Love Tattoo

Amelia's Dream

Ripe & Ready Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Have you ever bought an album or a CD strictly for the packaging, then been disappointed when the music encased inside turned out to be terrible? Maybe this isn't as common as it used to be as CDs creep up towards the $20 list price, but I'm sure there is still the occasional impulse buy that occurs thanks to the artwork.

In the case of Love Tattoo, the second release from independent group Amelia's Dream, I almost never got past the "oh-my-God" packaging and artwork. Once I finally put the CD in my player, I waited to see if the music could live up to the visual hype. Enter "oh-my-God" moment number two, as the music delivered its payload.

The core of the band - Amelia Gewirtz and Harold Stephan - are musically at a crossroads. On one side, they seem to love the gentleness of the ballads and the sheer power the words can have over the softer rhythms. On the other hand, Amelia's Dream is a band ready to kick out the jams, and they appear ready to turn up their amplifiers. This is the only real moment on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Love Tattoo which is a bit unsettling; they do both musical forms well, but I question whether we needed to hear nouveau disco with "Fire In My Heart (re-mix)". It's a good mix, to be sure, but it just sounds so out of place in comparison.

Fortunately, this is the only mis-step, and it's hardly a major one. Love Tattoo is as intriguing as it is enthralling musically; from the light pop of "Footprints" to the trippiness of their cover of Santana's "Evil Ways," from the raw honesty of "The Aisle With You" to the declaration of independence on "Footprints," Gewirtz and Stephan make sure that Amelia's Dream burns their impression on your brain. (Don't be surprised if more than once you feel like you've heard them before.)

Gewirtz's voice is enigmatic as well, changing its power and depth as effortlessly as a chameleon. At one moment, she sounds like a more mature Jewel; at other times, she has the ethereal beauty of someone like Heather Nova or Lisa Loeb. It's quirky and serious, both at the same time, and it's infectious. Listen to songs like "Trust Your Gut" and "Push The Button" and try walking away without somehow being affected by these songs. You can't do it. I've tried.

Sure, some people might not get past the eye candy of Love Tattoo's cover art; let them ogle away, since it's their loss that they can't find the strength to get to the music. Those who experience this disc will understand that the cover art is itself an extension of the music - simple yet complex, soft with a cutting edge. I swear, one more reference like this, and someone from The New Yorker is going to sue me for plagiarism. But it's all true, and Amelia's Dream is a band able to deliver the goods. Love Tattoo is proof of this, and is a disc that whispers at the top of its lungs to be noticed. Heed the call, buy the disc, and start saying "oh-my-God" for yourself.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen 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 Ripe & Ready Records, and is used for informational purposes only.