Lori Michaels,
The Lilac Testament
(Thirteen Spinnets, 2005)

The Lilac Testament begins. I look at the website listed on the liner notes. The website begins:

The Lilac Testament is Lori's debut album. She wrote all the songs. She wanted to play all the instruments, but then former Wings drummer Steve Holley reminded her that she didn't play drums and offered to step in. The project was quickly completed when she gratefully let it go and the amazing cast of characters: Jon DeRosa (Aarktica/Pale Horse and Rider) on guitar, Ernest Adzentoivich (Flare/Plexus) on bass, and Gerald Menke on pedal steel and dobro did what they do best.

Michaels' cool, distinctive voice is only half used on this album. She did write all the songs, but the lyrics don't pull her voice in and out of the melody; she skims the top and that makes it difficult for us to get with her to appreciate what she has to offer.

Crisscrossing between folk and country happens easily when a musician tries early on to discover their voice and discover what music is inside. The crisscrossing happens between tracks here but also within tracks, which seems to call for a maturing process within the songs.

The musicians valiantly try to lift the tone of the tracks but it just doesn't push hard enough.

It's not that there aren't sparks of goodness. There are. "Turn of the Century" has a memorable flow that accents Michaels' voice well and "How Long Can Memories Last" tells a good story and is nice but could have more angst, more edge to the vocals.

The Lilac Testament is a brave beginning for Michaels. There is much to like about her voice and the promise of more is evident in every track. She delivers it in the first and final tracks of the CD. The revisit of "Take My Hand" absolutely shines. Her voice comes alive and she establishes our faith in her power to have a musical future. This New York girl by way of Detroit with roots in Tennessee has a deep well of music within her. She just needs to recognize what drinks will refresh.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Virginia MacIsaac

29 November 2008

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