Susan Raven,
Glittering Cities
(Izun, 1999)

Combining global musical influences and interests in all things mystical and metaphysical, Susan Raven's new release Glittering Cities offers up a message of hope and inspiration to listeners.

On the opening track, "Behind Your Eyes," Raven sings "I found you on your knees / you are waiting, you are praying / for miracles to come." The subsequent tracks on the CD present Raven's version of an answer to those prayers, as she addresses the emotional, physical, and spiritual state of the world. Raven's unique voice, strong and ethereal at the same time, provides a perfect accompaniment to the inspirational message of her music.

Although Raven's interest in both Eastern and Western mystical traditions fuels much of the material for this album, the songs never come across as heavy-handed. Rather, the lyrics merge with the musical arrangements (which are as varied as the traditions that drive the lyrics) to create an overall listening experience that leaves one feeling that there is some hope still left in the world. And according to Raven, that's all she wants, ultimately: "hope in the morning and peace in the evening."

That's not to say that Raven doesn't have an agenda on some of these songs. "Stack Your Guns" is a call to end war, while "Here to Be" urges listeners to take better care of our Mother Earth.

Just as all of Raven's lyrics work to create a cohesive mood while still standing on their own as individual messages, the musical arrangements possess the same subtle variance, ranging from synth dance grooves to more acoustic arrangements. The overall effect is a combination of many styles, with no one style dominating the sound. In essence, this is world music, reflecting the universal message of the lyrics.

Raven has created an uplifting, well-crafted album with Glittering Cities. It deserves a listen simply for Raven's haunting voice.

[ by Audrey M. Clark ]
Rambles: 8 July 2001