Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Music Review: Lori Cunningham, Unseen

By Nichole Giles

The day I opened my mailbox and found my new Lori Cunningham CD, I was on my way out the door to run some errands. I took the time to open the package and slide the disk in my car stereo so I could listen as I drove.

As it happens, I was also feeling quite introspective, and even a bit emotional that day, so Lori’s melodious strains turned out to be just the balm my soul needed. I found her new age style unique and her vocals very clean, and smooth. My first instinct was to compare her to Enya, or even possibly Evanessence, but her sound is different enough that I think Lori Cunningham is in a category all her own.

My favorites: Some of Lori’s songs touched a deep chord of emotion in me.

Everytime (song # 4) is a thoughtful, introspective look at mistakes, and how we make the same ones over time and time again.

Inside (song # 6) is a powerful look at who we are on the inside, as opposed to what people see when they look at us on the outside. This particular song rang true for me, as I often wonder, and sometimes struggle with what people really see when they look at me. Wonderful, deep thoughts in both lyric and music.

Tears of a Rose (song #8) is—I think—my favorite. I can’t decide if it’s the deep lyrics or the haunting arrangement. Or maybe it’s the combination of the vocals and music. In this song, Lori’s voice is as pure and sweet as any instrument, and melds with the accompaniment in what can only be described as a poignant, evocative song about the deepest sadness inside a heart, and the unfathomable love that causes it. (Or—at least, that’s my interpretation.)

My nitpicks: in a few places on a couple of the songs, I thought the keyboard synthesizer was a little heavy and overpowered some of the vocals. For me, her voice is sweet and strong, and I was disappointed that it was more difficult to pick out over the music. But, that’s just me being—well, nitpicky.

I was privileged to have the opportunity to interview Lori recently, and thought I’d share with my readers some of the information they’re all dying to know.

NG: Hi Lori! Thanks for taking time to meet with me and share your deepest, darkest, innermost secrets with my readers. So tell me, what’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

LC: I've been known to make a mean French vanilla coconut ice cream - all completely healthy and natural. BUT... when I'm not able to make that or just in the mood to be bad, my all time fave is Chocolate Cherry Nut Truffle from Smith's, the Kroger brand. Nothing else even comes close! *drool drool*

NG: Ooh, that French vanilla coconut sounds delish! And I have to admit to never having tried the Kroger one. I’ll have to pick up a carton next time I’m there. Now I want some.

(Listening to Lori’s CD in the background…)

NG: Wow, your music is inspired. You must listen to other artists a lot. Who is your favorite musician or artist? (Besides you or me, since everyone already knows we’re both awesome.)

LC: That's a really tough question! It just really depends on what I'm in the mood for and it has changed over the years. Today my favorite musicians or group is Blue Stone, hands down. I can't stop listening to them!

NG: Since we all know you have a life besides your music, can you tell us your most favorite thing to do when you’re not writing/ performing?

LC: You mean what I really love doing or what I have to do, LOL! If it's my most favorite thing of what I love to do is read. I'm an avid reader. In fact, several of my songs over the past couple of years are inspired by books I've read. My favorite genre is fantasy/romance, though I'm reading a lot of young adult books lately. They're intriguing and I don't have to think deeply. It's a nice break. I also love to spend time with my family in a non-stressful, fun way. And singing. I'm always singing! Now, what I have to do... there's actually something extremely satisfying and stress relieving having a newly cleaned house. Not that it stays that way for very long.

NG: Nice! You read my writing genre. (I’ll let you know when my book is released.) Sounds like you’re one busy chick. Wait, you’re not really a chick. And that almost sounds—well, not nice. But hey, if you were an animal, what kind would you be and why?

LC: A cat! Because I love kitties. I grew up always have a lot of cats around and I can't think of another animal that I love more. And sometimes I can ignore someone really good, just like a cat. Selective hearing, if you will.

NG: Interesting. Now that we’re really getting to the heart of the artist in you, time for the all important question. Do you prefer diamonds or pearls?

LC: Diamonds all the way. Not that I wear them a lot. In fact, I only wear my wedding ring about once a week, if I remember. I think they're much prettier than pearls.

NG: And, after all, diamonds are a girl’s best friend, right? One last question and then I’ll let you get back to work. What power snacks keep you going as you work? We all have them.

LC: Well, considering that I actually can't eat while I work, especially while singing, that wouldn't be very feasible! But when I record vocals, I have to have a water bottle with a drop of peppermint and citrus fresh essential oils. It keeps my throat hydrated and cuts out on all those "mouth" noises that a sensitive microphone picks up. Those really bug me! Otherwise, I can't live without at least one apple a day and a green smoothie. Those are my power foods, all the way.

NG: Nice! Now, I know I said that was the last question, but I can’t help but wonder how you find the time to compose and record—aren’t you also a stay-at-home mom of three?

LC: I'm the ultimate multi-tasker! I take a piece of paper around with me everywhere and write down random lyrics. I try to stay focused on the song at hand, even when I'm not able to work on it. My #1 tool is my cheapo mp3 player and stereo in the kitchen. Most of my lyrics and melodies are written and worked on while I'm cleaning and making dinner. I have it playing and I'm singing my little heart out, writing down lyrics that work. To actually record, I have to be a bit creative. During the summer, I have to wait until my husband is home so he can watch the kids. Needless to say, I don't get much work done in the summer! When school is in session, I have recorded either during naptime of my youngest, or when he's gone at preschool. I'm not able to totally lose myself for hours at a time like other recording artists do and I'm not a night person, so staying up into the wee hours of the morning is also not an option. I work with what I'm given! So while it takes me longer to have a finished product, I do it right and the best to my ability.

NG: Okay, seriously, that sounds really familiar. Just today I’m celebrating the fact that my kids are back in school so I can actually finish the rough draft of my current book. And the notebook thing? Whoever invented notebooks deserves a special place in heaven as far as I’m concerned.

Thank you so much for letting us have a glimpse into the life of a recording artist / mother. You’re truly an amazing person who makes remarkable music. Oh, and also, thanks for the CD. I’ve been listening to it for the better part of two weeks. It’s great writing background.

Here's a little taste:

By Lori Cunningham

Is what I show
The person deep inside
The person deep inside of me
Who really knows
The person deep inside
Screaming to be seen (free)

Trying to be
What others want you to be
Not really living
Never truly free
Clouding your vision
So even you can’t see
Who you are meant to be.

Hurry now to buy your copy of Lori Cunningham’s Unseen.

Click here to visit Lori’s website and learn more about her and her album in progress.


Jenni said...

That was such an awesome review for Lori. Kudos to you ! I love your writing style too :) Which, obviously, sounds like you have some experience with :) (I found your blog through Lori by the way). Great review!

Deborah said...

I totally agree that Lori is a gifted musician. I want, however, to say something about the keyboard being *a little heavy and overpowering some of the vocals*. Lori’s music really isn’t New Age, but is a part of the the electronica genre called Downtempo (or Downbeat). Downbeat is a genre that is widely misunderstood. Instead of the voice being the focal point or the solo interest, the voice is dialed back to meld with the music like another instrument.

Lori Cunningham has accomplished this beautifully with skill.

Nichole Giles said...

You're right. Thank you, Deborah, for pointing that out. Lori has definitely done an excellent job, and I love, love, love her music.

As in all my reviews, I do my best to be as honest as possible for my readers, but for the most part I'm sharing just my opinion. And my opinion of Lori's work is very high. She'll do well in her career.

Thanks for stopping by!