I believe I speak for reviewers everywhere when I say that we love it when an artist makes it this easy. Call it “love at first listen”—that quality that certain recordings possess that causes them to pop right out of the stack.

Personally, and I have said this many times, it has everything to do with production and knowing how to critically listen and judge your own work. Without a solid, professional, sound, even the best-written material will never make it to a reviewer’s ears, let alone a radio playlist. So that’s the first thing that caught my attention on this new CD by Celeste Starchild (As Zappa as it sounds, that is her real moniker).

The second thing is her voice, smooth, yet very, very powerful. So much so that she’s not the least bit challenged by a background that includes some face melting electric guitar work. She speeds through fast phrases with high intelligibility, negotiating tempo changes like a Formula 1 driver tightening it down for a corner. On the ballads and bluesier tunes, she adds a sweet edge to her voice that just puts it over the top. Lastly, her writing illustrates a real independent, dare I say “rebel,” streak. She’s certainly not one to wait out a bad situation, she rather deal with it and move on. There’s some pain and loss but that is what makes XOC consistently interesting, track after track. Celeste balances her singing career with her “day job” as VP of Broker Sales for Threewide Corporation, a developer of software solutions for the real estate industry. -RAL 

Originally posted 2009-04-23 19:30:19.