JWR Articles: CD - To Dream (Featured performer: Cynthia Dale) - August 5, 2003
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To Dream

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Recorded at Inception Sound Studios, Toronto (2002)
Dream in progress

Cynthia Dale’s début CD is an impressive collection of lyrical show tunes and songs that abound in emotion, feeling and love. Hearing them through my studio speakers and then live (part of the Jackson-Triggs’ “Twilight in the Vineyard” series) in the same week gave me the rare opportunity of comparing many of the same cuts between the two production methods.

Cynthia Dale … to dream features Laura Burton at the piano for all but one of its thirteen tracks. She brings a steady hand and admirable understatement to the thoughtful arrangements but seems more content to follow Dale than collaboratively drive the music forward. Notably in “On the Street Where You Live,” the introduction has so many disjointed parts that the street is more under construction than secure in its path.

Richard Ouzounian/Marek Norman’s CANCON contribution (“Let the Night Begin” from Dracula a Chamber Musical) is an entirely different story and is worth the purchase price alone. Dale’s dramatic, intriguingly mysterious rendition oozes with talent and style. “Let my master thrive,” indeed. Not even the unintentional quote from Bizet’s L’Arlésienne Suite in the closing measures will put anyone off this terrific offering.

The CD’s overall sound is clean and crisp and easily captures Dale’s incredibly fine diction. But the somewhat excessive reverb and the very close microphone placements combine to produce more of what the performers would hear from on-stage monitors than what an audience might experience. This difference was driven home at the Niagara performance where the mix was much better and the songs not nearly as stilted as some of their digital counterparts.

Another huge difference from the CD was having Rick Fox take on the role of accompanist and musical collaborator extraordinaire. His sole contribution to the CD (“I Wanna Be Loved”) is easily the best of the bunch and another must-have track. The chemistry with Dale is evident immediately, resulting in real ensemble (they breathe as one) and a forward momentum that enables Dale to push and pull at will, without ever losing the line. Fox also adds extra colour by using all registers, dynamics and fascinating inner voices. Much more, please!

During the live performance the level improved to the final encore. Both artists relaxed with the enthusiastic crowd and the hills were truly alive—the fire flies lit up the trees and the bull frogs couldn’t help but sing along.

Dale’s voice is attractive and sweet but would benefit from a tad slower vibrato and developing the ability to finish her top, sustained pitches with more support from the diaphragm than the throat. With so many pieces in place—not least of which is her commitment and passion—the next CD will be awaited with high hopes; perhaps the recording studio will be abandoned for live venues where the spark from her fans will inspire something even beyond dreams. JWR

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Featured performer - Cynthia Dale
Piano - Rick Fox
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