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Michelle Stewart

Sands of Time

(Red Heart; US: 30 Dec 2012)

There are many reasons to like Michelle Stewart’s music. She pens lush, emotional lyrics while using simple vocabulary; she creates strong and clear melodies that come off as easy and straightforward even when taking twists and turns; and she writes songs full of heart. It is this last feature, Stewart’s heart, that distinguishes her from other artists. She comes off as deep and sweet, two elements that rarely combine except to form a sticky mess.


Stewart’s muse is more like that of a wounded bird that still takes flight. The pain is just one more thing to overcome. She’s dreaming about flying away before the sun rises, being a passenger in time, and traveling to a new place, and such, because no matter where she is or goes, she is already centered—or left of centered in that blood-pumping organ Stewart calls her “red, red heart”.


The album does have a few flaws. Stewart can be over-earnest in lieu of honesty. She tries too hard to achieve a transcendence that doesn’t seem earned—a fact exasperated by the cluttered production. The instruments, especially Stewart’s voice, need to be brighter and breathe more.


Still, the positives heavily outweigh the negatives. Sands of Time offers a personal look at the world through the eyes of a sensitive soul who performs from the heart.

Rating:

Steven Horowitz has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Iowa, where he continues to teach a three-credit online course on "Rock and Roll in America". He has written for many different popular and academic publications including American Music, Paste and the Icon. Horowitz is a firm believer in Paul Goodman's neofunctional perspective on culture and that Sam Cooke was right, a change is gonna come.


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