Monday, July 15, 2024
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Siobhan Owen - Storybook Journey


Overall: (?)

Classical < < < > > > Pop

Highlights: Cariad, The Rose, Nearer My God To Thee, Caledonia, Prayer, Sora Wo Aruku

Siobhan Owen released her first album, Purely Celtic, in 2008 at the age of fourteen.  As the title suggests, Owen had a keen interest in Celtic music and it has run through all of her albums since then.  Storybook Journey is her fourth album; conceived, recorded and released at the turn of adulthood.  Now eighteen, Owen has not abandoned her passion for Celtic music, but she has broadened her repertoire by integrating her first love with classical crossover, marrying the two genres more cohesively and intimately than any artist has ever done before.

Based on the concept of taking the listener on a narrative journey, each song tells a tale of the traditional kind encompassing "love, war, loss, prayers and dreams".  The track list consists of traditional songs of Celtic origin (many unusual) but also holds some surprises in a Japanese version of 'Walking in the Air' (Sora Wo Aruku) and a cover of Secret Garden's 'Prayer'.  Highlights include the highly emotive 'Nearer My God To Thee' (recorded in respect of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic), the uplifting 'Caledonia' and the quirky 'Fields of St Etienne'.  Highlights aside, all the songs have something to offer, mainly due to the pure and ever-growing versatility of Owen's vocals.

The album's opener, 'Cariad', wastes no time in introducing Owen's clarity and precision.  She has always given a Celtic flavour in her vocal delivery, but this time round, she has mixed it with a more classical technique, calling Westenra to mind.  Combining the two, she has created her own vocal style, further setting her apart from her contemporaries and freshening up her material.

As well as her vocals, Owen has also taken a slight departure from the arrangements of her previous albums.  Throughout her career Owen has centred her performances, and recordings, on her harp.  As if to give another example that Owen is comfortable with her identity, growing and evolving, but not changing or catering to anyone, the harp is still an important part of Storybook Journey; but it's not the only instrument carrying the album.  Quentin Eyers offers up his talents, providing the album with a slick but subtle (listen out for the bird song in 'Dream a Dream') set of arrangements and instrumentation.  There are more instruments than ever but they do not overpower; in fact, they simply enhance and highlight the true partnership of Owen's voice and her harp.

This disc is a pitch perfect product; its image, song selection, song order, vocal performance, arrangements, production, title and art work all complement one another to create a flawless musical narration.  Storybook Journey delivers what its title promises, showcasing Owen's maturity and declaring her a truly creative artist.  If you enjoy concept albums like Sarah Brightman's La Luna or Emma Shapplin's Etterna, you'll struggle not to appreciate Owen's latest effort.

Track List
1. Cariad
2. Scarborough Fair
3. The Rose
4. A Ei Di'r Deryn Du
5. Walking in the Air
6. Fields of St Etienne
7. Llangollen Market
8. Siúil A Rún
9. Bring Him Home
10. Black Is the Colour
11. Nearer My God To Thee
12. Dream a Dream
13. Caledonia
14. Calon Lán
15. Prayer
16. Sora Wo Aruku
17. Storybook Journey


#10 Richard Megowan 2012-12-03 18:50
As usual Siobhan's new offering is excellent. Not what I usually listen to but how could you not listen to her incredible talent? I have her other albums too and this will always get into my IPOD playlist.
#9 Gary Stevens 2012-09-24 19:00
All I can really say is that Siobhan's album has rapidly climbed to my album of the year slot. A superb selection of songs delivered as only Siobhan can, with a wonderful but not over-blown production.
#8 Moira Hendry 2012-09-22 10:20
So True - and this album is so beautiful - I just love listening to it - again and again and again
I totally agree with everything that you have said Nicola.
#7 Martin Dixon 2012-09-21 19:28
This is a fantastic album, up there with the best. And as an indie album.. well what an achievement. Siobhan is an incredible talent, and this album is by far the best album I have heard this year. It has character, originality, even though the songs are often well known, and considerable beauty. Even Prayer, which I expected to disappoint, isn't far behind Hayley's definitive version, in fact it is almost a carbon copy. So yes, five stars in all categories.
#6 bernie 2012-09-21 16:02
Such a wonderful and well deserved review for a now emerged artist of the highest quality.The present and future are both very bright for this personable young lady.
#5 Kim Lariviere 2012-09-21 15:58
Such an incredible artist. After listening to her on Ken's show last night I have even more respect for her. Her talent is way beyond her years. Love from Kim in Canada
#4 Joe Merkt 2012-09-21 15:10
Storybook Journey is a delight from beginning to end. Siobhan's pure, crystalline soprano adds a new element to songs like Bring Him Home and The Rose. Cariad is lovely as is the Japanese version of Walking in the Air (Sora Wo Aruku. A masterpice!
#3 Ross Walkham 2012-09-21 10:12
Excellent review. I absolutely love this album.
#2 Simon 2012-09-21 07:10
I totally agree with everything that you have said Nicola. It's superb and puts many albums from huge record companies with massive budgets to shame.
#1 Sheila Owen 2012-09-21 01:59
Wow! Nic, a fantastic review! Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this. You have reduced me to tears once again (your first gushings in a personal message also did that!). Siobhan will be overjoyed when she sees it. xx

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