Katarzyna NINa Górnisiewicz
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13 Shadows - 13 Shadows |self-released, 2012|
01. Belong, 02. Broken, 03. Descend, 04. Energy, 05. Erase U, 06. Kamera, 07. Out of Phase, 08. 7 Years, 09. Slide, 10. Tangle of Thorns
13 Shadows is a musical project ran by singer/songwriter, pianist, guitarist and producer Denise Donahue. The New Yorker wrote, arranged and co-produced all the songs on the eponymous debut album released in 2012. The album shouldn't come unnoticed since at least 80% of the songs have hit potential thanks to fantasy moods, catchy hooks, guitar and piano driven arrangements as well as clear, sweet yet cold vocals of Denise.
The ten songs tracklist begins with "Belong", characterized by groovy dynamics reminiscent of Tool, but also the melodies of A Perfect Circle and the piercing clarity of Evanescence with traces of auto-tune in the vocals. The mysterious "Broken" comes next, with piano and vocals playing an important part throughout the entire track. It’s a radio-friendly song, since it carries a repetitive, love-orientated theme.
When it comes to "Descend", the composition is quite flexible, mostly adjusted to the vocals which play a role as major as the piano here. The song has an epic feel thanks to its slow tempo and spots of rising tension. Therefore, listening to "Descend" is as pleasurable as watching a calm ocean tide lick the sand off a shore.
Peachy bass, lively dynamics and a sugary melody are the major traits of "Energy". The track includes a few significant changes in tempo, keeping the listener focused. Add a few aggressive, chunky metal tunes of a rhythm guitar and bass collaborating with vocals and you get lots of hit potential.
"Erase U" comes in with its appealing, melodic, lyrical alt-rock features, where individual instrumental and vocal arrangements are as important as the entire composition. Again, bass and drums add a lot of dynamics to the song but they don't sound overwhelming as the composition is cut with delicate piano parts too. Another potential big hit.
An intriguing dreamy mood with a lead piano in the beginning of "Kamera" turns into a dynamic ride supported by a groovy bass, edgy guitars and well matched drums. In addition, Denise's sweet vocals may make many male hearts tremble. An extra helping of electronica creates a unique airy and positive atmosphere. The vibe eventually returns to its previous softness towards the end of the track. "Kamera" could be a great illustrative piece for cinema or advertising.
"Out of Phase", on the other hand, sounds less dynamic than the other songs on 13 Shadows
. Not only does it include skillfully crafted lyrics fitting the music really well, but also verses that are perfectly integrated with choruses.
"7 Years" is the most promoted song of the album. The music video has earnt several thousand views on YouTube so far. The chorus wrapped in chunky guitar riffs is so catchy you’ll either love it or hate it with a passion. "7 Years" may be difficult to get out of your head for quite some time.
"Slide" begins with a cinematic intro but then brings the 80s gothic rock feel thanks to a buzzing guitar. Some elements of techno appear here as well, so the gothic vibe is eventually lost, but the song remains guitar driven and is additionally enriched with memorable choruses.
"Tangle of Thorns" provides an interesting bass line, soft sounding vocals and guitar driven motifs sustained with piano tunes. An overall sentimental mood befits the song that’s ending the tracklist.
The compositional structures on 13 Shadows
are extremely well put together. When you add a fair share of instrumental arrangements and high quality production, you get a truly brilliant release with a magical atmosphere and groovy dynamics. The lyrics are an asset as well - not only do they match the music but carry a greater meaning, most often referring to the subject matter of love.
Denise's vocals (with additional voice effects) don't sound unique when compared to major alt-rock bands led by female singers but they are memorable nevertheless. Denise says she prefers to focus on composing rather than singing. She's probably best at creating moods that effectively interact with listeners’ senses and imagination. Everything on the record sounds absolutely professional, and the sound is definitely modern. The smart use of electronica does not diminish the organic vibe but covers the album’s soundscape with a strong nimbus of fantasy.
Bring 13 Shadows to MTV, Vevo or any other significant music outlets, as this project needs larger exposure, so that headhunters from major labels can give it a spin. I can hear undoubted potential of 13 Shadows and it'd be totally unfair if the band didn't get a shot at fame in the next few years.
(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, August 31st, 2013. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)
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