Virgin Records, 1997



Oh my God oh my God oh my God! I just had the kiefest idea. What if we got Vanessa-Mae to be Geri's replacement for the Spice Girls??? She's a Brit herself, she can air-sing like them, she dresses like them (of COURSE I've noticed all that glitter in her cleavage), and just look at the silly one-liners in her album liner notes: "Storm. Powerful natural. Frightened? Then hide from it. If not, enjoy it." Add in the background for "Spice Up Your Life" and we have... voila!... Catgut Spice. Stradivarius Power!

What was EMI thinking when they released "I Feel Love" as a video? Most of it has her breathlessly singing the words "I feel love" over and over again over an electronica background (almost no violin). While the ethereal vocalizing in the intro of "I'm A Doun" (a Celtic melody fused with African voices and drums) certainly shows above average talent in Enya-like control, she pushes the envelope in songs like "Embrasse Moi (You Fly Me Up)" and "I Feel Love". Both songs are lyric-based, but it's obvious that Vanessa-Mae is no extraordinary vocal talent. "Who Do You Think You Are?"my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But few would question her extraordinary fiddling talent. Whether it's a hyperspeed dance arrangement like "(I) Can, Can (You?)" or easy listening bordering on the New Age in "A Poet's Quest (for a Distant Paradise)", her enthusiasm is foot-stamping in the former, bleeding into the air in the latter. "Retro" and "Leyenda" are a step-up from the underdone atmospheric qualities of her last pop album, but it's still no Sarah Brightman or symphonic Led Zeppelin.

Although a lot less obvious now, there are still some experiments with samples and effects going on in machine-inspired "Aurora" and the oversampled, overloaded arrangement of "Bach Street Prelude" (breaking the mold is fine, as long as it's not done out of necessity). In "The Blessed Spirits", she even steps aside to let less appetizing synthesizers take over the focus. But I've always loved it when she played her electric violin like an electric guitar; "Hocus Pocus" is amazing, conjuring images of the multi-armed Hindu God Shivva.

"I'm A Doun" sounded a lot better when it came after a suite of Scottish folk songs for violin in The Classical Album 1, though it's still the best track on the entire album (who'd have thought the two ethnic cultures would fuse together so beautifully?). Speaking of a sense of belonging, "Happy Valley" (a Chinese choir number overlaid with violin, performed during the Hong Kong handover ceremony) is misplaced by the artist's own admission. To have it appear on the same album as "I Feel Love" is like having Madonna singing Chinese opera.

To be honest, the music in The Violin Player was experimental at best and none too deep. The sheer freshness of having a violin making that kind of music (throw in some sexy tank-top videos) was its selling point. Depth is still not an issue; "Storm" is more of a celebration of British-style honest-to-goodness airplay-pop. Less thought provoking but definitely more entertaining than China Girl - The Classical Album 2. Keep it next to your copy of Spiceworld.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 JB and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Virgin Records, and is used for informational purposes only.