First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2007, Volume 14, #9
Written by Matt Parish
Mon September 3, 2007, 06:00 AM CST
There is an enchantment about Annie Haslam that few people find escapable. Her infectious laugh, her adoring smile, and her immense talents have kept her at the forefront of both the progressive music scene and, more recently, the art world. As the lead singer of the enormously popular ’70s band Renaissance, she applied her five-octave, angelic delivery to some of the era’s finest material, which won her legions of devoted fans all around the globe.
When musical styles shifted and Renaissance split up, Haslam enjoyed a highly successful solo career that yielded nine albums. She also recorded with an array of musical luminaries, such as Roy Wood, Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues, and Steve Howe of Yes. Woman Transcending, her most recent effort, is a compilation of rarities that covers the full range of the journey she took between the ’70s and the ’90s. To put it in Haslam’s own words, "This collection of songs was recorded at various times and in different countries, and because of this, the sound quality will vary a little...but I feel this adds to the emotion and beauty of this CD."
As with any personal scrapbook that covers a 20-year span, some of the memories can appear to be a little rough around the edges. Yet, with Woman Transcending some of the less polished tracks come off as the most poignant. In particular, Somewhere Out There, a beautiful duet that Haslam performs with her now deceased brother Michael, initially grabs the listener by the heart and then the throat because the song’s message assumes a whole new meaning in the wake of his death.
Throughout Woman Transcending, Haslam explores many different styles and production standards, and the transitions between these disparate forces allow the listener to follow Haslam on her expedition. The country flavorings on So Sad — which was written by Don Everly — and Beyond the Blue — which was co-written by the legendary Carl Perkins and his sons and his daughter — add a distinctive twist to what usually is expected from this glorious songstress. These are only a few of the surprises waiting to be found on the set.
Lily’s in the Field, which features guitarist and co-writer Steve Howe, is both a touching tribute and a haunting plea for the orphans in Sarajevo. Haslam’s musical embrace carries a message to these innocent victims of war by hoping that one day they will be able to run through the fields and play like children should. It is a very moving moment on a record that is filled with heartfelt remembrances as well as eternal and maternal hope.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box