This is the debut album from the New Zealand born Rietta. Having relocated to London six years ago her CV already includes appearances at the Edinburgh Festival, Caf� de Paris, the Savoy Hotel and a recent album track on the �ber-trendy Hed Kandi label. Not forgetting the obligatory appearance on Xena: Warrior Princess of course.
With her marvellous four octave range she has received the critical acclaim, and can quite easily wow an assembled crowd with her ability to switch between jazz, soul, R’n’B, pop and rock with ease. The best analogy would be to imagine a mix of Anastacia, Joss Stone and Aretha Franklin, without being too much like any of them. Clubbers can also take note, you’ll be able to get great remixes out of this lady.
The first track on the album is Madness, which will also be the first single release, and it is a brilliant and upbeat tune that displays her vocals to their best advantage. So Free is a rhythmic and jangly offering with an addictive twist to it. Title track Cut Me Loose is a beautifully written analysis of an ambiguous relationship and its inevitable emotional turmoil, which Rietta’s voice gives the power it couldn’t survive without.
Amongst the other tracks you find Back to You, a rock based treat where power vocals reign supreme. Falling is a heart-breakingly beautiful ballad, with one solo voice soaring above an acoustic guitar, which is always an unstoppable combination when done this well and River of Tears is in a similar vein, which may well have you emulating it’s title. Wild Flower begins with a much harder sound, but that soon mellows into a deep and slightly countrified refrain.
The great thing about this album is that Ms Austin’s vocals are complimented so perfectly by the band and backing singers. So often these days we end up with overblown orchestras or large numbers of other singers to mask the fact that the solo artist is either not very good or just utterly insipid. The vocals here stand on their own merit, and the way they move from the sub-operatic down to a beautiful whisper simply has to be heard to be believed.
Each of the tracks is unique and they combine together to provide a perfectly formed album. The only downside is that there’s no great breakthrough song to take the record-buying public by storm. Without the force of a major label PR machine behind it that could be the thing that stops this from receiving the success it deserves to find.