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Highlights: Il Mio Respiro, Every Time I Breathe, Carry On, The Day I Came Undone
Canadian soprano Sarena Paton has already enjoyed success in various areas of the entertainment industry, but La Carissima is her first attempt at classical crossover. Despite releasing the album without the backing of a major record company, Paton works with some top talent, including the honour of recording with a full orchestra. Less importantly, but a nice touch nonetheless, the packaging is also beautifully put together - better quality than most established artists' albums, in fact.
La Carissima has a diverse track list even though it could have done with two or three more songs. The album opens with the Italian ballad 'Il Mio Respiro' that immediately informs the listener of Paton's clean, sweet and sincere vocals. 'Every Time I Breathe' is a beautiful number and puts Paton's voice in its best light. Self-penned 'Carry On', which she wrote in dedication to war veterans and is about the thoughts and wishes of someone's last moments, is sung with real conviction. The lyrics are simple, but effective and is one of the album's highlights. It is, however, the melodic soft pop song 'The Day I Came Undone' that stands out the most, with fine lyrics and a wonderful swirling arrangement that Paton takes to great heights in the uplifting chorus. Her song writing skills are used once again for the Spanish 'Nunca', further demonstrating Paton's musical diversity. The crossover standard 'Nella Fantasia' is included, but there have been better arrangements, particularly ones that make use of the 'Falls' motif from Morricone's The Mission. But whereas other versions have an overbearing orchestral arrangement, it is Paton's voice that is at the forefront which makes for a softer rendition than others.
Classical pieces include Schubert's 'Ave Maria', Bach's 'Quia Respexit' and Mozart's 'Laudate Dominum' whilst there is only one aria on the album: Schicchi's 'O Mio Babbino Caro'. Paton performs these in an accessible thin operatic voice, but despite the accuracy and superb diction, her higher notes can become shrill, especially in 'O Mio Babbino Caro'; she may be better off sticking to lighter crossover pieces and light pop songs where she certainly seems to excel. The choice between the classical standards and the more rarely recorded pieces is well balanced, however.
Overall, it is a shame that the album is not longer, and it would be a real treat if Paton worked on more of her own songs and more crossover type material. It is a good choice of album for anyone that wants to hear new material in the crossover spectrum, and especially for fans that enjoy Emma Shapplin's voice as Paton shares a similar crystal clear, high pitched vocal as the enigmatic songstress. Paton's musical experience elsewhere will no doubt continue her growth as a creative artist and is definitely, therefore, one to watch in the future.
1. Il Mio Respiro
2. Ave Maria (Schubert)
3. Every Time I Breathe
4. Nella Fantasia
5. Quia Respexit
6. Carry On
7. O Mio Babbino Caro
8. The Day I Came Undone
9. Laudate Dominum