Dark Hope CD
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Renée Fleming is an accomplished soprano who's sung opera for the last 30 years, and is now turning her hand to rock and pop with this eclectic album of covers. The song choices–from The Mars Volta to Leonard Cohen–are uneven yet interesting, and there's little to nitpick about her voice, but the project isn't altogether successful.
The tiresome question hanging over it is: what's this for? Of course most music doesn't have to contribute anything especially; it is what it is. Covers, however, are what something else is, and if you're treading in someone else's musical footprints then you're, um, on the back foot from the start. It must be humbling even for a performer of Fleming's standing.
Fleming's precise phrasing and sonorous expression in this uncertain new context immediately and unfortunately brings to mind operatic metallers Within Temptation. She sounds almost like Marianne Faithfull, if Marianne Faithfull could really sing.
Her voice is deeper than you expect–her take on the gentle No One's Gonna Love You by Band of Horses is transposed lower than seems necessary, sapping something from the song. The soaring high notes she allows herself throughout are pure and extraordinary, but they're rare. She seems to be going against her own voice as well as her genre.
Her version of Mad World is interesting, sparse and dark, but there are some compressed horns in there that seem to mock it–elsewhere, there is some awful keening guitar work. Sincerity isn't lacking here, but soul may be. She tries Duffy's Stepping Stone–Duffy may sing like a distressed sea bird but it's her best song, defiant in fragility. Fleming sounds like a mature, confident woman, and it doesn't convince.
She finishes with a lengthy Hallelujah–the albatross in the aviary. It's like a comment on cover versions; it's such a standard, and yet so stubbornly cultish that it resists every rehash. It's like no other song, and this version doesn't distinguish itself. This is a respectable collection and a work that embarrasses no one, but lacking in purpose and ultimately in heart. --Sarah Bee
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Top Customer Reviews
Then last week the album was the album of the week and after I had heard her version of Arcade Fires Intervention and a fabulous version of Peter Gabriel"s In Your Eyes I was hooked !
What a voice and the power behind it obvious.
May have to listen to the opera stuff now !
The shortcomings are that these songs are set in the blandest of settings, all tastefully restrained guitar figures and syrupy synth textures. Taken in bit size chunks it is quite palatable but over the course of an album it can become sickly. Would also have been nice for the instrumentation to vary somewhat. Couldn't they have done one song with just voice and piano, or voice and guitar etc? Or made better use of tempo changes? Real strings are used in places but it still sounds like there's a sugary synth pad competing in the same frequency range.
And when we get what should be euphoric background vocals they just sound incredibly polite.
Just wish they taken some chances. You have a world class singer, brilliant material and she's straitjacketed by the arrangements. There's a factory feel to this as if every song has started from the same template. The two songs that work best are those by the Arcade Fire and the Mars Volta and these seem to form the centrepoint of the album. The version of Cohen's Hallelujah is okay and at least Renee understands the lyrics but it doesn't come anywhere near the benchmark interpretations of Jeff Buckley and John Cale.
Despite my reservations I do actually quite like this - maybe given time I'll be able to forget about my frustrations with the arrangements and just enjoy the songs and the vocal performance.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'd heard bits of this CD and thought it was so different for what you would expect for Ms Flemming. A real good and interesting set of songsPublished on 7 Feb. 2014 by Lloydyboy
I am both a big opera and indie music fan. Her renditon of Arcade Fire's Intervention is simply divine! Read morePublished on 8 Aug. 2013 by raxtra
Its a long way - two octaves actually - from her usual repertoire and some of the songs not the greatest. Plus, the instrumental is a bit over elaborate (operatic even?). Read morePublished on 22 Jun. 2011 by padraigyeates
Yes, Endlessly on Ken Bruce won me over too!!! I saw her on the Jools Hooland show and thought her a bit strange but engaging. Read morePublished on 14 April 2011 by Susie Q
Although a big opera fan, Renee Fleming is not one of my favourite opera singers, however, I heard one of her crossover songs and decided to listen to more, which I am extremely... Read morePublished on 3 Jan. 2011 by Dawn
This is a wholly disappointing album.
The musical composition of each of the songs is extremely weak, the lyrics of the songs seem to have been strung together by a... Read more
It is not very often that I have come across an opera star that can really sing non-operatic repertoire, however delightful or great their voices may be. Read morePublished on 17 Oct. 2010 by George M