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Generally Recognized As True: A grand September: Steven Wilson's "Grace for Drowning", Tori Amos's "Night of Hunters", and Sarah Slean's "Land & Sea"

Saturday, October 08, 2011

A grand September: Steven Wilson's "Grace for Drowning", Tori Amos's "Night of Hunters", and Sarah Slean's "Land & Sea"

There were at least three outstanding album releases in September:

"Grace for Drowning" by Steven Wilson
Enough good things can't be said about this album. Released in high resolution surround on Blu-Ray as as well as on CD, this one took some time to grow on me (I went from being iffy about it to very enthusiastic over the space of about a week of repeated listens) but is really worth the effort to get to know. The highlight is a 23-minute track that is so full of interesting sounds and textures that you can miss a good chunk of the content if you don't play it on a good sound system. Unlike many modern CDs, it preserves a good amount of dynamic range and makes good use of it. Unfortunately, it's one of those albums that, despite being the best album of the year, can be difficult to share with others because you really do need to let it sit for awhile, and I only did so because I was confident I'd come through! It doesn't demo well.

"Night of Hunters" by Tori Amos
A 400-year classical song cycle -- original songs based on classical themes over a 400-year period -- this one also took a few listens to grow on me, but will end up amongst my favourite Tori Amos albums, I'm sure. After the previous album, which was a bit over the top, going back to the piano and a light orchestral backing is a very welcome change.

"Land & Sea" by Sarah Slean
This is a two-disc set by one of my favourite Canadian artists (another favourite is her husband, Royal Wood). While the 1st CD has its moments, the 2nd CD is the best of the two, going back to vocals and the piano, with orchestral backing. In a way, the 2nd CD is of a similar nature to "Night of Hunters" but is much more mellow and less adventurous, though that isn't in any way a criticism (why would I want to have two albums that are the same?)

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