CD REVIEW: Heather Styka - Lifeboats for Atlantis
By Cyrus Rhodes - 12/27/2011 - 10:41 PM EST
Artist: Heather Styka
Album: Lifeboats for Atlantis
Label: Kite Stripe Records
Genre: Alternative Folk/Pop
Sounds Like: Lorena McKennett, Sara McLaughlin, Alannah Myles
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Commercial Value: 10/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Best Songs: Contented, Wind O’ Wind, My Father's Daughter
Chicago based singer-songwriter Heather Styka releases her latest CD entitled Lifeboats For Atlantis in 2011 (Kite Stripe Records). This is her second release to date. This latest release features Stryka (Vocals and Guitar) and she is backed up by an impressive lineup of session players.
The CD gently takes flight with “My Father’s Daughter” a smooth intro groove that serves up an inviting vocal groove against impressive fretwork, smooth as silk rhythm section and mesmerizing vocal delivery from Styka. Track 2 “Contented” presents a slow moving piece that serves up a methodical musical build with a passionate melodic delivery with heartfelt vocals from Styka that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. Track 3 “Tightrope Walker” delivers an upbeat melody with impressive strings, thought provoking lyrical content and hypnotic vocals. The production quality is impressive and the musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. Along the way you will notice an array of instrumentation with things like cello, upright bass, dobro, violin, accordion, percussive accents built upon a solid rhythm section foundation. Song for song the combination of Styka's voice and earthy fretwork is masterful. Now turning our attention over to Styka - as for her vocal abilities - she is quite impressive. Her vocal style is cut from the cloth of Sara McLaughlin, Suzanne Vega and even Alannah Myles. It definitely works well within the confines of this catalogue. Stryka impressive vibrato, falsetto and overall vocal passion clearly showcases a strong and confident vocal ability. I especially like how her voice just sort of flows and ebbs melodically with the music. This is an amazing quality that not many artists can execute. This X-Factor quality clearly makes Stryka a marquee talent. No doubt she has solid musical instincts behind the microphone. This CD from Styka delivers 14 compelling tracks all providing an interesting snapshot of an amazing artist with thought provoking lyrical wisdom with messages that are positive, passionate and extremely captivating. From striking “Lucy and Sarah” and “Everywhere the Longing” to heartfelt “Dragon Kite” and “Atlantis” to upbeat “Glory Hallelu” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with track 14 “Sparrow Can Learn” the perfect wrap for a catalogue like this
It’s hard to find serious weakness with this production. I will offer up 2 recommendations. For future releases perhaps incorporate more vocal harmonies into the mix. 2 - don't be afraid to put drums and percussion even in some of you slower pieces.
I like everything about Heather Styka. She's truly an infectious artist that possess a "Gold Standard" - look, sound, appeal, talent and vocal presence. She also is an impressive songwriter, guitarist and pianist. From start to finish “Lifeboats for Atlantis” is an impressive catalogue of music. The music is warm and earthy, highly passionate, uplifting and very passionate. The pin drop moments are amazing, and her falsetto is to die for. The songwriting is an interesting snapshot of music from a clairvoyant artist that has quite a lot to offer. All songs are consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair and signature groove. Note for note, song for song this catalogue is extremely consistent and fills the space with what I would describe as peaceful earthy exuberance.
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