Title: Dreams & Visions
Label: Rhythm House Records
Mary-Kathryn is one of the few artists moving comfortably between the Christian market and the Adult Eclectic market, otherwise known as the commercial world of New Age.
I imagine it’s not an easy path, as her sound is possibly New Age-y enough to offend some Christians, and her lyrics, while not always overt, definitely come across as Christian and even are straight-up Scripture at times, probably too spiritual for New Agers. But it’s where she believes she has been directed, and Dreams & Visions is her fourth offering along those lines, a unique blend of soft pop, folk and world music with strong spiritual overtones.
The jangly guitars, sitar and unique percussion of opener “Incense of Praise” send you to an immediate ‘60s vibe, before you settle in to appreciate Hugh Marsh’s electric violin embellishments. Mary-Kathryn sings quietly in the spirit, her ethereal vocals over the eclectic rhythms intriguing, to say the least. “You Are There” is both compelling (for its rhythmic kick) and reassuring (lyrics drawn from Psalm 139). Marsh’s note-bending violin stands out again on the sultry “Dreamers,” Mary-Kathryn’s vocals appropriately pensive. The Mid-Eastern-flaired “Psalm 91” features that same dreamy vocal flow, but a bit less successfully, as too much of it can begin to come across as a lack of focus, although that is strictly a personal style preference.
The same ethereal quality on “My Father’s House” allows the energy level to drop significantly, but things pick up a bit with the throbbing pop-rocker “In Your Time.” Several piano ballads follow, the lilting “Eve of Your Return” being the most rewarding with its Celtic undertones and Mary-Kathryn’s compelling tone of deep yearning. She and producer Paul Buono wisely chose an upbeat worship track to close out the project, the eclectic percussion and layered instrumentation of “Glory Forever” thick under the lush vocals of Mary-Kathryn and her Finnish backup vocal team, Fire 4U.
As I say, not for everyone, but if you enjoy world music and don’t want to enter the New Age arena, Mary-Kathryn’s Dreams & Visions might be the solution for you.
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