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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful voice - lovely songs
Mary-Jess Leaverland is a student studying Music and Chinese at the University of Sheffield. Her course involved work-experience in China and it was there, singing in Chinese, she won a competition (the Chinese equivalent of X-Factor).

This debut album has twelve top-quality songs, with strong poetry in the lyrics; seven were co-written by Mary-Jess. Her...
Published on 29 Sept. 2011 by Christine M. Pluck

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3 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I haven't given this cd a good rating simply because I found it difficult to understand the lyrics. If she wants to be considered a serious cross-over singer, her diction needs to dramatically improve. I waited to make this review until I watched her appear with Russell Watson in his concert at the Royal Albert Hall earlier this year. This confirmed her poor diction. You...
Published on 21 Nov. 2011 by John Hourigan


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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful voice - lovely songs, 29 Sept. 2011
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This review is from: Shine (Audio CD)
Mary-Jess Leaverland is a student studying Music and Chinese at the University of Sheffield. Her course involved work-experience in China and it was there, singing in Chinese, she won a competition (the Chinese equivalent of X-Factor).

This debut album has twelve top-quality songs, with strong poetry in the lyrics; seven were co-written by Mary-Jess. Her voice is outstanding, her diction clear and the recording is excellent.

The opening track (the best of all in my opinion) "Are You The Way Home?" shows the Chinese influence in her music and Track 8, the delightful "Yue Guang Al Ren" (A love before time), is sung largely in Chinese. Track 2, "Glorious", with a strong orchestrated rhythm from percussion and strings, shows the full range of her capabilities.

Other particularly strong songs include; Track 3 "Lighthouse Of Mine" (heart-warming poetry), Track 4 "Rising From The Fire", Track 11 "Burning Love" (with a wonderful piano climax) and Track 12 "Heaven Is Empty" (where again the Chinese Influence is unmistakable). In fact there isn't a duff song on the album - the CD notes include all the song lyrics over which it is worth meditating. In common with the other reviewers. I have no hesitation in recommending this outstanding and unique album.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shine, 20 Aug. 2011
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This review is from: Shine (Audio CD)
When I heard some samples from this album I thought that it was nothing special and that I had heard it before, however after reading the reviews on here and hearing A Love Before Time in full I thought I would give it a chance and I am glad I did. I think I dismissed Mary-Jess too soon and after listening to the album it turns out that she has a beautiful voice and is very talented. On this album she has co-written many of the songs and I think all of the songs are well chosen for her voice and it is very cohesive as a sound and as a message and shine really sums up the message of the songs. I love how the album sounds very Enya like and I love the chinese influence on the album and the use of different instruments and percussion to get this sound.

Some of my favourites:

Are You The Way Home? This is really catchy, you can hear the chinese influence- a lovely song
Lighthouse of Mine- I love the message of this song
Glorious- I thought this would be boring after hearing a sample, but is really shows Mary-Jess' range.
A Love Before Time- it is worth buying this album for this song alone, Mary-Jess sounds even better in chinese than English, I think she should do a whole album of chinese songs- this is really atmospheric and really well done.
Burning Love- this has amazing orchestration- especially towards the end.
An Angel Walking- I think this is based on 'The Promise' from the film the piano- the lyrics are good and I love this melody.

This is just a few of the good tracks- the ones that stand out for me- Mary-Jess is very talented and she deserved to do very well. Buy this album and you will not regret it, Mary-Jess has real talent!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shine, 11 Aug. 2011
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Mr. M. D. Brocket (Sheffield,England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shine (Audio CD)
I first heard Mary Jess being interviewed on Radio 4 and pre-ordered the CD as soon as I was able to. Her voice is simply wonderful; the CD production is a bit Enyaesque and a bit OTT at times in my opinion. I hope that other CD's will follow as her voice is something to listen to, a real singer with a range and quality that is breathtaking.

An addition to anyones collection, turn on, listen up and drift away!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A shining beacon, 29 Jan. 2012
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J. Harvey (Surrey) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shine (Audio CD)
I pre-ordered Shine long before its original release and, nearly six months on, it is still my most played album; so much so that I recently bought a second copy to be sure of always having it available both in the car and indoors.
The album opens in style with the bubbly yet dreamy 'Are You the Way Home'. I also love the official video for this track.
'Glorious' has become Mary-Jess's trademark song, and definitely lives up to its name.
Brilliant as the first two tracks are, it is the third, 'Lighthouse of Mine', that is my absolute favourite from the album. Starting so simply, those first few notes always set my emotions reeling in anticipation of what is to come; frequently it sets the tears rolling down my cheeks.
Every heart-warming track is worth listening to in its own right, yet special mention must be made of the achingly beautiful 'My Own Sunrise' and 'Burning Love'.
Mary-Jess's beautiful voice calms me yet excites me. Its seemingly fragile quality at times just adds to the exquisite appeal of this album for me. Shining like a beacon, it keeps drawing me back towards it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a classic, 11 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Shine (Audio CD)
This highly accomplished debut cd by Mary-Jess is one of the most beautiful records I have ever heard. It has deservedly been voted best classical crossover cd of 2011 and if you are a fan of the genre you will love this. Similar in style to singers like Sissel and Enya, but with a refreshingly new and distinctive sound which takes inspiration from both eastern and western cultures. Mary-Jess has a lovely soprano voice and has also had a hand in writing 7 of the 12 tracks here, so clearly a major talent in the making. This has proved a truly wonderful record to discover - warm, emotional and a constant delight for the whole of its 50 minutes duration.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing voice, 26 Dec. 2012
By 
Damon Lord (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Shine (Audio CD)
I had been looking forward to listening to this album for a long, long time. I was not disappointed! Wonderfully clear, Mary-Jess sings with a powerful intensity and emotionally captivates the listener. Of particular note is the perfectly clear bilingual Yue Guang Ai Ren, the song which originally launched her into the public's eye. This album is a perfect addition to any music collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic new sound!, 22 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Shine (Audio CD)
Haven't heard such a fresh new sound in such a long time. It has been fantastic to have on the back ground for working to. Took a gamble when i brought the album, had watched her on the Alan Titchmarsh show and knew she sang the theme to Downton abbey. I'm glad that I did take the gamble!
Would recommend to anyone!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh and vibrant crossover, 19 Dec. 2011
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Nicola Jarvis (Herts, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shine (Audio CD)
Crossover tends to gain negative press for having lack of creativity, vision and originality consisting of albums full of Nella Fantasias, Time To Say Goodbyes and Ave Marias. As sad as it to admit, the criticism is not unfounded in today's UK mainstream crossover.

Over the years, Decca has been one of the UK's worst offenders of churning out unoriginal, safe albums (though nowhere near as bad as Syco, to be fair). They seem to have a crossover track list of about 30 songs to choose from which they get out with every new crossover album. Uninspired releases like Joe McElderry's "Classic" and Laura Wright's 'The Last Rose' demonstrate they are not about to give up this tactic but Mary-Jess's 'Shine' (and Hayley Westenra's 'Paradiso') gives us that beautiful ray of hope that, as the UK's top crossover provider, we can still be presented with strokes of individuality and musicality in a genre that is constantly threatened by stagnation.

Every song on this warm and uplifting album is original, many of which Mary-Jess can claim writing credits. Most fortunately, Mary-Jess escaped Cowell's grasp when she auditioned for the UK X-Factor but was rejected. Chance led her to China's equivalent where she won in front of 70 million viewers. This is highly relevant to the ground works of this album as it infuses Western and Eastern sounds - and to marvellous effect. The Chinese influence is strong enough to give us something new, but not so strong that it alienates us. The album's stand out track, 'Glorious', has no obvious foreign sounds but still manages to sound exotic. The instantly catchy 'Are You the Way Home' does use very apparent Eastern sounds, but they are recognisable to us, enabling us to identify what we're are listening to so we're never uncomfortable.

As different as the album is, it's still very much a "safe" album, but in a clever way. There are no dark moments to be found in this collection, nor will you want to get up and pop some moves. It does not have the level of diversity that Sarah Brightman graces us with. All the songs are mellow, uplifting, gentle, beautiful and mild but it doesn't make the album any less strong. The songs are majestically melodic; they are never dull and have the power to move. 'Lighthouse of Mine' and 'Yue Guang Ai Ren (A Love Before Time)' may threaten the tear ducts and the radio friendly 'Heaven Is Empty' and 'Glorious' are bound to put a smile across your face.

'Shine' lives up to its name; it's a heart-warming album that fills your head with new unforgettable melodies and the heavenly voice of Mary-Jess. It's unfortunate that Decca lacked the resources to promote this album (they seemed to have used their energies on Laura Wright's lacklustre debut instead which was released around the same time) but there's a massive audience waiting for her in China, so I have no fear that we won't be hearing from her again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a good quality album... a thing of rarity these days, 6 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: Shine (Audio CD)
absolutely beautiful! fantastic voice, and an interesting infusion of west and chinese melody. why we don't have artists like Mary-Jess in today's chart saddens me... but with this album, it brings hope to the revive the golden era of the 80's-90's music industry yet again!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful debut!, 29 Aug. 2011
By 
Simon Palmer - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shine (Audio CD)
Our niece shared a room in China with Mary-Jess and supported her in the audience when she won the Chinese equivalent of X Factor. I guess therefore that we might be a little bit biased in our review, but this really is a wonderful debut CD.
We saw and met Mary-Jess on her tour with Russell Watson. She sang beautifully and showed a lovely personality. This CD is an excellent development for her.
We have been playing Glorious since April when it was available on download, but it is by no means the best track. There are no poor tracks here at all, some are just even better than others.
Mary-Jess has a crystal clear voice and I love how she completes each phrase of the lyrics with perfect diction.
There is an Enya feel to the album, but this is all very positive, with some interesting Chinese sounds.
Stand out track for me is My Own Sunrise, but this tends to change on each play. An Angel Walking and A Love Before Time are also superb tracks. The fact that Mary-Jess has co-written 7 of the tracks is even better. It will be very interesting to see what Mary-Jess produces next in what will hopefully be a long career. If you are unsure about buying this, all we can say is go on and give it a chance!
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