Zoe Vandermeer,
Zoe's Musical Fairy Tale: Upon a Time
(self-produced, 2000)

On her CD Upon a Time, Zoe Vandermeer has been a very busy lady. Not only is she credited as writer, performer, composer and producer, but she also painted the lovely watercolors that grace the CD's cover. In addition to all that, she provides piano, harpsichord, various harps, recorders, psalteries and midi. A very busy lady, indeed.

Upon a Time is a fairy tale in both music and narration. It relates the story of young Sean, who loves his mother very much and is afraid of losing her. She comforts him and begins to tell him a fairy tale which continues in his dreams once he falls asleep. In the land of dreams, Sean becomes Jhong, who must rescue the lovely Serafina from the cruel King before he, like another fairy-tale king, murders her as he has his other wives.

Jhong sets off through the Enchanted Forest to find the Golden Key that will open the gates of the castle for him. Meanwhile, the King has begun to torture Serafina....

Because this is a fairy tale, we know that Jhong will rescue the princess. But Jhong is also a sleeping little boy who must awaken, so even though his princess loves him, they cannot be together forever.

The music on this CD comprises an amazing range of genres. Everything from folk to opera to rock is represented here. Even "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" makes an appearance, as the melody is woven into other melodies to demonstrate Sean's fear of losing his mother; somehow, the cheerful little tune takes on an air of sadness here. Zoe's voice, both in song and narration, ranges from sweet to menacing, skillfully changing to match the mood.

Clocking in at just over 74 minutes, this is not a short CD. Because it tells a story, it is something that needs to be listened to, rather than played as background music. The best way to listen to Upon a Time is to set aside some time, get out the Comfy Chair and Soft Pillows, turn off the phone and prepare to be transported to the Enchanted Forest.

Upon a Time is tremendously entertaining. Zoe Vandermeer is clearly one talented performer.

[ by Laurie Thayer ]
Rambles: 28 July 2001

Buy it from Amazon.com.