Lesley Rae Dowling's new album, State of Grace, is typical of her work - husky, deep voiced, and pretty to hear. Some would describe it as deeply feminine.
Unfortunately, State of Grace is also self obsessed and depressing - a musical diary that nobody's bothered to make entertaining for anyone who's not, well... Lesley.
On the positive front, the music is professionally produced, composed and executed. It's lushly instrumented. But unfortunately the performance lacks the restraint that creates true dramatic tension, and winds up being an unrelentingly overdramatic and often cringe inducing portrait of regret, anger, disillusionment, loss and fear.
State of Grace holds positive similarities to work by Tory Amos and other queens of pain, but the trembling and shaking vocals become exhausting after a few tracks. She takes herself so terribly seriously that it's hard to keep listening. Could she be aiming to speak for the pain of SA's female therapy-goers?
Perhaps that's a bigger target market than we realise. Lesley Rae Dowling still regularly performs live alongside hot talent like Arno Carstens. So she clearly reaches many fans on a deep and sustainable level. But if this is femininity, I'm off to drink beer, burp, maybe even fart, and certainly hide my feelings.- Jean Barker
WHAT OTHER CRITICS SAIDHighly recommended for fans of the strong and sensitive, well-crafted singer-songwriter canvases of Kate Bush, Tori Amos or Sarah McLachlan.- Musica
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