(Great Northern, 2002)
Late Harvest is the fifth album released by Serah, an artist living in California -- but whose music appears to have been primarily inspired by her earlier experiences of living in Africa and France.
With this collection Serah leaves her earlier explorations of new age music behind and ventures in the direction of pop. Quite a number of this CD's tracks are in fact covers of songs by other songwriters, such as Ben King's "Stand by Me," Carole King's "Will You Still Love Me" and "Sailing" by Christopher Cross.
The whole presentation of Late Harvest exudes Serah's propensity for the romantic, from the musical arrangements and lyrics to the tastefully designed CD case and accompanying booklet, which are composed of photographs in a soft diffuse light, dominated by shades of yellow and red, and a wonderful collection of paintings by -- among others -- Serah herself and fellow Californian Austin Manchester.
However, having listened to the Late Harvest repeatedly over an extended period of time I cannot shake of the impression that this album is somewhat lacking in inspiration. For romantic music to really touch people, it must succeed in bringing across that indefinable spark. If that does not happen it is in danger of reducing itself to mere posing. Somehow that is the impression I get from Late Harvest.
The final conclusion must therefore be that this album does not have that indeterminable something that distinguishes the music of great artists from that performed by able musicians. With this it is not implied that Serah has made any pretensions to that effect. Late Harvest is no-frills music, best enjoyed during a late summer sunset, the air pregnant with the smell of freshly cut grass and damp soil.
by Carool Kersten
Serah is a poet and songwriter, and the two vocations are combined to great effect on this, her seventh album. It contains nine original compositions, which are augmented by her unique renditions of some pop classics.
"Stand By Me" stands out as a brilliant interpretation of a song that has been covered by a multitude of excellent artists. Serah shows she can take it and make it her own. Her voice is strong and melodious and seems ideally suited to the lyrics. Another outstanding track on a CD of great tracks is "Psalm Song." This is a beautiful and haunting piece that owes its inspiration to the Bible but its vitality to Serah. Here we can experience a truly spiritual happening in just over four minutes. Her inspired use of chants and Native American prayers as background makes this a minor classic and a heart-warming experience.
Listening to this CD is a rewarding musical experience, but it can be so much more if you allow your heart to hear as well as your ear. "Joined at the Wing" is beautiful fantasy song. Just contemplate the title and drift off into another world.
A checklist of the titles will give you a feeling of the depth of thought in this album: "Catching Fireflies," "Forgive the Moon" and "Breathing Desert Air." Add to these her standards given a new spiritual life, and you have a classic in the making.
Not even the original composer could give a better version of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" with this angelic, light touch.
The presentation of the CD also deserves mention. The insert booklet not only gives the lyrics but also some beautiful pieces of art, some by Serah. The gatefold cover makes a beautiful presentation and, as such, along with the sentiments expressed, it would make a wonderful gift. But I warn you, if you buy it as a gift, buy two -- because you will want to own it, too.
by Nicky Rossiter