Artist:  VOTA
Title:  VOTA
Label:  INO Records

Secret’s out:  Band delivers stunning INO debut …

VOTA has a secret. It’s not really a new band. Formerly known as Casting Pearls, the quartet changed their name in 2008. If their former project was palatable standard fare, then their name change launched standard to stunning.

The band delivers a music defibrillator on album opener “Hard to Believe” that will jump-start the hearing of any listener, then eases gently into “Be Mine,” a charming, retro-tinted love song to the Lord. The band amps things up again with “Love’s Taken Over,” where Bryan Oleson’s distinctive voice croons its way to excellence.

Actually, the Nebraska-based quartet has mastered the art of subliminal arrangements that boost Oleson’s voice to its rightful place in the spotlight. They also succeed on “Honestly,” a toned down anthem that utilizes a lovely piano and the strongest lyrical lines on the project:  “If you don’t see the real me, you won’t see what mercy has done/ If you don’t see my weakness, you won’t see what love has won.”

Middle tracks “Give it to Me” and “Bye Bye” are infused with tasteful synthesizers, techno beats and strident guitars. That’s not all the talented foursome has going for them … band mates Oleson, Case Maranville, Scott Rutz and Riley Friesen have forged a solid chemistry, and their energy flows effortlessly through each track. It all combines for a simply flawless project that will reverberate long after the last notes of “In My Heart.”

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**This review first published on March 27, 2009.