David Arkenstone and Charlee Brooks
2013 / QDV Recordings
Review by Kathy Parsons
Loveren is the latest epic musical adventure from composer/ storyteller/ multi-instrumentalist David Arkenstone in collaboration with vocalist Charlee Brooks, who also engineered the recording and plays guitar, kalimba, and zils. But that voice - that voice! Clear, pure, and extraordinarily expressive, Brooks sings most of the lyrics in a mermaid language she created called Mermish. The tale of Loveren comes from an original story by Steven Vlasak. The title character is a young mermaid who defies her parents one night and swims to Lumaria, an enchanted city some distance from her home. She meets a handsome merman named Kayan and they fall in love. Loveren returns home early each morning before her parents awaken and then swims back to Lumaria each night to be with Kayan. Over time, exhaustion causes illness, curtailing Loveren’s nightly travels. When she regains her strength and is able to return to Lumaria, Kayan is gone, having returned to land as a human. A magical and very passionate tale, Loveren’s story is powerfully expressed by Arkenstone on guitars, keyboards, drums, percussion, bass, saz, bouzouki, mandolin, vocals, and programming; Brooks’ voice; a crew of world-class musicians; and a choir. The CD package includes a beautifully-illustrated sixteen-page booklet that tells Loveren’s story and has the lyrics to the three songs that are sung in English. An extraordinary project, this is my favorite David Arkenstone recording from his very long and impressive career.
Loveren begins with “Origins,” a soulful prelude that introduces Loveren’s dreamy voice backed with strings, voices, and atmospheric sounds. About a minute into the piece, a multitude of drums enter and the music explodes into something very big and cinematic. “The Forbidden Sea” pulsates with conflicting feelings as Loveren contemplates defying her parents to satisfy her curiosity about what lies beyond her familiar surroundings. “Lumaria” is shimmering and magical, conveying the beauty and majesty of this ancient city. “Sessa Nulma (Mermaid Love)” is a tender love song sung in a combination of Mermish and English while “Jamboree” is a lively and exuberant celebration. “Song of Loveren” goes very dark and mournful - a gorgeous song, sad as it is! “Lost” is the only non-vocal piece and the motion of the music makes it easy to picture Loveren swimming from place to place looking for her lost love only to discover that he has returned to land. “Slip Away” is sung in English, perhaps because Loveren is singing to Kayan as a human. The pain and longing in her voice is heartbreaking. The closing track is “Love Always Waits,” a triumphant and joyous reunion and a happily-ever-after ending to a great story.
I give this one both thumbs up! Loveren is available from Amazon and iTunes. Great stuff!
February 18, 2013
Review by Michael Debbage