Speak a Little Louder [Deluxe Edition]

Speak a Little Louder [Deluxe Edition]

by Diane Birch
     
 

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Speak a Little Louder, Diane Birch's follow-up to her audacious debut Bible Belt in 2009, features heavyweight talent in the production department. Steve Greenberg is back, but it's Homer Steinweiss helming most of the session, with contributions from E.G. White

Overview

Speak a Little Louder, Diane Birch's follow-up to her audacious debut Bible Belt in 2009, features heavyweight talent in the production department. Steve Greenberg is back, but it's Homer Steinweiss helming most of the session, with contributions from E.G. White, ?uestlove, and Matt Hales. Its 11 songs, recorded at seven different studios, are much more polished; her piano and keyboards are adorned by big, natural-sounding drums, humming basslines, and enough guitar to build a stable, dynamic foundation for her voice in a warm, amniotic mix. Birch is an unapologetic pop classicist. The influences of Elton John's melodic sensibility and Stevie Nicks' voice -- in both timbre and phrasing -- are ever present. The long shadow of '70s radio pop on Speak a Little Louder is a statement of defiance rather than one of nostalgia. On the title track/opener, drums are mixed in tandem with the lead vocal. Her hook is tight and alluring in its nod to John circa Tumbleweed Connection. Its fat, minimal bassline, pianos, and synths around her multi-layered backing vocals (all Birch) provide real drama. The enormous rolling tom-toms on "Lighthouse" recall Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill," though the twist in the melody is less strident, more subtle; the arrangement for the mellifluous backing chorus is stellar. "Pretty in Pain" is one of the many places where this team uses Lindsey Buckingham's production aesthetic to get maximum emotional effect. It frames a midtempo, souled-out rocker that recalls Carole King on Thoroughbred. "Love and War" contains funky rhythms and a string orchestration that suggests Betty Wright. "Frozen Over" combines a soulful hook with an anthemic backing chorus -- that and a wonderfully complex bridge worthy of Laura Nyro. Set-closer "It Plays On" is the album's most emotionally resonant cut. Its subjects are loss, grief, and acceptance. Birch's piano is its dominant instrument, and it combines with Nicks' sense of balladry and a transcendent, gospel-styled backing chorus.Though the singer is at her most vulnerable, there remains a steely determination in the grain of her voice that is buoyed by the choir. This album isn't perfect. Birch's weakness remains her lyrics -- though in fairness, they too have matured since Bible Belt. They continue to sacrifice emotional depth in favor of rhyme in various places. On Speak a Little Louder, Birch does, showcasing her developing talent in (mostly) fine songs that place her in a lineage where sophisticated melodies, nuanced production, and skilled arrangements make for memorable music. [The Deluxe Edition contains five bonus tracks and a fold-out lyric poster. Among its highlights are the dynamic rocker "Adelaide," the suburban funk of "Staring at You," and the powerful "Unfckd." The extra material is totally worth a few extra dollars.]

Product Details

Release Date:
10/15/2013
Label:
S-Curve Records
UPC:
0807315110420
catalogNumber:
51104
Rank:
51683

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Diane Birch   Primary Artist,Organ,Piano,Drums,Keyboards,Tambourine,Vocals,fender rhodes
Angelo Morris   Bass
John Taylor   Bass
Eg White   Guitar,Keyboards
Nick Movshon   Bass
Matt Hales   Musician
Homer Steinweiss   Bass,Guitar,Drums
Thomas Brenneck   Guitar
Bing Ji Ling   Guitar
Mike Barron   Guitar
Luke O'Malley   Guitar
Ahmir Thompson   Drums
Tomek Miernowski   Guitar,Percussion
Mark Williams   Guitar
Jean-Philip Grobler   Synthesizer,12-string Guitar
James Farkas   Guitar

Technical Credits

Betty Wright   Composer
Cathy Dennis   Composer
Jimmy Harry   Composer,Additional Production
Steve Greenwell   Engineer
Sheldon Steiger   Engineer
Eg White   Composer,Producer
Andy Baldwin   Engineer
Diane Birch   Composer,Producer,Liner Notes,Vocal Arrangements
Matt Hales   Composer,Producer
Homer Steinweiss   Composer,Producer,Engineer
Steve Greenberg   Producer
S. Vaughan Merrick   Engineer
Ahmir Thompson   Producer
Tomek Miernowski   Engineer,drum programming
Chris Allen   Engineer
Barrett Yeretsian   Composer
Jean-Philip Grobler   Additional Production

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