Let me get this one out of the way right now: Erin Grace
does not exist. The whole back story surrounding this album about
it being a shelved Dave Stewart (of Eurythmics fame)
project from 1974, a runaway lead singer who, amazingly, later
turned out to be the mentor to Stewart's new ingénue, Kara
DioGuardi, all seemed to be a little too convenient when first
I read about it. It simply wasn't believable, because the script
was straight out of Hollywood. Yeah, I furthered the ruse by telling
friends and family about the seemingly star-crossed story, but
I also made sure they knew I thought it was all a bunch of bollocks.
The whole ruse has been a promotional gambit (and not a very
original one as fans of Hilary Clay Hicks' The Cosmic
Storyteller will tell you) of Stewart's that has generated
a fair amount of buzz by enlisting rock and roll heavyweights
from past and present to get in on the scam... but will listeners
ultimately care? The album, while arguably ahead of its time for
1974, is merely a decent, soft-rock album. There are, however,
artifacts contained within it that would destroy its legendary
provenance, had Dave Stewart not let the cat out of the bag already.
Namely, the music is a little too synthy/electronically enhanced
for its era. Synthesizers and drum machines may have existed in
a limited capacity back then, but not with this kind of fidelity.
Secondly, and more convincingly, after consulting with one of
Southern California's most esteemed voice coaches, Billy Purnell,
it was revealed to me that a vocal trick used by DioGuardi in
the recording of this album was a relatively recent technique
used to ease the transition between vowel sounds in the higher
notes (called "splatting" or "spreading" the
And this leads me away from the deception of the album to the
very real fact that DioGuardi is no Annie Lennox. Her vocal
technique leaves much to be desired, employing so many tricks
to cover for her weak voice that her singing is bland and flat
to the point that her enunciation (adversely) affects intelligibility.
She drops so many consonants at the end of her words you'd think
she was undergoing dental surgery while singing. The problem with
gimmicks, whether in marketing or in performance, is that they
tend to distract and detract from the substance of the album.
As a pop album, the musicianship contained herein would be outside
the fold for 1974, but the boundary-breakers of rock like Pink
Floyd, The Beatles, and The Moody Blues were
already employing some of these methods prior to 1974.
The album starts out strong with "Will You Be Around",
which has a driving bassline, crisp, acoustic strumming, and a
lively tempo, but the next four tracks lose quite a bit of that
steam before being partially revived with "If You Believe
in Love." "Love Can Kill The Blues", at five minutes,
is the longest track of the album, and takes a good three minutes
to reach the real meat of the song - a trippy, Gilmour-esque
guitar solo interleaved with DioGuardi's wavy vocals. Now, despite
my possibly unfair carping, this album is still worth a listen.
Over-hyping tends to make me overly critical, and while the faults
I've found are valid ones, I think that on the whole, they can
be mostly overlooked. However, I maintain that Dave Stewart has
shown here that he still has enough gas left in the tank that
he shouldn't be wasting his time with a singer whose ability is
not on par with his musicianship.
1. Will You Be Around
2. Lonely Eyes
4. Make Believe
5. Picture Perfect
6. If You Believe In Love
7. Love Can Kill The Blues
8. I Pray
9. Piccadilly Lane
10. Goodbye My Love
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