Your crusty chronicler is an individual who does his own thing. Still, when Examiner asked for support for their new “List” format, it was nigh impossible not to be open-minded about it. So, with that spirit of unity and teamwork in mind, your rockin’ reviewer presents this series—“Track by Track” in which we review certain select CDs literally “track by track”.
In this edition we (ahem) examine Laurie Biagini’s most recent release Sanctuary Of Sound. For those not up on their indie artists, Laurie Biagini is a singer-songwriter/keyboardist from Vancouver, British Columbia Canada, whose current cuts are influenced by artists such as early Brian Wilson/The Beach Boys, The Mamas and the Papas, The Beatles, The Byrds and Jan & Dean. Her new release contains 14 original offerings recorded “over the last year or so”. On this, her fourth release, Biagini is occasionally assisted by guest artists Vinnie Zummo and Fabrizio Serrecchia.
(View the list to learn more about the music.)
“Sanctuary of Sound”
The album opens on the titular track “Sanctuary of Sound”. Here listeners are introduced to Serrecchia’s noteworthy guitar work as Biagini begins with a reverb-soaked song that is steeped in elements reminiscent of Lesley Gore, the Mamas and Papas and early girl groups (The Honeys, The Shangri-Las) in general. It’s even got a catchy beat.
“Monkey Business” and “Beautiful World”
The second selection is “Monkey Business”. This one drew mixed reactions from the critics in that the “jungle metaphors and tropical beat” might make it almost “too cute” even for Biagini. Still, one cannot deny that the underlying melody is actually somewhat sophisticated. It’s followed by “Beautiful World” which takes a tunefully optimistic look at life’s assorted adventures.
“Rise Up” and “Shades of Green”
The next number is titled “Rise Up”. This, too, contains a sophisticated melody and further demonstrates Biagini’s ability to compose pop pieces. The song “Shades of Green” comes in next as she continues expressing her musical muses via inspiration from popular 1960s acts keeping her signature sound very much intact.
“Gold Plated Girl” and “Run To The Sun”
The sixth serving is the “Gold Plated Girl” which is a surprising, slightly satirical swipe of a song. It’s also a bit of a “party song” and is highlighted by an encore performance by Serrecchia on lead guitar. “Run To The Sun”, which introduces Zummo on guitar, all too quickly eclipses it though as the “one-woman-Beach- Boys” babe continues to work her surf music magic.
”Castle of Sand” and “Sunburn”
Also included here are the oft’times overlooked ”Castle of Sand” and the summer song “Sunburn” which includes an encore by Serrecchia on lead guitar. They further illustrate both Biagini’s dedication to her favorite themes and tuneful trademarks as well as her true desire to move on a bit as well.
”Springtime of My Mind”
”Springtime of My Mind” picks up where the previous pieces left off as the music continues to sound wonderfully reminiscent of other 1960′s sunshine pop groups. By now it should be obvious to any listener that this new disc is destined to be deemed highly appropriate for warm weather listening.
“Two of a Kind”
“Two of a Kind” is an obvious love song and contains yet more of her classic ’60s-vintage pop-tinged tunes that has become an early fan favorite. It’s catchy and has a great hook which could be why Biagini approved the inclusion of this cut on the International Pop Overthrow 2012 compilation.
“Perfect Thing to Say” and “Autumn Years”
It’s followed by the piece “Perfect Thing to Say” and the awesome “Autumn Years”. While the former works well enough with the other tunes the latter is a bit more memorable. While the latter was criticized for borrowing “from the Siouxsie and the Banshees version of the Beatles’ ‘Dear Prudence’”, the truth is this is something that should be considered par for the course as Biagini has never denied paying tribute to any artist or band she enjoys. Serrecchia also returns once more on lead guitar.
The sun sets on this disc of summer songs with the closing cut “Sunset”. This is the only song not totally composed by Biagini. This one is co-written with Zummo. It seems to be a tuneful tip of the hat to at least one of Biagini’s major influences—The Beach Boys. It features Zummo on lead guitar and backing vocals. It’s a most apt ending to Biagini’s latest (and some say) her best efforts.
Overall, Sanctuary Of Sound remains true to Biagini’s signature sound with the welcome and expected layered vocals, noteworthy melodies and music reminiscent of Top 40 artists of the early 1960s. While some critics claim her lead vocals have “faded more into the mix”, your astute author sees this as more a demonstration of her being secure enough to let the music meld together in a more overall effective mix. As to the claim that “there isn’t a lot of variety in her approach”, she should be commended for staying true to her own artistic vision of 1960’s-tinged tracks complete with universal themes and musical metaphors for life. Check out Laurie Biagini’s Sanctuary Of Sound and you just might feel the urge to “Run To The Sun”.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.