Light From A Distant Shore - Hollie Smith

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Vocalist Hollie Smith may be only sixteen, but her gifts have already attracted the attention of Steve McDonald, whose contributions to this album -- as composer and performer -- create the perfect setting for Smith's full-yet-airy and innocent-yet-wise voice. Unlike so many new age singers who use their instruments only to vocalise, Smith and McDonald do everything they can to deliver a song's meaning. The most moving songs on LIGHT FROM A DISTANT SHORE are about lost love and ebbing life. In the traditional "Fields of Athenry," a young wife sings to her husband as he departs on a prison ship, while in McDonald's "Fallen Flowers," a mother and her dying son reunite for a final farewell on the field of battle. (The latter tune had me in tears; I'm not quite sure how they were able to sing it all the way through without breaking down.) Another track that makes the repeat button worthwhile is the somber and haunting "A Lover's Tale," in which a girl shares the hard lessons learned from her first affair. McDonald's voice -- whether heard solo on "Fallen Flowers" or as backup -- is rich, dramatic, and emotional. These two musicians clearly love to tell stories, and you'll want to hear them again and again. This is an excellent debut by an exciting young talent.