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I first heard of Diane Birch when she performed on "Later with Jools Holland". I was instantly impressed and searched online to find out more about this new artist. The story I found was one of religion and moving around the world. The Michigan born Diane Birch was the daughter of a Seventh-day Adventist preacher whose work took him to several countries around the world with spells in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Australia. When she was ten the family returned to America and settled in Portland, Oregon.
Growing up she wasn't allowed to listen to "secular music" and she grew up listening to opera, classical music and church music and hymns. She later moved to Los Angeles as a Pianist for hire and had the incredible opportunity to play for Prince when he saw her performing at The Polo Lounge in 2006. She then moved between London and New York until she had her big break in May 2009 when she released her debut album "Bible Belt"
This album had been in the pipeline since she started writing for the album in 2007. She record the album with her Her backing band which consists of Jay Foote on bass, vocals and tambourine, Eric Bloom on trumpet, flugelhorn and backing vocals, and Alex Foote on guitars and backing vocals. Since the release on 19th May 2009 she has received critical acclaim from some very respected names in the Music Industry gaining several celebrity fans in the process.
1.) Fire Escape
This is a fantastic opening track, It is a lovely soulful ballad which features some fine backing vocals. This has a wonderful Piano Blues feel and is about wanting to get away from a situation. I love the way this track combines old school Soul with an up to date feel bring the music into a new kind of freshness. This is one of the best tracks on the album and a fine start.
This is a track of real pep, It's a delighful pop/jazz combo which works superbly well here. This track is about the idea of an imaginary friend when she performed on the Piano at Hotels in New York thinking that nobody was watching or listening to her perform. She performed this one on Later with Jools Holland and I really liked the mix between this style and "Fools" which she also performed.
This is one of my favourite songs at the moment, It's a lovely piano ballad with a great punchy beat and some fine backing in the horn section. This track was about her time in Los Angeles where she kept hearing conflicting views of what she should do and whether she could make it as an artist. This track shows her talent for bringing the music all together and her vocals are also very good indeed.
4.) Nothing but A miracle
This is another one of my favourite songs at the moment, It's another fine ballad. This track moves along quite brilliantly and showcases her fine vocals. The story of this song is about a broken relationship where it seems like only a miracle can get things back on track. I love the simplicity and yet emotion of the lyrics in a way that reminds me of Regina Spektor. Diane's vocals are superb on this one.
This is a beautiful track, It opens with a simple yet lovely piano part, Diane's vocals come in and once the song has progressed it is a joy to listen to. This track has a lovely progression, The subject of the song is about when you feel things are just too much and you wish that you had a rewind button to go back and change things. This is an emotion everyone has and one that Diane Birch has superbly covered here.
6.) Rise Up
This track has a New Orleans Jazz feel to it, The lovely piano is backed by a catchy drum beat and Diane's vocals are laid back and emotive. This track is about rising up and feeling good about yourself and life. Her voice harks back to Soul and Jazz singers of the past in a fine compliment to her own vocals. Great track.
This track is a brilliant track which again shows the wonderful mixture of old school soul and a new style in her voice. This track is about looking at a Photograph and the memories coming back from that time. This is of course a very human emotion and she covers this superbly. This is another fantastic track. A really beautiful track which is topped off with a wonderful Gospel part towards the end.
8.) Don't wait up
On this song Diane Birch mentions her teenage years when she was a bit of a Goth and the scene when she would come home to her shocked father would be waiting up for her reading the Bible. Quite a strict upbringing. I love the way the Music develops on this track. This track has another Gospel feel which is different to the one from the previous track.
9.) Mirror, Mirror
This is another very good track indeed, It's about looking at yourself inside and discovering yourself as a person. I love the way this track progresses and although it may not be as instant as some of the others you should listen to it through and I'm sure you will like it as much as I do if you like the album. A very good track.
This has been likened musically to early Elton John and I agree with that statement. Diane also puts her stamp on this track which shows that s style of Music can always be brought to life again in a different way and still have the same potency. This is a wonderful track and the compliment should not be lost.
11.) Choo, Choo
This is a slightly country tinged track about growing up with her parents. "Thought I was on my way to heaven/Seems I'm riding the train straight to hell". I feel that this track has elements of Sweet Home Alabama style Lynyrd Skynyrd which I love about the track and the lovely gospel choir adds a completely unexpected touch. Birch shows off her fine piano playing with some great musical compliments. Brilliant up tempo track.
This is a brilliant Deep Soul track which just oozes emotion. This reminds me of Janis Joplin at her best and not the tragic Heroin soaked drunk which ruined her talent. This is a wonderful track. This is up there as a contender for best track on the album and that is some praise. She shows off her fine voice, particularly her range.
13.) Magic View
This is a lovely end to what is a Brilliant album, Her voice is superb with the gentle piano accompaniment. This could be the perfect track to end on, A wonderfully emotive piano ballad with some excellent string accompaniment. This really is a beautiful end to the album and one hell of a track that should be listened to.
She may have had an abnormal upbringing but there is no doubting her talent for songwriting, singing and performing and arranging Music. There are some really amazing tracks on the album and that makes the job of finding the best one very hard. Let's just say that there are a few contenders that could be the best track on the album. Bible Belt is that good. This is arguably one of the best debut solo albums of the last five years.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Fire Escape
4 Nothing But A Miracle
6 Rise Up
8 Don't Wait Up
9 Mirror Mirror
11 Choo Choo
13 Magic View