C. Ryono | Portland, OR United States | 05/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Lavender Diamond has hypnotized me. I'm under their spell. Becky Stark's voice (with its classical roots) is transporting and ethereal, delicate without sacrificing its potency and confidence. There are songs on this CD ("Garden Rose", "Like an Arrow") that could accompany meditation. Indeed, the songs FEEL like meditation. Cynicism and apathy, pass by. The album's themes range from the optimistic and hopeful to the melancholic and hesitant. I find myself relating to both sentiments with equal verve. "When will I love again?" Stark repeats in the heartwrenchingly challenging song "Oh No" that opens the album, and wondering when and how a broken heart will heal is certainly an idea that everyone can relate to during their lives. (This beginning of this song left me breathless. "What a way to begin an album!" is what I thought, immediately wanting to hear more.) Even if your heart is now whole, it's not hard to put yourself back in that place, just as when you listen to a love song, it's not hard to remember when you were in love. "Open Your Heart" isn't exactly a love song, but with its cheerful tone and playful strings, 'oh oh oh' refrains, and handclaps, it feels like it should be in the background while you run across a field holding hands with someone. Other reviews have compared their sound to singers from the 1960's and 70's, and that is definitely true, although that is not to downplay their unique style and execution. The messages of love, love lost, and hope in this album are unlike anything I've ever heard before, and I subscribe to all of them.
Postscript/anecdote: there's a bit of serendipity in play here as well. I saw a Lavender Diamond show advertised in a Portland alt-weekly newspaper, described there as "winsome folk-pop." The description caught my eye and I made a note to investigate them. I later bought their album on this whim, and a few weeks after that, by some cosmic coincidence, Becky Stark, solo and acoustic, opened for a reading by author/filmmaker/artist Miranda July in a church in downtown Portland with a eerily beautiful three-song set. I'd been looking forward to July's book ever since I saw "Me, You and Everyone We Know" and it was suddenly felt like we had friends in common."
Imagine my love
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 06/27/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you said that Lavender Diamond sounds like a sparkly, ubersweet little band who plays hopeful pop.... you'd be right.
Fortunately the Angeleno band aren't just restricted in that. Their debut album "Imagine Our Love" is G-rated chamberpop, sure. But it's wrapped in a warm blanket of exquisitely pretty instrumentation, beautiful vocals and a feeling of wistful hope.
Gentle drum and bells segue into an anthemic piano melody, with Becky Stark wistfully crooning, "Oh no, it's such a sad and grey day out/when will I love again?... Oh no, we are turning as we go/into a world of stone..." Not only is it a mournful cry for personal love, but apparently tackling the loveless world outside.
"Garden Rose," on the other hand, fully embraces the chamberfolk description -- weepy strings painted over a gentle acoustic guitar. "I'll never stop a bullet/but a bullet might stop me/I'll never drink the ocean/but the ocean might drink me..."
Then in an about-face, they go all chamberpop in the bouncy, chipper "Open Your Heart" ("Well the streets are low/when you have to go/where are you running to?"). The songs that follow tend to be somewhere in between -- gentle folk, wind-wispy pop, soaring delicate little ballads, and occasionally a thumpy little piano-rocker. The only real misfire is "Like An Arrow," an awkward tribal-thump pop song.
Normally I can only take a small amount of cheery, sunny happiness at once. So it's something of a tribute to "Imagine Our Love" that I can listen to the whole thing in one go -- it sounds like the crystalline little sister of Midlake.
It also staunchly avoids the typical trappings of pop-rock, like electric guitars and bass. Instead, we have some truly ethereal, weeping strings and trickling piano. Sometimes they're played on their own, and sometimes with an acoustic guitar to keep things from just floating away.
And Stark really makes the songs shine by pouring her clear, sweet vocals through them like rays of sun. What's the problem, then? Well, the songs she sings tend to be rather simplistic (see "I'll Never Lie Again," repeated ad nauseam), though they show flickers of songwriting skill. ("You can see this road is forever/so let's dance without any fear..."
Though hampered by their simplistic lyrics, Lavender Diamond excels in every other way in "Imagine Our Love." If they wrote more complex songs, it would be perfect."
Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeet melody and melancholy
Joseph Broze | chicago | 06/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Great folk-rock here folks. They are influences from Fairport Convention (Sandy Denny-era), Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, etc. Becky Stark has a great voice...though I think it's a stretch for anyone to compare her to the one of the greatest voices in human history, Shirley Collins.
Overall, this LP is very listenable all the way through. It brings to mind current folk-rock revivalists like Meg Baird and the Espers (not as good though). Regardless, it's quite solid and worthy of your time, effort, and purchase. CHEERS!!!!!!!!!!!!"
A good listen, not as good as their EP
Vegan Mama | Denver, CO | 04/25/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was let down at first by the change in their sound since their EP, "Cavalry of Light." Cavalry of Light is full of the most beautiful and powerful melodies and it's only 4 songs, while "Imagine our Love" goes for a much more subtle sound. Her voice is still one hundred percent beautiful, and after a few listens you realize that although it's not really the same as their EP, it's good in its own right.
I DO hope that when they come out with another CD, they bring back some of the power/beauty of their EP's choruses."
No studio trickery for these pipes!
Kevin M. Fries | Texas | 09/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw the band a few days ago and while they need a little more edge to the lyrics, her voice just overwhelms the listener. Becky just blew everyone away and the best part is that she doesn't need overdubs, studio or electronic tricks to do it. The record expands on their (sadly abbreviated due to the headliner and opening act that preceded them) live show. She's such a breath of fresh air on stage that she didn't leave a sad face in the audience.
If you get a chance, go see them. If not, grab this record and try to imagine what you're missing. If you see them, you'll want this record anyway."