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Amanda Thorpe -- Mass (Cropduster 2001)
by Randy Krbechek

English emigre Amanda Thorpe checks in with her second album (and first full-length CD), Mass. Rooted in Thorpe's distinctive voice, the album is a pastiche of ambient textures and sounds.

Which is to say, Mass is not easy to describe. P.J. Harvey comes to mind, as does Sarah McLachlan. Yet the closest description is Kate St. John, the elegant reed player who has toured with Van Morrison. St. John's Indescribable Night is a fantastic treat, working with a rich orchestral background.

And so it is with Mass, which finds Thorpe working with 18 musicians to produce a contemporary sound that incorporates horns and strings ala the sweep of Pet Sounds.

No, Mass doesn't reach the level of that masterpiece. Yet there are any number of memorable, engaging songs: highlights include the dream pop of "High & Dry," the seductive late-night swing of "Better Left," and the driving acoustic rhythm of "Splinters."

Mass features a host of New York players, including Knox Chandler, Joe McGinty, Peter Stuart, Chris Flynn, Sean Seymour, and Tony Scherr.

Amanda comes from a background as a classically-trained musician, and started with the Wirebirds, a folk-rock quintet she co-founded shortly after moving to New York City in 1996. Thorpe has shared the stage with Barbara Brousal, which tells you something about her leanings - Brousal is a talented singer, whose Pose While It Pops deserved to be found.

Mass is an enchanting production, with continental stylings and contemporary NYC instrumentation.

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-- Randy Krbechek
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