Monday, December 14, 2015

Tina Arena "Eleven" : Album Review

A woman who, in my opinion, has without question one of the finest voices in the industry, has finally been recognized by the ARIA's & has recently been inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. I'm speaking of the supremely talented, Tina Arena. And now that I've had several weeks to really listen to and absorb her latest musical offering, entitled "Eleven", I'm beyond convinced that she is the woman of my dreams, musically speaking of course. The dynamics & clarity of her voice will stop you in your tracks. She delivers powerful lyrics so expertly that you can't help but listen with intent & notice the stories within these songs. Tina is a true storyteller. 

Themes of love are ubiquitous in thousands upon thousands of songs, and it is expected that many artists will sing about love at a certain point. But how many artists would even dare to tackle a subject like domestic violence? Tina carries her message with such care, such encouragement & respect for the victim that there can be no doubt the track entitled "When You're Ready" will be there to quietly support, from the sidelines, someone in need. I simply cannot count the number of times I've turned to music to cope with a difficult moment of my life, & I can only imagine the number of people that this one song alone will help. It is quite a brave step, but one which Tina has carefully & respectfully taken. Mind you, she has previously shown her ability to speak out on subject matter that most artists would wilfully hide from, like when she sung of the bombings in Baghdad, with her highly acclaimed French language song "Je M'appelle Baghdad" in 2006. 

This album has so many great songs, that to name them all here would take up too much room. "Overload" is a really fun & fantastic track, which is catchy as hell, that heralds back to the 90s upbeat pop/rock that she was so famous for back then. It will be sure to get you singing along at the top of your lungs in the car, as I did, & I really didn't care when I got busted at the traffic lights for rockin' out with my girl Tina! (Geez, it was funny though!). "Magic" is a disco styled track & a bit of a nod to Nile Rogers, who co-wrote/produced "Soul Mate #9" in 2001. There really is so much insight into who Tina is as a person, if you’re willing to pay attention to the lyrics, but if you’re more of a casual listener, you’ll be treated to beautiful phrasing, memorable melodies & stunning harmonies. There are several collaborators on this album, most notably Jon Hume, the lead singer of Evermore. Together they have produced some of the strongest tracks on this album & their harmonies in “When You’re Ready” are some of the nicest I’ve heard in a while - “Hey now” indeed. This songwriting pairing is definitely a winning combination. My favourite lyrics from the album is when Tina sings, “People listen when I speak, that’s something that you never did” - so subtle & yet so powerful. Bloody brilliant.

Tina really has had an amazing career of almost forty years. The highs and lows of the music industry hasn't tarnished her, but has granted her many life lessons which she passes on through her songs. She is such a layered and interesting woman, one I've admired for many years. And just quietly, she is an artist who I would love to write songs with at one point in my life. Actually, I'd also love to hear Tina turn her talents to create instrumental music because she has such a gift for melody, harmonics and phrasing. I know she only considers herself as someone who "tinkers" on the piano, but I think she'd be great at composing instrumental pieces. So, Tina, if you're reading this, please reach out to me because I would love to collaborate on some instrumental music with you. (Yeah, that sounded pretty cheesy, I know.... but you can't blame me for trying!). 

Finally, it has to be mentioned that during her acceptance speech as she was inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame, Tina made reference to the inequality of woman in the music industry & particularly how women over 40 are underrated & don't deserve to be. There are many amazing women who I’ve loved, adored & followed for decades, including Tina & quite frankly, I don't give a shit about their age. They continue to offer a lot to their audiences & absolutely deserve our respect & admiration. When you’re as good as Tina Arena, there will always be people like me who adore her & will always listen to her music. As biased as that last sentence may seem, “Eleven” really is a great album & definitely well worth listening to, over & over. 

Don't forget, music matters!! 

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