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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Anya Parker-Lentz

The Giving

Review by Gary Hill

This awesome disc combines modern sounds with retro elements. It’s a real testament to the strength of the set that the weakest music here is stronger than the best stuff on a lot of discs. It’s even more impressive when you consider that Anya Parker-Lentz is 16 years old and still in high school. This young lady is very talented and should have a great career ahead of her. That’s good for her, but also good for music fans because we can probably expect a lot of great music in the future from Parker-Lentz. If there’s a complaint to be made about this, it’s that it’s too short. As good as this is, it would be great to hear more. I guess that means patience is required to wait for her next release.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Staredown

Bouncy and very much in keeping with modern pop rock, this is an intriguing cut that has a lot of energy. It’s catchy and has some intriguing moments. While it’s arguably the weakest and least “special” track on the set, it’s still an effective way to start things off and it’s a strong tune. It’s just that everything else here is so strong that it fades in comparison a bit. There is a mellower, melodic movement mid-track and some of the guitar in the arrangement brings just a touch of country reference to it.

Not Trying to Hurt You

This rocker has a very classic sound to it. It grows out organically and really works. The vocal performance is particularly strong and emotional – one might even say “soulful.” This is a killer tune that rocks out a lot.

Stuck in Limbo
This comes in tentatively but launches out into a powerful tune that’s got a dense and pretty arrangement. There are a lot of retro sounds here and the whole song is really great. The lead vocals are really strong, but the backing vocals add a lot, too.
The Giving

The title track rocks out pretty hard after a piano based introduction. . It’s one of the most modern sounding pieces. That said, it’s still quite a powerful song that doesn’t feel generic.

Wake Up Alice
The retro sounds are in full form on the introduction to this piece. It’s got a lot of cool psychedelia on the introduction. Then it drops to a mellow balladic movement for the first vocals. It grows into an extremely powerful tune. There are definitely hints of retro rock sounds and once again the vocal arrangement and vocals in general are strong.
Walking Out

Pretty piano opens this one tentatively. It powers out into one of the most modern sounding piece of the whole set. There’s a lot of oomph to this, but not at the expense of melody. While this feels closely related to modern pop rock, that’s not where it ends. That means there are still some hints of retro sound here.

Lullaby

Acoustic guitar opens this and that motif continues as the vocals come over the top. This is a powerful cut with the vocals providing the bulk of the charm. Still, the guitar based arrangement has a lot of drama and power built within despite the mellower approach to it. Normally a mellow tune isn’t the best way to end a set, but this is so powerful that it works. That really says a lot.

 
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