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Miriam Stockley: Second Nature

South African-born singer Miriam Stockley utilizes intricately layered vocals as a way of depicting light, shade, texture and form like a painter. Stockley’s multitracked approach is somewhat similar to that of popular Celtic vocalist Enya, although the songs on her sophomore album, Second Nature (Narada), are filled with evocative, often exotic, soundscapes featuring musical elements drawn from all over the world. Opening with a kind of harmonized chorale, “A Finnish Summer Night-Finlandia” transforms into an ode with a hymnlike quality, while the elaborately interwoven staccato vocals on “Rainsong” form a pattern that resembles raindrops, and a swooping, soaring flute sets off the wordless vocalese and Brazilian rhythms of “Butterfly.” Stockley’s vocals glide over a tribal soundscape on “Umoya,” while Brazilian percussion propels her sharp, spiky vocalese on “Ifemeli.” By turns ethereal, dramatic and lyrical, Second Nature is an impressive achievement by an artist whose vast range and imagination afford her a rich, almost limitless, sonic palette.

Originally Published