Boasting big, bold pop production that suggests the anthemic-but-personable sound of Natalie Imbruglia, Siren bursts out of the speakers with a giddy rush of emotion. But Heather Nova's not one to wail stridently like some Alanis-come-lately; instead she favors a breathy, delicate style that's nevertheless strong enough to ride comfortably atop the layers of acoustic and electric guitars. (In fact, it's Nova's own guitar that's at the heart of most of the arrangements here.) Throughout Siren, Nova utilizing an intriguing catch in her voice, and ultimately, it's Nova's unique vocal style and winning pop sensibilities that make Siren work as well as it does, doing double duty as substantive singer/songwriter statement and perfect pop-radio product.
There are quite a few French Baroque ballet and opera samplers on the market, perhaps because theses repertories, with their arcane textual and musical conventions and their unfamiliar genres, are thought to be rather inaccessible for general listeners in complete works or large chunks of them. The reconstructions of William Christie and others, including this disc's conductor, Sigiswald Kuijken, have shown that equal parts of imagination and musicality can go a long way toward making the operas of the French Baroque come alive, and the repertoires of virtuoso singers are beginning to reflect this.