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Diane Birch – Bible Belt
June 2, 2009

I remember that awhile ago, must’ve been last summer, I was catching up on some late night television and while I wasn’t really paying attention to what was going on and primarily focusing on other things I had laying around, I suddenly heard something that made me turn my attention back to the screen. I’m not sure what late night show it was, but there was Diane Birch, performing one of her songs and apart from immediately thinking that this act could become a huge star very fast, I found myself captivated by the music.

While I had only heard one song at that point, I could already hear many different influences and clever use of lyrics and metaphors. So after that, I looked up Diane Birch on the internet and the next day I went out and bought her excellent debut album “Bible Belt”. The diversity of Birch’s character and personality reflects in her music and it makes for a record that doesn’t just range in influences, but also shines in subtle variety without giving up the organic flow a good album needs.

For a young artist (Birch is only 27, 26 even when the album was released), she is showing a lot of maturity in her music and is able to target an audience that ranges from 8 – 80. Her ability to write excellent pop songs that lean towards pop, soul, rock, folk, blues and even gospel gives her a lot of range to play with and showcase her music in. For example, take the very catchy Valentino which is an uptempo pop song with nice rhythmic subtleties where Birch shows excellent vocal control, while on a song like Nothing But A Miracle there’s a certain bluesy undertone in the song that gives the song a character boost. Highlights are Ariel, which rivals Billy Joel in his best days, the potentially worldwide radio hit Rewind and the folky/americana-influenced (a la Carole King) Mirror Mirror.

The album focuses more on the songwriting and arrangements than it does on Diane Birch’s vocals are presentation. And while there’s nothing wrong with those on the album, it doesn’t hold the power and intensity that Birch showcases when she is on stage. Her comfortable attitude and ability to easily connect to her audience is remarkable and makes her an all around artist. When you listen to the album, it might not blow you away right the first time you hear it, but when you let the music sink in and you hear the strengths and subtle creativity that went into this record, it is hard to deny that this is a very strong debut.

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