Music Review: Mariana Bell – Push

Hi all!

For me, all art is about introspection at some level. Whether speaking about a novel, film, or song, the artist is sharing a piece of themselves, whether it’s their view of the world, how they deal with relationships, or how they explore their innermost dreams and desires. Sometimes the art of creation itself is simply a therapy to get it all out in the open. Through every piece, we as the audience gain a piece of the puzzle that makes that creator who they are.

Mariana Bell must have been going through some serious stuff while writing the songs on her latest album – Push. From the title song to the last track, you can tell some of that introspection was going on. As she says in “On It” – “Thank you for making me see myself.” Whether seeking some inner peace or to understand relationships with those around her, she seems to be questing for answers everywhere.

But what I love about this album is that though it’s airy in places, it’s dark in others… Styles flow effortlessly from pop to folk to almost country, rock and blues, with instrumentals combined beautifully with her voice and backing tracks in rich, but not overly complex arrangements. Ten tracks on Push offer a lush landscape of unique sounds, styles, and words evoking emotions throughout. She reminds me quite a bit of Shawn Colvin, with a voice that lends itself well to this kind of cross-genre work.

My favorite song on the album is “Good Enough,” which perfectly suits my relationship with my wife… “As long as you’re good enough, and come back home to me / then we can fall in love again. / I never asked you to be perfect, no… just be good enough…” There’s an honesty there that’s impossible to ignore. Love crests and falls and compromises, but lasts through it all. With a solid drum beat and electric guitars, this song is definitely in the country-rock vein sung by contemporary artists like Lady Antebellum. And though I’m not a huge country guy, the style in this case simply works.

The same holds true for the rockin’ song “California Clay,” which keeps that honesty flowing. Love sometimes drives you to do crazy things for people, so I can identify with these lyrics… “It’s not that I can’t leave I just don’t want to… / Don’t need a leash. I’ll stay easily. I’m putty in your hand…” And the last image is sexy and sultry all at the same time – “Metal sheets and a lead pillow so are we bed magnets…” It’s that attraction between lovers. And the sound is much harder with a rock beat and underlying electric guitar that pulls it all along.

And “Titanic” made me think completely of the film with the song’s opening strings… And through analogy, this song tells the story of a relationship gone wrong. Like the movie, you can see the iceberg in the distance and yet somehow can’t change course. “Of the greatest disaster, that would ever be the greatest disaster – you and me.” Guitars, strings, and reverb help tell the story of the end.

The album may represent a single continuous flow from the fleeting beginnings of love to the bitter end of a relationship, Push shares a journey through song. I hope we hear much more from Mariana Bell and that she once again shares loves and losses with us in the future! For more about Push, her previous albums, and her tour schedule, be sure to check out her website MarianaBell.com.

–Fitz

p.s. Check out Mariana Bell’s music at Amazon below:

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Music Review: InsideOut – Dilana

Hey all…

Back in 2005 and 2006, I watched Rock Star: INXS and Rock Star: Supernova with my wife and girls. We caught every episode almost rabidly, as it was (and still is) rare to hear fresh takes on rock standards on regular television apart from the American Idol franchise. The show was hosted by Brooke Burke and Jane’s Addiction lead guitarist Dave Navarro. Both seasons of Rock Star shared a number of great new rock stars with a CBS audience.

During the second season, we were introduced to Dilana, a singer, songwriter, and performer born in Johannesberg, South Africa. She managed to escape to the Netherlands and then Los Angeles, performing in her own band alongside acts such as Joe Cocker, K’s Choice, and Heather Nova. But until she appeared on Rock Star: INXS, I have to admit we hadn’t heard of her.

With her amazing rock goddess gravelly voice she managed to rock her way into our hearts and finished second runner-up to Lukas Rossi on the show. After that we wondered what had happened to her. With her rock star attitude, songwriting skills, and killer vocals we hoped it wouldn’t be the last we’d heard of Dilana.

Fast forward to November 17, 2009… Dilana’s debut album InsideOut – produced by Dave Bassett and featuring No Doubt drummer Adrian Young and Mötley Crüe guitariist Mick Mars – has been released by Kabunk! Records. Dilana’s definitely back, belting out her own songs, proving that rock star swagger is back in a big way. The album starts off with “Holiday” and leaves us with “The Question”, but there’s NO question that she’s going to leave her mark in the world of rock-n-roll. As she says in “Holiday” – “Oh my life has changed / Like a holiday / Feels so damn good…” Hard to argue with that!

Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite rock albums of 2009. Dilana manages to not only rock out from beginning to end, but manages to do it with a variety of styles rarely seen in debut albums. You can tell she’s put the experience before and after Rock Star: INXS to good use. I found it impossible to avoid bobbing my head and dance along.

Dilana mixes and matches hard, guitar-heavy rock with rock ballads that feature that awesome set of pipes she has. Songs like “LOUD Silence” where she croons “you gotta hold on / in the LOUD silence…”, and “Ice” where she slows it down to show her sensitive side. But I think “Solid Gold” has to be my 2nd favorite track on the album (behind “Holiday”) with its drum-beat intro and amazing guitar rhythms that beat their way into your brain.

InsideOut is now among my favorite albums and will get some serious play in my collection. I hope this isn’t the last we’ve heard from Dilana. If you want a hard-rockin’ songstress with some serious pipes, look no further than Dilana. Check out her MySpace page to get a listen to some of her tracks.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up some great Rock Star music from Amazon!

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