I decided to put these two albums together as they are sharing a lot and it does make sense to me to write about together. I know Magdalena and all the recordings with her regular trio, but those two duo recordings, with an occasional help of the few quest musicians friends. I never heard Shane’s before but it only makes things more interesting.
Here we got two CDs containing seventy percent of the same material on both, however 1st is purely instrumental approach, on second Magdalena is also singing . Material sports some originals from both artists as well as some traditional tunes ,which had been re-worked and re- arranged, like Bossa Romanza or Scarborough Fair.
Duet of the guitarist and harpist /vocalist seems to be a good place to start. Formula of using two string instruments in dialogue determines arrangements as well as forces both musicians to keeping specific discipline. Duo recordings always had been most demanding. There is no place to hide – once you are there- you are there. Hence I found artist choices to be very interesting.
Both instruments are harmonically very close that it could turn duet into monologue if special attention wouldn’t be cared. And that’s probably why they decided to rely rather on instrument’s specific articulation than arrangements focused on melodic choruses.
This is a land of gentleness and as a harp naturally belongs there it had been given leading voice on most of the tracks, with respectful and sensitive guitar accompaniment. That keeps the counterpointing harp’s voice in order and never goes louder that is needed to underline the phrase.
That’s perfect choice of music if you like to calm down, relax and listen to your own thoughts.
Turning into vocal disc changes all the things. Ballads like Calling Out or Won’t You Stay still remains charming and cuddling you gently but Magdalena’s narrative vocalise, half sung half whispered puts completely different spell over the listener. Charm remains, but accents had changed. Focus of the tune is on lyrics now. Guitar takes over delivering decent accompaniment. Harp is used now more for adding some fragile passages to decorate the phrase. Where it was leading before, now the voice took over.
Following Beauty also present on the duo disc got an interesting make over with vocalist’s voice dubbed into the choir with herself. Just for this Moment, the moody blues with a quest sax and violin appearance is more like vocalist I know, telling story like someone who knows already few things about love.
But still lack of regular piano trio I am usually listening to her with changes to the headline. Shane’s approach makes it more Latin and Bossa , less Cabaret like. Also Magda’s Harp loses here its folk-ish spirit that is usually present when she is playing her alone. That makes an interesting comparison with the music of the artist I know well and showing versatility and new face but thanks to the muses all the good things are not being lost or forgotten.
That makes both CDs a good introductory into the artist’s universe and I am pretty convinced that those who will taste it will be looking for more.