Switzerland (the country she represented at the ESC) and did very well in French-speaking countries. This is Dion’s 12th French album and 24th album overall. N.B. The deluxe edition included two bonus tracks (Ne Me Quitte Pas and Les Jours Comme ça) which were reviewed with the rest of the album.

Tracks to look out for:

Qui Peut Vivre Sans Amour? – The most striking refrain in the album. Dion’s strong vocals compliment the up-tempo rock feel of the song. The lyrics might sound trivial at first, but they pose some good questions once you think about them. As I previously stated, the track stands out effortlessly from the rest of the songs due it being faster-paced.

Une Chance Qu'on S'a – For the romantics out there, the lyrics are truly a beauty. This is a duet between Dion and Jean-Pierre Ferland.

Final Verdict:

I found the album very tiring to listen to, not only because it is in French, so I had to make that extra effort to understand it, but also because every track feels like the previous one. I prepared myself for Celine’s dramatic vocals, but nothing can prepare you for the roller-coaster that Dion’s vocal take on every song.

Ranting apart, the album is well-produced and well-written (I would hope so with that many song-writers). It’s good. I don’t love it. I don’t hate it. Will I listen to it again? Definitely not. Would I urge people to buy it? Yes, only if you love Celine Dion or if you understand French. If you don’t you’ll probably be weeping by mid-album – either because every song sounds sad (even if it might talk about the happiest things) or because you can’t stand Celine.  If you like Celine Dion and can understand French, then you’re in for a treat!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CN1Xw3_-_XQ

Sunday, 25 November 2012 15:00

Sweden: 'Heal' by Loreen - A Review

The dawn of a brand new year is not too far away and one of the key projects which we intend to relaunch as we brace ourselves for the upcoming edition of the Eurovision Song Contest which will surely be preceded by an intriguing season is a set of album reviews as released by artists who have already been to the Eurovision Song Contest and have continuously achieved success on home turf and surrounding countries. For this feature, we have secured the professional writing skills of singer/songwriter Jean Claude Vancell who is quite busy at the moment preparing for a number of events in the industry. Nevertheless, you will be seeing more of these articles as the weeks go by and as a matter of fact, what better way to kick off than with the collection entitled Heal which is of course, the debut album released by Loreen, this years' winner of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Artist: Loreen

Forget the flashy costumes, the over-the-top hair dos and the army of dancers. Loreen is here. As she has proven during this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, the singer does not need anything else but her own voice and a good song to take over Europe. Loreen is a 29-year-old Swedish pop singer and music producer. She started off her musical career by appearing on Swedish Idol in 2004 and placing 4th. She resurfaced in 2011 when she took part in the Swedish selection for Eurovision with My Heart is Refusing Me (a track now part of the album).

She failed to make it through the final, but returned next year with her track Euphoria, with which she won the Melodifestivalen and later the Eurovision Song Contest in Azerbaijan. She spoke out against the violation of human rights when in Azerbaijan with local political activists saying "Human rights are violated in Azerbaijan every day. One should not be silent about such things." Loreen was the winner of the Best Swedish Act at the MTV European Music Awards 2012. She was also nominated for Best European Act which she lost to Dima Bilan (The winner of the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest).

Album Title: Heal

Released: 22nd October (Europe)

Heal is published by Warner Music, Sweden, and is Loreen’s debut album. Recorded over two years (between 2010 and 2012), it showcases Loreen as an up and coming artist in the European charts after her victory for Sweden at the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. It was released as already mentioned above on the 22 October. The recurring theme throughout the album is breaking-up and finding strength in oneself. The production of the album has a heavy dance feel to it, which is currently very popular in Europe. The tracks have very intricate beats and harsh synths.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jmzs5r1flBA

The presence of an orchestra in some of the tracks in the album enhances and softens the song production in songs such as Euphoria and Sober. Loreen had a significant role as a songwriter in the album, penning tracks such as In My Head, My Heart is Refusing Me and Sober. The album has performed well in the charts reaching the top twenty in six countries and peaking at number 1 in her home country, Sweden, where it has also been certified platinum. It has been released in Sweden, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, France and Japan.

Tracks to look out for:

In my head – An amazing opening to the album. I especially love the piano solo in the track. Loreen shows a subtler vocal dynamic than in the rest of the album. I liked the gentler tone of her voice on this one.

My heart is refusing me – Loreen has participated in Melodifestivalen in 2011 with this track, which has now been reworked for the album. I really like the new remix. I am amazed how this did not do well in the competition. A real bass-thumper with a great melody line.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pfo-8z86x80

Euphoria – We've heard it endless times before. On the album the track is introduced with a beautiful arrangement for strings which contrasts well with the strong sounds in the record. Her vocal rendition is impeccable, even though I do have to admit that I enjoy her live interpretation so much more.

Crying out your name – This, in my opinion, is the stronghold of this album. Lyrically it strikes a chord with me. Overall it is a very well written song. The production is nothing short of amazing with a beat reminiscent of dub-step in the beginning.

Final Verdict:

I never expected myself to enjoy this album so much. I do not usually enjoy listening to Euro-dance but Loreen has found the right balance between pop and dance in her record. This will definitely not be leaving my iTunes playlist for a very long time. If Loreen works hard enough to promote this, we’ll keep hearing of her well into the future, something which can’t be said about all winners of Eurovision.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPt21Lq-hbY

In recent months, a new project commenced with international album reviews set to take prominence on ESCflashmalta over the next couple of months.  Securing the professional writing skills of singer/songwriter Jean Claude Vancell is surely a great step forward and we aim to bring you the most recently released albums within the industry in relation to artists within the Eurovision Song Contest. The third collection of tracks comes from one of the most enchanting Scandinavian artists to grace the stage at the largest musical event in Europe. She is none other than the Norwegian, Christine Guldbrandsen.

Artist: Christine Guldbransen

Christine Guldbrandsen is a Norwegian singer born in 1985. Various websites describe her voice as angelic and praise her expansive vocal range. She had represented Norway in Athens in the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest and placed 14th out of the 24 competing countries. She released 3 albums before releasing 'Colors'. Her debut album, Surfing in the air, sold very well and was certified Gold. Her latest effort was released in April 2011, and Christine promised fans that it would sound edgier than her previous records.

Album Title: Colors

Released: 8th April 2011 (Norway)

I had watched Christine eagerly at the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest mainly because I took a liking to Norway's song that year. So I started listening to this album with high expectations. Unfortunately, I was in for a surprising disappointment. The opening track is just interesting, nothing that makes me want more. Christine really does have an angelic voice, but I feel she doesn't deliver the emotions she sings about. As I continue to listen to the album I realise that I get less interested with each offering. The promise of Christine's amazing vocal range is hardly fulfilled - on the contrary I feel that musically, the song selection is not tailored around Christine's voice.

The lyrics on the record made me cringe... The cheese... too many tracks mention the moon and the stars. I fail to believe this woman lives in the same world I live in. Also, while the written English is good, it was very simple. Her vocals, while pitch perfect and beautifully sung, failed to deliver any deep emotion. By the seventh track I was bored out of my wits, and couldn't wait for the album to finish. Every song sounded more like the previous one. The beats on each track merely changed and remained very mid-tempo.

Tracks to look out for:

Elves Dance - this is a reinterpretation of her 2006 entry to the ESC, this time sung in English, and given a punchier pop sound. Quite frankly, it is the only track that got me interested. That's one hit out of 10 tracks... Ouch!

Final verdict:

Saying it’s not my kind of record would be an understatement. My advice, don’t waste your money. Go buy yourself some pastizzi and coffee instead. Those might trigger more emotion than these couple of songs.

In recent months, a new project commenced with international album reviews set to take prominence on ESCflashmalta over the next couple of months.  Securing the professional writing skills of singer/songwriter Jean Claude Vancell is surely a great step forward and we aim to bring you the most recently released albums within the industry in relation to artists within the Eurovision Song Contest. The third collection of tracks comes from one of the most enchanting Scandinavian artists to grace the stage at the largest musical event in Europe. She is none other than the Norwegian, Christine Guldbrandsen.

Artists: Los Angeles, The Voices II

LA The Voices II is a vocal group made up of five male singers from The Netherlands. Gordon Heuckeroth , Remko Harms , Richy Brown , Roy van den Akker and Peter William Strykes lead sing classical music, very similar in style to Il Divo. They were formed by Gordon Heuckeroth who was once part of the group The Toppers, who represented The Netherlands at the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest held in Moscow. The Toppers failed to go through to the final and later flopped in the charts, even in their country.

After watching their performance at the Eurovision on YouTube, I have to say, I am not surprised.  The LA- The Voices II project, in my opinion, is a far better try at a vocal group, and the singers certainly have talent. They were instant hits when they released their first album, and they now returned with their second album, Because We Believe, which hit stores last November.

Album Title: Because We Believe

Released: 4th November 2011 (The Netherlands)

The album is mostly sung in Dutch, with only four of the fourteen tracks being sung in English, one in French, and one which features some Italian vocals. I can’t really comment on the lyrics and diction in Dutch, since I don’t speak nor understand the language, but can comment on their English, French and Italian. Diction does suffer a little when they sing in English, however it does not deter from the listening experience. I have heard worse. When they sing in French, they sing well, with a good accent. Their Italian, however, needs work.

The record is beautifully produced, with all the music performed by an orchestra. The recordings are flawless and are easy to listen to if you’re into this kind of music. They manage to bridge pop and classical music quite effortlessly and beg you to listen out for more. They kept me entertained, even though this is not the kind of music I listen to normally.

Tracks to look out for:

You’re the Voice – this is a cover of John Farnham’s 80’s hit. The group managed to change the mood and reinterpret it very well. I really thought this worked very well.

Stand Up and Sing (It’s Christmas time) – A very sweet song with beautifully sung vocals, well written lyrics and a beautiful composition for the orchestra.

Final verdict:

Very good bridge between pop and classical music. I would define this more as a pop record, but it works quite well, mostly because there are very few vocal groups who cover this kind of genre. If I were Dutch, I’d listen to this again and again.

In recent months, a new project commenced with international album reviews set to take prominence on ESCflashmalta over the next couple of months.  Securing the professional writing skills of singer/songwriter Jean Claude Vancell is surely a great step forward and we aim to bring you the most recently released albums within the industry in relation to artists within the Eurovision Song Contest. The fifth compilation of tracks will be coming about from a beautiful artist, one who has been aiding our website in recent months hailing from Finland. Her name is Saara Aalto and she was also one of the finalists in the selection process last year actually with the song 'Blessed With Love'.

Artist: Saara Aalto

Twenty three year old Finnish singer songwriter, Saara has composed her first song when she was five years old. A pianist at heart, she continued studying and caught the public’s eye at the 2004 Finnish National selection to the Eurovision Song Contest when she was just sixteen. She moved on to take part in Finland’s Got Talent, High School Musical and the 2008, 2009 (as backing singer) and 2010 Finnish National Selections for Eurovision.

Album Title: Enkeleitä - Angels

Released: 12th December 2011 (Finland)

To start off, I have to say that this album is very well produced and features a great orchestra sound. The tracks sound like they’re coming from a huge movie soundtrack – a Christmas one, of course. The soaring vocals and intricate string sections on the record really do put you in a Christmas mood. Saara’s vocals are both delicate and powerful, striking a balance. Her dynamics are spot-on in every track.

This ten-track album features six tracks of what I can only presume is Finnish, one track in Latin and three tracks in English. Enkeleitä - Angels is not any Christmas album... don’t expect any ‘Last Christmas’ covers! It is a classical take on some beautiful seasonal songs. No large drum sounds, no synths... just magic. I have to admit some songs did transmit some melancholy, but to be fair Christmas is not a joyful time for all of us.

Tracks to look out for:

Walking in the air – This is what I refer to as the snowman song – mainly because it was used in a commercial a few years ago, featuring a flying snowman. I can only describe Saara’s take on this tune as Magic in sound. This is a popular composition, but her vocals make it extremely enchanting. The music is performed to a tee and the dynamics of the orchestra are moving.

Pie Jesu – beautifully sung latin piece. Somehow her interpretation is more contemporary. She lets her voice guide her through it effortlessly. The interpretation is not rigid – something which I find common in classical singers. Saara managed to show her versatility once more.

O Holy Night - I have to mention the beautifully played piano on this track. I can only assume Saara herself played the instrument. The score is written to be played with the utmost simplicity and finesse... very well executed! The choir introduced late in that song adds to the grandeur of this timeless Christmas classic.

Final verdict:

Two thumbs up for this album. It’s a beautifully laid down Christmas album. Saara’s interpretation is haunting in every track (yes I do mean EVERY track) and it did put me in a Christmassy mood. So prepare your egg-nog, indulge in some mince and cuddle up with your loved one in front of a fire (or if you’re in Malta, omit the fire and just cuddle up) and put on this amazing collection of tunes! Merry Christmas to all! Hope this holiday bring you all the blessings you desire!

Source: Album, Saara Aalto Official Website

Wednesday, 09 November 2011 00:25

Israel: 'All My Faces' by Mira Awad - A Review

In recent months, a new project commenced with international album reviews set to take prominence on ESCflashmalta over the next couple of months.  Securing the professional writing skills of singer/songwriter Jean Claude Vancell is surely a great step forward and we aim to bring you the most recently released albums within the industry in relation to artists within the Eurovision Song Contest. The second collection of tracks comes from an artist who does not really need to be introduced, the Israeli, Mira Awad who has most recently published this brand new collection of original tracks.

Artist: Mira Awad

Mira Awad, is an Israeli-Arab singer-songwriter and actress. She sprung to success first as an actress on an Israeli sit-com Arab Labor. She later recorded various theme songs for movies and performed in musical theatre. She was chosen to represent Israel in 2009, together with Noa, singing There Must Be Another Way landing Israel a place in the final of that year. The duo ended up placing 16th. Their participation was highly publicised mainly due to the fact that Mira was the first Arab-Israeli to represent the country in the contest, and since the Noa-Mira collaboration was an Israeli-Palestinian one. Mira and Noa were pushing political boundaries that year. They later released an album together, and were awarded the Haviva Reik Peace Prize to honour their commitment to peace and dialogue between Israelis and Arabs.

About All My Faces

Released: 28 September 2011 (Israel)

The opening track, Burka (Tomorrow), is sung both in Arab and in English. Glimpses of Arab can be heard here and there on the record, but the main language used is English. Traditional instruments are heard throughout the whole album. They are used sparingly, allowing the record to sound as western as possible, only with hints of the Mira’s Arab backdrop. The mix works very well, and Mira’s vocals are versatile enough to gel everything together. Her diction is impeccable and makes this collection of songs even more enjoyable.

The lyrics on the record are deep and give us an insight into Mira’s thoughts and ideas - they are not simply there as words to compliment music (something which I feel has become too common in contemporary music), but heartfelt emotions translated into lyrics.

Tracks to listen out for

Dream Coming True - apart from the heart-felt vocals and well written lyrics, the guitar on this track is simply beautiful. The music’s simplicity really brings out Mira’s vocals.

Stray Daughter - a very cool mix of percussions and modern vocal effects. The lyrics are simple but striking. There’s a intriguing hook in the pre-chorus of the track which makes it very memorable.

Final verdict:

Definitely not my kind of album, however I do believe it’s a very well produced record. Mira Awad is an artist through and through, and an honest one at that...she deserves to be listened to.

This marks the first of a series of international album reviews that ESCflashmalta will be undertaking over the next couple of months. Securing the professional writing skills of singer/songwriter Jean Claude Vancell is surely a great step forward and we aim to bring you the most recently released albums within the industry in relation to artists within the Eurovision Song Contest. The first collection of songs comes from Ivi Adamou, the woman who will be representing Cyprus in the upcoming edition of the European music competition taking place in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Artist: Ivi Adamou

Ivi Adamou, is a Cypriot singer signed to Sony who participated in the Greek version of The X factor. Her participation in the show caused controversy after she was voted off at the 12th week. Both the press, her mentor and representatives from Sony Music Greece (an affiliate of the show) were involved in the dispute over her sixth place ranking. She was later offered a contract by the same music power house. She is only 17, has already had a summer hit in Greece and Cyprus, and has just released her debut album, San Ena Oniro.

Album: San Ena Oniro

Released: 2011

The music on this album is very well produced. No cheesy beats, or cheap sounding synths here. This is the real deal. The tracks feature beautifully written string melodies, heavy beats and strong vocals from Ivi. She is really able to deliver emotion through her voice. Even though most of the album is in Greek (a language I can only aspire to understand), Ivi’s vocal managed to keep me interested throughout the whole ten tracks. Her voice is versatile enough to suit up-tempo songs such as The Queen (where it is heavily processed) and also mid-tempo songs such as San Ena Oniro, where we hear Ivi’s voice at its rawest.

The album delivers a modern sound – contemporary beats, crunching synths and heavy bass. The sound of real instruments is a rarity – something to be expected of a pop record. Having said that, it is not a record which tires you out while listening to it. Had it been recorded in English, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ivi would have had a broader European audience and achieved success in other countries. I found it very strange that the title track for this album was in fact a duet. The track, San Ena Oniro, is a collaboration with Giorgios Papadimitrakis, and features beautiful guitar melodies. It’s a slow paced song, with lyrics which I can only imagine to be love-related.

Tracks to look out for:

Krata Ta Matia Sou Klista – quite possibly the catchiest song of the lot. A collaboration with Melisses. The beat on this track begs you to dance to it, and has a very obvious hook to it. The vocals are sharp and blend in perfectly with the powerful electric guitars.

The Queen – The opening and only track in English on the record. Very memorable refrain thanks to the oohs and yeahs. Musically this is probably one of the most interesting tracks thanks to its unpredictablechord changes.