Fading Shades (Review 2)

[Fading Shades Cover]

by Gavin Stok July 2 1995

Sandra's albums have never been my favourites. Her latest effort, Fading Shades continues to sound like a European pop-orientated album but with a more dance-orientated flavour. This can be attriubuted to Jens Gad doing the music on most of the tracks instead of Michael Cretu who has done it in the past.

Regardless of the slightly changed style of music, Sandra's voice has the same attributes it always has. Different, however, is the significantly increased amount of background vocals used - none of which are credited. I guess that most of them are the voice of Jens Gad. Literally every track also has some electric guitars to some degree or other - something of which Jens Gad can clearly be attributed to. In fact, I will go as far as to say that the next Enigma album, Enigma 3, will not only have Jens Gad involved, but will also involve electric guitars to a great extent.

My track-by-track rundown with a rating out of five asterisks goes as follows:

Fading Shades (Part I) [1'02"] **

The introduction to the album is instrumental and is fine until the effect where the volume is quickly changed from low to high (it's a trick a lot of people do on their home stereo by quickly turning the volume up and down). There's not really much to say about it except that it nicely leads into the first vocal track.

Nights in White Satin [3'34"] *****

My favourite track on the album, and her first single, Nights in White Satin has a nice feel about it, with Sandra's vocals sounding clear and strong. There's a nice blend of electric guitar and background vocals which gives the track an uplifting atmosphere without sounding too pop-orientated.

Son of a Time Machine [5'01"] ****

Having a nice underlying beat, this track has a catchy chorus and once again uses a great degree of background vocals and spots of electric guitars. It is a bit repetitive in the vocal department, but still has a nice overall sound to it.

Won't Run Away [4'14"] **

Her second single, Won't Run Away is a classic European pop sounding track where lyrics are continuously repeated, a sense of urgency is shown by an increased key change towards the end, and the samples are short and chirpy. I find it surprising that this was chosen as her second single, but perhaps Europeans will love this kind of track with it being released in summer.

Tell Me More [3'15"] **

Another uplifting track with short and chirpy samples, this track is more listenable than Won't Run Away. It is, however, short on samples, and lacks any decent lyrics in the chorus. The background vocals are used well, but with the chorus sung a staggering six times for a three minute song, it doesn't have enough originality.

Will You Whisper [4'13"] *

I have never viewed Sandra as a fantastic singer. This song, a slow ballad, clearly confirms for me just how nasal and off-key she can sound when she is given the wrong song. I honestly cringe everytime I hear this track!

Invisible Shelter [5'20] ***

Starting very promisingly with Gad's instrumentation for the first minute and three-quarters, the track then redirects towards a beat and vocals. Unfortunately it is also at this stage that the track goes from one reminiscent of what Michael Cretu would be know for, to another more dance-orientation and pop-sounding track. More of a duet than anything, this track shows good reasoning why background vocals should have been credited.

You Are So Beautiful [4'38"] ****

Reminiscent of Son of a Time Machine, this track has a nice underlying beat, good use of guitars, and a catchy chorus. The normal background vocals formula applies (Sandra sings one or two lines, background vocalist sings one line) and due to the good instrumentation and catchiness of the chorus, it is worthy of being a single. The trick of adding a cheering group of people in the background towards the end of the song was effective.

I Need Love '95 [3'28] ***

Originally on the Close to Seven album, this version of the track still uses all the samples from the original, but also adds some more. Cretu plays around with Sandra's voice to good effect, and makes the beat more electric guitar driven. Overall the track is not drastically different to the original, but gives it more of a technological sound through the vocal effects, and more of a rock sound through the use of the electric guitar.

First Lullaby [4'20"] *****

Clearly written for the twins Michael & Sandra had in July 1995, the track makes great use of samples, notably through the soft choir voices in the background, and samples normally associated with fairytales. The melody of the chorus is extremely catchy and the lyrics are intimate and personal to people who are aware of whom the track is written for. The track becomes more climatic towards the end through the use of the choir becoming louder which is extremely effective. Overall, a track which puts across a great atmosphere and intimacy - it is worthy of being a single.

Fading Shades (Part II) [1'06"] **

This track is nicely blended into at the end of First Lullaby and as for Fading Shades (Part I) sounds fine except for the sound effect where the volume is quickly raised and lowered.

Overall, Fading Shades is an album which Sandra fans will enjoy to a lesser extent than her previous albums, and which people who haven't previosly heard her albums will only like for a few tracks.

Thanks to Mambo Musik for providing this CD for review.


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