articles novelsshort stories nonfictionpoetry upcoming events

Michelle Tumes - Listen

Review by Paul M. Carhart
Originally published in The Lighthouse Electronic Magazine (TLeM)

From the opening strains of the title track of this album, the music itself states that Michelle Tumes is a pianist. Classically trained in her native Australia, it is of little surprise that the first song has a percussive throb to it, textured with piano, orchestration and a choir of voices that blend seamlessly together, all of which seem to belong to Michelle Tumes. Indeed, Listen has that epic feeling that one gets when going to see Handel's Messiah or an Andrew Lloyd Webber play.

Tumes' voice is smooth and endearing, laced with her Australian accent and sometimes having a whispering effect. Not too sweet and lacking in vibrato, Tumes seems to soar over the lush arrangements like a bird through the airstream in "Healing Waters," "Feel," and "Rest My Soul." At times, Tumes' melodies are reminiscent of Sting ("Heaven Will Be Near Me," "My Constant One"). At other times, the music and her voice seem to take on a more Celtic style ("Christ Of Hope," "Rest My Soul") which brings to mind the likes of Enya. Despite Tumes' prowess on the piano, this is very much a pop album, displaying many of the standard pop sensibilities common to a Charlie Peacock production—including a wide array of vocal effects to enhance Tumes' wispy dry voice. Make no mistake, Listen is an extremely fresh album, blending many different musical styles and weaving melodies, harmonies and orchestration with apparent ease. Only once does the album take a break to showcase the live recording of Tumes and her piano on the autobiographical "Life Is Beautiful."

Notable guest artists and highlights on Listen include Charlie Peacock contributing his distinctive background vocals on "Healing Waters" and Chris Eaton's dreamy background vocals on "Untame Lion," which he co-wrote with Tumes and was inspired by the character of Aslan from C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia.

Her excellent debut performances aside, it should be mentioned that Tumes wrote or co-wrote every track on the album. After cutting her writing teeth writing for others (she co-wrote "If This World" on Jaci Velasquez's Heavenly Place), Tumes seems to be at home crafting her set of peaceful passages which should appeal to fans of Out Of The Grey, Iona, and Sting.

For those who don't like to try out new artists because they aren't sure if they'll be pleased, take this album's title as a bit of good advice.


Related Information

For a year or so I was a CD reviewer for The Lighthouse Electronic Magazine (TLeM) where this review was originally published.

- Paul M. Carhart


  © 1998 Paul M. Carhart, all rights reserved, all media.