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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Stephanie Schneiderman

Live at the Old Church

Review by Larry Toering

This is one of the artists dwelling in the Pacific North West who I hadn’t previously noticed. Considering some dominating factors I would have to put a prog tag on this particular disc because of how the songs play out and the music being overall more prog than not. It's difficult to categorize that way, being a live release, but the progressive folk and even some trip hop elements make it a heavy handed release. If Americana can meet prog, it does so better here than anywhere I've heard. A lot of these bands tend to be another thing altogether in concert than on record, and this album shows that Schneiderman  is no exception to that rule. It contrasts light and shade with perfection. So, while she is not primarily a prog artist, this places one foot strongly into that territory.

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
Waiting For Magic
This begins with Schneiderman's voice out of nowhere, leading the way through a beautiful track with a top notch delivery. Her voice, as light and fluffy as it is, shouldn't be mistaken for a singer with nothing lyrical on display, as this has everything to offer in that department, to go with the fantastic vocal sound.
Recognize
This is a more complex music arrangement altogether, with another fine vocal delivery from Schneiderman. The piano is heavily featured but doesn't dominate the track, it just adds a lovely touch to what is otherwise another vocal centered piece.
Rubber Teardrop
This is a well written and arranged tune with more of a pop feel to it than the others, so far. I noticed some fine lyrics on this one, as well. This is nothing but finely crafted songwriting and performing, indeed. In one word it's “remarkable.”
Dark Is Easier
This stays the course, but with perhaps a little less pop feel and more folk embellishments going for it. But once again there is no denying the beauty heard here, and the acoustic guitar lines are understated but applied in all the right places.
Hush
This has more of the trip hop element to it, but Schneiderman never crosses the line between that and the more singer/songwriter approach that she is clearly all about. I love this track in every way, and find it to be easily one of her best.
Stone China
This is yet another beautiful number with a great classical arrangement underneath it. Schneiderman’s voice simply can't be denied at this point on the disc, as it comes on very strong in the tone department. There are cool plucking strings to back it. This is an absolutely stunning performance!
Avalon
As a shiver tingles the spine with the opening notes, this takes things up another notch as she puts her all into it with this performance. What a showing we get from all here with such an evenly balanced delivery. This is also another well crafted tune worth noting along with several others.
Bridge On Fire
This is one of the more folk driven numbers, as there are a few on offer. It's the way they're transformed to the stage that brings them into all other kinds of categorical potential when one analyzes them enough. Talk about “crossover,” as Schneiderman  mentions in the track itself.
Oxygen
Likely being the deepest track on the disc, the mood takes over here and flies all over the venue. She puts herself inside the lungs of another and describes the title as not to be lived without. This is another brilliantly written and performed tune.    
Wide Open
This has another trip hop feel to it, with an electronic microphone effect. It mesmerizes as it progresses through the performance into a massively interesting and very cool arrangement, and easily goes a long way in culminating the entire show's peaking moment. This is a simply amazing track, and another favorite on the disc!
Twenty Slivers
This is another outstanding delivery, with more of the “lady sings the blues” approach, complete with Pink Floyd style backing female vocal build ups.
Remember You

Featuring a lovely sweeping acoustic guitar that compels from the start, this stays the course, but is basically the most straight forward tune performed in the set. Schneiderman’s voice simply cannot be denied here, as she adds just the right organic feel.

 

 

Paradise
This has a mandolin motif to set the track up, and actually winds up by far the most folkish in approach, containing an extravaganza of sorts by all performers on the stage. It is a great way to close this eclectic but still somehow seemingly one dimensional illusion of a set.
 
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