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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Artist: Annie Moses Band
Label: Man Alive Records
Time: 14 Tracks / 57:53 min.
What do you get when you have several Julliard trained string musicians in one family, parents that do a professional job of thinking up and laying down keys and vocal tracks, and younger siblings that are experienced on several instruments as well-all with a heart for God? You get the Annie Moses Band, named for their great-grandmother. The Annie Moses Band is led by the oldest daughter, Annie Wolaver on vocals and lead violin, but joined by siblings Alex on viola, Benjamin on cello, Camille on harp and keyboards, Gretchen on violin and mandolin, Benjamin on classical guitar and banjo joined by Dad, Bill Wolaver on keyboards, and mother Robin on vocals. Who says genes don't have anything to do with talent? There are a few non-Wolavers in the band: Peter Bales lays down the bass, while J. Javier Santiago helps out with percussion and drums.
The whole album is available as high quality streaming audio for you high speed bandwidth types. It starts playing as soon as you load www.anniemosesband.com.
So, how does it sound, those of you may be asking without the high-speed access?
Well, that's hard to nail down. There's some funky gospel songs like "Keep the Change," where father Bill makes the B3 sing (an internet search finds that Bill is an accomplished and published arranger for Word Music), traditional bluegrass in "Turkey Blossom Medley," MOR CCM with '"over of My Soul," Celtic sounding Olympics Theme Music/John Williams type stuff with "Soli Deo Gloria," etc.
As a result, for those looking for a narrow sound style (not that there is anything wrong with that), this album will be a frustration to you. The only common sounds to the album are the aforementioned strings and the lead vocals of Annie Wolaver. The best description that comes to mind for Annie's voice is a controlled Kate Bush. Annie has the trill-like vibrato of Kate Bush, but with a more rich, less breathy tone than Kate Bush. With more years, the trill may become slower, allowing more comparisons to other artists. But quick vibratos like Annie's are fairly rare and makes comparisons hard to come by. Whether this unique vocal quality will be a help or a hindrance to the popularity of the Annie Moses Band remains to be seen. It could help to separate the Annie Moses Band from the pack in listener's minds, or they may find that it's unique quality is distracting.
There are absolutely no complaints about the quality of the production of this CD. It is very well written, arranged, engineered, mixed and mastered album. Very few independent releases have the professional sheen that this release has. Not too many independent releases by Christian artists get mastered at the Hit Factory (we will miss it-closed it's doors in February '05), but this release has that going for it as well in addition to the musical talent of the band members.
A slight criticism for the CD may be that it spreads itself too wide from a musical genre perspective. This certainly showcases their flexibility in styles, but there are few artists that become massively popular with such a wide variety in styles on one compilation. In future releases, it may make sense for the Annie Moses Band to focus on a particular style and stretch out that style to it's corners on one CD.
Scott Lake 8/17/05