Alternative rock and Soul artist, Giovanna McDanel, influenced by Sam Cooke, Etta James, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and for modern people – Jeff Buckley, returns with a release that showcases her voice in a different way than her album – DeNova. Her new release – Lumiere Lullabies, takes her on a journey of lullaby-ish movie soundtrack numbers with just her voice and the two guitars of Mark Kassenbrock and Giovanni Mera. She tackles these tunes with their guitars layered around her voice, and it’s a stripped back approach to the music but it adds a depth to the tracks that aren’t found on the originals.
Giovanna McDanel puts her own special stamp on some tracks that never lose their original sense of appeal in the process, especially on the modern takes of the classics involved. The choice of songs plays like an album that’s meant for it, and it makes for a fantastic compilation of her own. This is a very gifted singer with a terrific way of re-arranging these songs with superior consistency. Guitarists Mark Kassenbrock and Giovanni Mera are the icing on the proverbial cake for all it is worth, which track for track is worth its weight in gold. The whole album is a must hear.
“Once Upon A December” opens the album with some killer guitar flurries before her voice takes over and turns the song into her own little gem. The track was recorded for the movie Anastasia, by Liz Callaway, and composed by David Newman and Stephen Flaherty with words by Lynn Ahrens. It’s only natural to compare covers to the original, but it’s hard to do when treated with such justice. It’s different, and all efforts made here turn out to be that way without changing these tracks beyond recognition. That’s some of the magic to be found on this album.
That’s quite a way to open, drawing conclusions thus far into it that it’s a success from the get go. “Over The Rainbow” isn’t a huge stretch for most singers able to do it, so it can be an obvious choice sometimes. You have-to knock it out of the park or why do it. Giovanna takes the prize home on this, and you’ll see by the second verse that it is a world class version of her own. Her voice is remarkably captivating, a simply stunning sound that is pitch-perfect. This should be a choice for a single, because it’s one of the best three tracks on the album for my money. It’s one of the best ways to turn onto Giovanna’s great voice.
The Sherman Brothers would be proud of her rendition of the Mary Poppins classic “Feed The Birds” with its haunting guitar lines that weave in and out of her beautiful voice. There’s really no words to explain the majesty going on with songs that are in the heads of so many, yet room for this much more exists to keep them going. That much can be said for the older material, anyway. “Edelweiss” keeps you in love with the ditty because they do it so wonderfully-well. It’s that plain and simple, with “Nature Boy – Beautiful Things” turning out my favorite performance, and the rest is gravy. I’m glad I heard Lumiere Lullabies.