Thursday, November 3, 2016

Heather Small-Close To A Miracle (2006)


Miracles do happen, and a music miracle was indeed created when this former lead singer of the British dance group M PEOPLE decided to embark on a solo singing career I had the notion of reacquainting myself with the alluring Heather Small just a couple of days ago, as I was recalling other exotic soulful female singers that my ears have enjoyed in years past. I remembered Heather's debut album, "Proud", very well, especially that moving title track with the question she poses in the chorus, 'What have you done today to make you feel proud?'. So tonight, I began making new Heather Small memories, beginning as soon as turned the "Radio On", where I was reminded of her always easy-flowing, ever-so-enchanting chords and the even easier contemporary soft rock radio sound to her songs. She wastes no time in advocating this album's title track and its meaningful message that it's gonna take a miracle to make things right; how appropriate that is for so many of us, and I, for one, can attest to that personally. And that opening acapella performed by the soulful backup choir—a lovely way to get the miracle started! It's that same soulful backup choir, I suspect, that helps Heather to light the spiritual fire on the uplifting dance jam, "Rise Up". We need to hear more songs like these.....songs that instantly put a smile on your face and gladden even the most saddest of hearts.....songs that encourage and motivate you to continue to set your mind on the positive. Just the shouted words of 'rise up!' are enough to shake something in every listener's soul! She's delivering a similar message later on "Better Way"; the rise-up-and-make-a-change theme is reinforced again, but this too is something for everyone to hear. And as for the music and the performance itself, it's an exquisite combination of a mellow calm when she's singing the verses and the surprise hard rock explosion (plus that soulicious backing choir again) that breaks out in the intense chorus! At times, I felt that Heather would make an excellent jazz singer; evidence of that statement is shown on such marvelous slowed numbers as "Today", the beauty of a romantic tribute that is "Crazy For You" (something in the way Heather sings the word 'crazy' reminds me of how the late Natalie Cole sang the word 'everlasting' on her early jazz hit, "This Will Be"), the moving concluding piece, "Don't Give Up On Love", where her soulfulness rises high and mighty above the fuzzy, dreamy music (had me picturing one of those classical holiday tunes) and the more upbeat selection entitled "Everything's Alright". There's even greater achievements on this album to be appreciated—the story presented on "50 Ways To :Leave Your Lover", the other moving tribute called "Finally Found A Way", the exceptional vocal performance that is "Private Glory" (just her soaring words of 'we all need a private glory' did it for me; I even wish song had been extended for another minute or two, just as the background singers were starting to join in) and the tenderly touching "Love Is Always There"—all of which prove without a shadow of doubt that this 'small' lady has a VERY BIG voice:

1. Radio On
2. Close To A Miracle
3. Rise Up
4. Today
5. Everything's Alright
6. 50 Ways To :Leave Your Lover
7. Finally Found A Way
8. Better Way
9. Crazy For You
10. Private Glory
11. Love Is Always There
12. Don't Give Up On Love

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