Artist: Amber Schneider
Technical Grade: 8/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Commercial Value: 9/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
So once again, here’s to another well-crafted Country music record. ‘Fearless’ is the debut release by 19-year-old (yes 19!) Amber Schneider. The album is gutsy, easy-listening and full of radio hits.
First off, she doesn’t sound her age at all, her voice is natural and mature, solid and at times deep. Amber had a great mid-range pitch, but when she did hit a high note or two, there was a certain depth to her voice. There was a bit of an R&B flavour in her singing as well.
Not that I’m an authority on country music, but the album felt more like modern Country-pop rather than traditional country (if there’s such a category). Of course there were all the usual suspects present here – fiddle and mandolin, steel guitar and dobro, bass, acoustic and electric guitars, drums. But in addition to keyboards there were also percussion and programming. So perhaps it’s renaissance Country music.
The following musicians grace this album: - Chad Melchert: drums, Paul Faber on bass, Ryan Davidson and Robin Pelletier on acoustic and electric guitars, Ben Beveridge on fiddle and mandolin, Jeff Bradshaw on steel guitar and dobro, Craig Learmont on keyboards, programming and percussion and Samantha King on backing vocals.
There are several songwriters here as well, and they are: Kim Mclean, Devon O’Day, Larry Wayne Clark, Georgia Thomas, Dodie Greenwald, Craig Learmont, David Brainard, Tim Mathews, Luann Reid, David Tyson, Christopher Ward, Kym Simon, Jim Allison, Dani McCulloch and Steph McKenna.
Amber herself collaborated with Craig Learmont to write ‘Heaven’s a Better Place’ – a very sad and somber song about the loss of her seven-year-old friend.
‘Lucky me’ had a funky-kinda-groovy thing going on. Check out the guitar phrasing right before the verse starts. I especially liked the cymbal splashes in the chorus, accentuating just the right spot. There’s a great vocal harmony leading the song in final procession.
‘Drown me in it’ has great hooks in the chorus, and Amber hits a few notes that just make you shiver in your shoes, where does this voice come from?
The intro chords to ‘Last Exit to Eden’ sets the stage for an epic love-heartache song. Amber’s voice softly follows the steel guitar line in the bridge. Just as the song gets softer and softer, and I thought it was about the end, Amber hits this powerful note from out of nowhere, and then the song fades out. Talk about the element of surprise, well done!
The album was produced by Craig Learmont at Muzikhaus in Three Hills, Alberta.
Amber was raised in Leader, Saskatchewan and has been singing, dancing and playing piano from a very early age. Her musical achievements so far speak of someone with a very bright future ahead….
Amber was recently nominated for ‘Female Vocalist of the Year’ at the SCMA awards, held in Nipawin, March 2006. She showcased at the SCMA awards in the adult category and performed at the President’s Banquet hosted by Brad Johner. To date, she has performed at various venues across Saskatchewan and Alberta including Carlton Trail Jamboree (2006, 2005), Big Valley Jamboree (ATB Stage 2006) and A Taste of Saskatchewan (2005); just to name a few.
The album debuted at #100 on the Cancountry Chart in the October 2006 issue of Country Music News.
Amber also is a team member of ‘Homes for Hope’ Mexico Mission, traveling in 2004 & 2005 to Vicente Guerrero, Mexico to help build homes for less fortunate families. Currently, she is enrolled in the Music Program as a Voice Major at GrantMacEwanCollege. She’s also a vocalist for the Grant MacEwan Showcase band and is also the lead singer for her country band ‘Buck Wild’ based out in Edmonton, Alberta.
So, my next question is, where does she find the time to do all this? Clearly Amber has a handle on life; clearly, she’s got what it takes to capture the world at large. She’s definitely fearless!