There is something that I’d like to share with you, dear Treble readers: I love to sing. Not in front of others, mind you. But the kind of singing that I used to do as a girl when I would play tapes of “The Little Mermaid” and sing along with Ariel with every ounce of my being. I used to want to be a singer but the reality of my crippling stage fright set in and now I’ll only really belt one out when I’m alone in my home. I’m not really singing along with Ariel anymore, but nowadays Jenny Lewis, Cat Power or Neko Case will serve me well. After listening to Lavender Diamond’s debut EP, The Cavalry of Light, I think I may have to add Becky Stark to that list.
It should be noted that Becky Stark is classically trained, but she’s not showy. There are no unnecessary flourishes that plague many female pop vocalists. Instead she uses her talents sparingly so that every time she hits that high note it’s a pleasurable surprise rather than a desperate pull for attention. Stark is joined by Jeff Rosenberg, Steve Gregoropoulos, and Ron Rege, keeping tight arrangements of guitar, piano, tambourine and drums, respectively. The limited number of instruments also lends to a sound that evokes the folk-tinged pop music of the 1960s and ’70s. “Please” is a ballad straight out of the Carpenters’ back catalog. Stark’s voice even sings in a lower register that sounds eerily like Karen Carpenter’s. The song may not stand out as much as the other tracks, but its sincerity wins you over.
Perhaps the most adventurous song on the EP is “In Heaven There Is No Heat.” The structure is a straightforward 2/2 time kickdrum guitar combo giving way to a bright, loud chorus. However, Stark sings the verses in a cool, high soprano that adds an ethereal feel to the lyrics: “In heaven there is no heat/ In sorrow there is no rhyme.” It’s a stark counterpoint to the warmth and focus of the chorus. Here Stark is joined by her bandmates and it becomes a friendly invitation: “Dream the kind of life that you will find/ The kind of love that lasts forever.” What makes this song so unique is that you won’t find a transitional bridge between these two different moods. It’s the contrast that makes the song so strong.
Best of all is the opening epic, “You Broke My Heart.” It’s a rounding march that gains momentum as it moves forward. It’s here that Stark shows her true talent as a singer. Her voice is strong and full of courage. It’s one of the most mesmerizing vocal performances that I’ve heard in recent memory. Simply put: she sings like a woman who wants to shout from the rooftops. The accompanying instrumentation is heavy and it propels the song and fuels Stark’s vocals with astounding energy.
“You Broke My Heart” is certainly a standalone track and this EP would be worth getting for this song alone. Yet the three tracks following reinforce Lavender Diamond as a band to watch for. The Cavalry of Light acts as a strong and positive first impression of Becky Stark. Her tenderness and stunning vocal talents make her a welcome addition to the music scene and to my singing repertoire.
MP3: “You Broke My Heart”