2009 / Disney Pearl
Review by Kathy Parsons
Voices is Yanni’s first studio release in six years. After establishing himself as one of the most charismatic and popular instrumental entertainers in the world, Yanni now presents us with his music with vocals by four young, very exciting singers. This project was a collaboration with Yanni and Grammy- and Academy Award-winning producer, Ric Wake, who discovered the singers and then mentored them over a period of two years. The singers were encouraged to write lyrics for their favorite Yanni pieces, making them their own. Eight of the seventeen tracks are Yanni classics reinvented as vocal pieces; the others are new, including three instrumentals. Nathan Pacheco and Ender Thomas both have powerful operatic voices and their songs are sung in Spanish and Italian. Chloe and Leslie Mills are more pop-oriented and most of their lyrics are in English. One gets the feeling that all four can sing any style of music well, but they seem to be especially well-suited to Yanni’s music. Yanni has always pulled out all the emotional stops with his music, and he has met his match in these singers whose passion rivals his own, sending the music soaring.
Voices begins with Nathan Pacheco’s incredible “Omaggio (Tribute),” originally from Yanni’s 1997 album of the same name. Nathan’s passionate tenor brings a tear to the eye and a shiver up the spine. What an amazing voice this guy has! Next up is the sultry voice of Leslie Mills, who has four consecutive tracks. “The Keeper” is a very catchy pop ballad. “Our Days” has a strong Middle Eastern flavor and lyrics, but Mills also uses her voice as an exotic instrument. I especially like “Before The Night Ends.” The melody is familiar, but isn’t credited as being an older song. “1001” is a new instrumental piece that carries all of Yanni’s traditional trademarks - a big sound, international influences, and passion. “Mas Alla” introduces Venezuelan-born Ender Thomas who sings his heart out without going over the top. “Unico Amore (Enchantment)” and “Vivi Il Tuo Sogno (Almost a Whisper)” are Yanni classics with lyrics written and sung by Nathan Pacheco - heart-melting! Chloe, at the age of 20, is the youngest of the singers, but what a voice! She has the vocal power and range of Christina Aguilera without the hard edge. Her singing style is strong yet vulnerable, making her capable of singing virtually anything. Her duet of “Mi Todo Eres Tu (Until the Last Moment” with Ender Thomas is show-stopping, and features them both singing in Spanish. There’s a big “wow” factor here! “Ritual de Amor (Desire)” is another highlight. Although Ender didn’t write the lyrics, he has taken one of Yanni’s most distinctive pieces and made it his own - intoxicating! “Moments Without Time” is a new instrumental that is more on the quiet side - piano, gentle percussion, and background voices. “Ne Tuoi Occhi (In The Mirror)” teams Chloe and Nathan who make musical magic. The closing track is Nathan singing “Amare di Nuovo (Adagio In C Minor), “ a stirring and inspiring ending to a most impressive album.
Voices includes a DVD that introduces the singers and presents samples of most of the CD’s tracks plus a couple more that will be performed in concert - it’s quite a package and widely available. Very highly recommended!
May 1, 2009