Caroline Lavelle has worked with artists as widely ranging from Massive Attack to William Orbit (who produced her first album and said collaboration is supposedly the reason Madonna tapped Orbit for her Ray Of Light release), and that doesn't change at all with her sophomore release Brilliant Midnight. Although she's obviously a very gifted singer and cellist in her own right (she was trained at the Royal College Of Music In London), she also works with musicians such as Michael Nyman, Charlie May, and Hector Zazou. What remains is an album that is more lush and rich than her debut, and one that's a nice step forward and should help to propel her alongside contemporaries like Sarah McLachlan or even Loreena McKennit.
Upon hearing the first track on the release, I admittingly thought that I was listening to something from Craig Armstrong's The Space Between Us release. Greeted with a nice string arrangement and keyboards that sound strikingly similar, Lavelle's voice doesn't sound too far off from Tracey Thorn's on the aforementioned release. Still, the rather long track has a life of its own and swells with very pretty flourishes that highlight both the cello and vocal work of Lavelle. The second track takes on a bit more of an aggressive tone, with a thick, programmed rhythm section and yet more string arrangements that attack with stabbing motions rather than sweeping ones.
On the fourth track, things change up a slight bit more and "She Said" takes on a very radio-friendly edge that reminds me a bit of Dido with a bit more explosive chorus. In fact, if you're a fan of the former singer, this album would probably be right up your alley as well. The obvious first single of the release, though, is the very nice "All I Have." With a nice lead bass and Lavelle contributing both the lead vocals and background chorus (which sound suprisingly like Annie Lennox), it's a track that gets stuck in your head more than some of the more sweeping tracks on the release. The track even gets a mega-remix treatment from Kid Loco that's tagged on the end of the disc.
I've already dropped enough names of groups and artists above that I probably don't even need to explain things anymore to let you know whether or not it's something that you'll be interested in. The 14 track release is flawlessy produced and runs almost 70-minutes, so if you're into any of artists mentioned above, you'll easily find something interesting on Brilliant Midnight. Although it seems to be aimed at a slightly more mainstream audience, the instrumentation on the release is really excellent and cinematic, and if you're into female vocalists, Lavelle is definitely a name to watch for.