October 2003

Acoustic Alchemy
Radio Contact
Higher Octave Music

Acoustic Alchemy adds some new elements to its musical mix on Radio Contact (Higher Octave). The dual-guitar frontline of Greg Carmichael and Miles Gilderdale is still intact, and the group's gentle, multistylistic sound is amply in evidence on tracks like the sprightly, good-natured "No Messin'," the dreamy "Turn the Stars On," the playful "Urban Cowboy" and the animated, Latin-flavored "Venus Morena." With Radio Contact, the group decided to introduce a vocal element. The album includes one vocal track-the ballad "Little Laughter"-while two more tunes-the lively "Shoestring" and the breezy "Shelter Island Drive"-feature vocal choruses, which provide a kind of interesting instrumental coloration. Vocalist Jo Harrop sings "Little Laughter," and while she turns in a pleasant performance, the song's extremely slow pace gives it an almost dirgelike quality. Vocals aren't a bad idea, especially if they're used to enhance the band's already high-caliber musicianship, but if Acoustic Alchemy plans to continue featuring vocal tracks, then both singer and musicians would be better served with livelier material.

Originally published in October 2003

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