Customer Review

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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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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