Good Review in The Australian

 Mandarin Skyline (Leigh Carriage)
BY:JAZZ: JOHN MCBEATH From: The Australian August 03, 2013

Mandarin Skyline: Leigh Carriage Source: Supplied
AUSTRALIAN vocalist-composer Leigh Carriage is based in Lismore, NSW, where she is head of vocal studies at Southern Cross University.

This first album of her originals was recorded in Sydney with some top-flight musicians, including bassist Jonathan Zwartz, drummer Hamish Stuart and guitarist Matt Smith as the foundation trio on all tracks. Carriage has a pure, clear voice in a style vaguely reminiscent of Joni Mitchell.

The title song, with its lyrics of romantic nostalgia, climbs into the upper register with long notes and features a sympathetic trumpet solo from Phil Slater, who also ends the track with an appropriate feeling of softness. All 10 songs are in a ballad tempo and the overall mood is one of introspection and often melancholy. Spring Uprising abandons sombre tones although the vocal, given the subject matter, could have sounded more joyful; a sprightly piano solo from Sam Keevers lifts the mood.

The intro to Breaking Point has an ominous feel as Matt McMahon's piano builds tension and the high-register vocal opening adds to the ethereal atmosphere. Slater's mysterioso trumpet intermingles with Carriage's wordless vocals in Refuge, a haunting theme that ends at a somewhat unexpected point on a high, breathy note. The mournful spirit is a suitable style for the subject matter of Lost Sons and Steve Russell contributes some thoughtfully substantial piano work, particularly in his solo.

These are songs of melodic interest, delivered in slower tempos, sung very well and excellently arranged, and they're probably best heard in a reflective, pensive mood.

LABEL: Vitamin
RATING: 3.5 stars

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