Kristina, Sonja: Anthology
Although best known for her long association with Curved Air, Sonja Kristina has also recorded an interesting body of work beyond those walls. Releasing a self titled solo album in 1980, the singer and musician would follow up some eleven years later with Songs From The Acid Folk, before bringing us Harmonics Of Love with Cloud 10 in 1995. Further excursions would begin with Marvin Ayers as the calendar clicked into a new millennium, but it is those first three 'solo' outings that form the basis of this Anthology collection. With Sonja herself providing the liner notes they make for an interesting companion as you journey through her music. Placing the songs in chronological order may well have aided that process but the manner in which the lady's solo albums are scattered through this two disc set illustrates both how diverse ÔŅĹ and cohesive ÔŅĹ Sonja's work has been.
Two new tracks bookend the running order of disc one, a reimagining of "Frank Mills" from the Hair soundtrack finds the singer going back to a piece she performed as part of the controversial show's cast back in 1968. Whereas "C'est La Vie" is a cover of the Greg Lake song that Sonja first performed in his tribute on recent Cruise To The Edge shows; this version a new studio take that works quite beautifully. In between, the full gamut of styles this lady has employed come to the fore, folk, punk, pop, rock and psych all recounted as "If This Was Love", "This Is Not Sanctuary" and "Man He Colour" play out.
During the 80s Sonja concentrated her time as a mother, performing infrequently as her husband Stewart Copeland's career with The Police and beyond went stratospheric, and she recorded even more sporadically. Yet we are treated to the less obvious interpretations of Carl Orff's "O Fortuna" (you may well know it as the music on the Old Spice adverts) with Darryl Way, which is a surprisingly triumphant experience, while Lemmy's "I Don't Believe A Word" is given a sympathetic acoustic airing. Elsewhere "Anna", "Devil May Care" and "Street Run" continue the eclectic cohesion as we go back to plunder the main albums Sonja has crafted over the years.
With only two tracks included that Kristina collectors won't already possess, it would maybe be fair to suggest that Anthology is more likely aimed at those who want to begin the journey of discovering this talented lady's catalogue outside of her main band. On those terms this eclectic and decades spanning collection does its job extremely well, highlighting the many styles Sonja Kristina has employed over the years and the personal journeys that have motivated her and her music.
1. FRANK MILLS
2. IF THIS WAS LOVE
3. THE PASSION
4. BABY SONG
5. FULL TIME WOMAN
6. MAN HE COLOUR
7. ONE TO ONE
8. MELINDA (MORE OR LESS)
9. THIS IS NOT A SANCTUARY
11. C'EST LA VIE
1. DEVIL MAY CARE
5. SAN TROPEZ
6. I DON'T BELIEVE A WORD
7. STREET RUN
8. O FORTUNA
9. LOVE CHILD
Added: May 18th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Anthology at Cherry Red
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|Kristina, Sonja: Anthology
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2018-05-19 03:13:33
Sonja Kristina has been plying her trade for some five decades now albeit with extended periods away from the music industry. She is mostly known as the femme fatale lead vocalist of the British progressive rock band Curved Air. This latest platter is the appropriately titled Anthology.
This career retrospective features only one Curved Air offering in its original format, the tune ‚ÄúLove Child‚ÄĚ taken from the 1973 album of the same name. First things first. I admit to not having explored Curved Air before but this song represents all that I love about ‚Äė70s progressive rock. First and foremost Kristina‚Äôs lead vocals are just so good setting the mood for the rest of the musicians to do their thing. Jobson‚Äôs wonderful violin and keyboard excursions are matched with a soaring guitar solo that I‚Äôm sure has sent shivers down many a spine. Just a great track.
Disc 1 begins with a trip to the present and the tune ‚ÄúFrank Mills‚ÄĚ written in 2017 relating back to her pre-Curved Air days and her involvement in the musical Hair. It‚Äôs a beautifully constructed folk ditty with melodic vibes, acoustic guitar and Kristina‚Äôs delicate vocals. This is such a nostalgic nod to the past and a fine beginning to this two CD set. Next is ‚ÄúIf this was Love‚ÄĚ, a sweeping folk piece taken from her 1991 release Songs from The Acid Folk. It‚Äôs a lovely track featuring serenely played acoustic guitar, violin, cello and accordion. On the enchanting ‚ÄúPassion‚ÄĚ, taken from Simon‚Äôs Excalibur project, the production is crystal clear and the playing is gentle and soothing. Two tracks are taken from Kristina‚Äôs Cloud 10 project titled Harmonics of Love. The lyrically moving ‚ÄúLullaby/Baby Song‚ÄĚ, with percussion reminiscent of Paul Simon‚Äôs Graceland album and the slightly trippy ‚ÄúAngel‚ÄĚ, a mellow psychedelic folk offering. A cover of Emerson, Lake & Palmer‚Äôs ‚ÄúC‚Äôest La Vie‚ÄĚ, recorded in 2017, is a lovely tribute to Lake and Emerson. Flute, accordion and delicate acoustic arpeggios play like a dream, all framed by Kristina‚Äôs riveting lead vocals.
Three tunes from the Songs from The Acid Folk disc begin CD 2; the slightly bluesy and acidic ‚ÄúDevil May Care, the uplifting and warm folk pop ditty ‚ÄúAnna‚ÄĚ and the gypsy-like ‚ÄúBuccaneer‚ÄĚ. The rocking and fast paced new wave of ‚ÄúSt Tropez and ‚ÄúStreet Run‚ÄĚ adds some punch to the folkier leanings of the first disc.
There you go. If you haven‚Äôt heard Kristina‚Äôs work I strongly urge you to give this one a listen. Vastly underrated and mostly unknown to most music consumers, Kristina is an immense talent and this two disc set proves it. Recommended.
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