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CD REVIEW: Aeolian May - 'Port Of Embarkation'
By Steve Allat - 01/20/2004 - 08:55 PM EST

Artist: Aeolian May
Album: 'Port Of Embarkation'
CD Review: Label: Independent
Tracks: 11
Released: 2003
For Fans Of:: Sarah McLachlin
Fav Track: Alexandria, Lost Cause, Remains of the Day.

Aeolian May is James Durham and Danan Healy, with featured guitarist Matt Ellison. James brings to this project 5 years of song crafting, which culminates in the recording of the CD, having finally found the voice for his songs in the person of Danan.

The first thing I had to notice about this CD was the beautiful packaging and presentation, which allowed me to get excited about what beautiful sounds may reside within. For the most part, I wasn't disappointed.

The overall sound of the songs is semi-ethereal, with a strong reliance on voice and melody. In fact, the instrumentation is a bit too soft in the mix and could have been much more present. A bit more 'oomph' would have provided some songs with much needed balance and a stronger overall sound. The sounds are all here, it just seems that either the voice has taken over or James' confidence in the music is lacking. The minimal use of musical interludes (ie- the space between chorus/verse) also alludes to this fact, with vocals being ever-present. From what I did hear, though, I would like to hear more, and with more volume.

The voice. It is obvious to hear why James knew he had found a voice for his songs in Danan. Hers is a very strong, sure voice, reminscent of Chrissie Hynde and Amy Lee (Evanescence) and capable of a full range of sound. The only thing lacking in her performance was a bit of the emotion conveyed by the lyrics, which tend towards life, love and hope in a very accessible way.

I can, unfortunately, only imagine her really pushing the boundaries, not caring if she stays completely in tune, but getting the messages delivered with more energy and sense of urgency.

The lyrical messages here are clear and well stated, leaving little guesswork in the mind of the listener. That's a good thing, as it leaves room to simply listen to the voice and melodies.

"What I hope for album listeners is that the melodies and lyrics, within the fusion of alternative indie rock, pop and new age, will take them on a journey of love, redemption, hope, despair and reflection", says James.

A very good debut CD and effort by James, it is safe to say that despite these few shortcomings, he has fulfilled his mission. This is very thoughtful music to have around.

Contact: James Durham,
Website: &

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