MP3 Gina French - Of Rapture
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11 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Modern Rock, BLUES: Acoustic Blues
The music of Gina French spans many genres, influences and emotions, but conforms to none. As a singer, songwriter and guitarist, the Salt Lake City native can't easily be tied to any restrictive label such as folk, rock, blues, pop, soul or alternative. All of these elements and more are apparent, but none define her.
French's latest album, Of Rapture, is the result of four years of intensive writing, studio work and simple blood, sweat and tears. As her core of fans waited eagerly for a follow-up to her critically acclaimed 1997 debut, Sacred Ground, French and her newly-assembled backing band refused to take the quick route, stretching the recording process out for as long as the songs demanded.
"It's true, I am a perfectionist," French says. "I tend to analyze things to death, and I have a hard time settling. There were financial reasons for the extended length as well, since I paid for this myself, but I was also not easily satisfied."
Of Rapture, lyrically and musically, is subtle shades darker and heavier than its predecessor. Electric instrumentation and full drums add a definitive live edge to songs like "Hard Way," "Break the Silence" and "Something About the Night," but French has no trouble raising goosebumps with just her voice and guitar on the haunting, bluesy "Only For You."
"With a band in the studio, it's more complicated laying down everybody's parts; playing and recording solo are much simpler," she says. "But, the benefit of a band is the fuller sound and the camaraderie. As a soloist, it gets kind of lonely and you can only answer to yourself."
Lighter moments like the lilting "Spring's Angel" and the Latin-pop-tinged "Spanish Lace" balance out the sensuous, atmospheric longing of "Unleash," and the album's impassioned title track is an epic crossover of rock abandon and Middle-Eastern melodies impossible not to absorb and remain unmoved by.
"The theme of 'Of Rapture' has to do with living a life of color as opposed to living one in black-and-white," French explains. "It's about total surrender through love or an ignited passion. As the rest of the songs for the album started to unfold, I discovered that most of them contained a similar theme of passion or were about what drives one's soul. Most of the time, people live in quiet desperation, never taking a chance with their intuitive sense of what fulfills them. It's safer, but in the end it's absolute misery." French also pulled in some inspiration for the title track from viewing the movie, "The English Patient". "I was so moved by the stunning visuals and the powerful poetic vision of that movie. Its silky sandscapes, primitive Turkish vocals, and poignant themes about love, loss, and hope, helped to plant a seed for my song, vocally and stylistically."
The new sonic and thematic depths may surprise fans of French's previous, folkier direction, but they shouldn't be put off by it. "Sacred Ground was a much more intimate album; stark and mainly a solo effort," she says. "I'm not really sure if any songs in this new collection would be considered 'folk.' I was very lucky to have an incredible band backing me up; the added accompaniment helped to dress my songs up in vibrant colors and broad textures. Of Rapture is definitely a rock and soul album. By soul, I mean there was a no-holds-barred attempt with each song ... I didn't hold back."
Even with Of Rapture finally complete and the rigors of promotion and performances (solo and with band) ahead, French isn't ready to rest creatively.
"I'm not sure where I'm musically headed in the future; I'll probably go down a different path and experiment again," French admits. "It's the only way for me to grow as an artist."
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