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CD Review: Diana Chittester “Paradox”

Diana Chittester is a singer-songwriter that makes her home in Northeastern Ohio. It is in this location that she is free to be herself and express herself the way she wants. You can hear some of her struggles in the lyrics that are found in the music that she creates.  And while her personal struggles find a place in her music, it is the music itself that is created by Diana Chittester that sets her apart from the crowd.

One thing that is rather obvious about the singer-songwriter Diana Chittester is just how strong she is as a musician. To help flavor her playing, Chittester calls upon influences from artists such as Ani DeFranco, Joni Mitchell, Lindsay Buckingham, Jewel and plenty of others including Ann Wilson of the band Heart, whose playing on tracks like “Crazy On You” truly helped flavor Chittester’s own style of playing.

That being said, just listening to the music from Diana Chittester doesn’t really do her justice. You must see the musician in concert to truly appreciate just how talented she truly is. Very few musicians can fill up a room with just their voice and one guitar but Chittester is one musician who is able to do just that. The multi-layering effect that happens when she is in concert is a wonder to behold. And it’s done without the use of a looper, which just adds to the amazing playing ability of the singer-songwriter.  

The multi-layering from Diana Chittester can be found on the various releases that have been produced by the artist over the years, with the most obvious of that layering appearing on her previous album of Find My Way Home which features only the artist with her guitar. The sparse feel of the music on that album truly helps the layering effect to shine through.

Diana Chittester’s playing and the multi-layering feel to her music led to her being included in the Top 10 list of the publication Guitar Gods Magazine. Her video for the track “Paradox” was even included in the 43rd Cleveland International Film Festival to be included in an entire program of music videos. And just recently, Chittester was featured in the RiffJournal.com’s list of 50 Gifted Singer-Songwriters

As far as her music is concerned, Diana Chittester released a new six-song EP entitled Paradox not that long ago. Where the album Find My Way Home contained a sparse feel to the music on that release, Paradox comes complete with a much fuller feel to the music. The music contained within this EP is much different compared to the artist’s previous album because of that stronger production value. This six-song release shows off just what Chittester’s music can sound like when it comes with a completely full production value to it.

Paradox from Diana Chittester begins with the track “Freedom”. The track begins with the sound of the ukulele that she uses in much of her music. That ukulele is soon joined by the drums, guitar, bass and organ to create a Rock and Roll track with the ukulele in the forefront of the track. The track about needing to make one’s own choices in life feels both unusual because of the choice of the ukulele as the centerpiece of the track and familiar as the music contains a full amount of pop-rock flavor to it. You can even imagine yourself starting to sing along with the lyrics making the track a perfect anthem for those looking for inspiration.

Diana Chittester’s newest release continues with the track “In the Middle”. Where the track of “Freedom” ha a slightly unique flavor to it, “In the Middle” is much more mainstream in comparison. With the electric guitar and the rest of the instrumentation, the track of “In the Middle” brings to mind a style of Rock and Roll that was present in the mid-nineties. More specifically, the song contains a musical quality that brings to mind the song “All I Wanna Do” from Sheryl Crow. The Rock and Roll contained within the track creates one of the strongest moments on the release.

On the title track of the EP, Diana Chittester brings back a good deal of the simplicity that had been found on the artist’s album of Find My Way Home as the track begins with only the sound of the ukulele her vocals. The song of “Paradox” finds Chittester reflecting on years gone by as a relationship comes to an end. The singer-songwriter questions what happened and why it happened. She even wonders if it was all just a bad dream. As she follows her own thoughts, the music of the track gains momentum and becomes a lot fuller. To help fill out the music of the track, strings are added to the music. The strings add beauty as well as sadness to reinforce the meaning of the lyrics on the track. What results is a track where the lyrics are full of emotion and the music adds to that sorrow. The track of “Paradox” is easily the most personal song of the six tracks included on the EP.

The Paradox release from Diana Chittester continues with the track “On My Own”. With the lyrics of the track being what they are as they spell out a woman pushing herself to keep going after something bad has happened, the track feels much like a continuation of the EP’s title track. This is mostly likely just coincidence as the two tracks of “Paradox” and “On My Own” are right next to each other.  However, the two tracks with their similar lyrical approaches create a passage on the EP that is easily the most emotional.

Diana Chittester finishes off her release of Paradox with the song “Cry”. Like “Paradox” and “On My Own” earlier in the EP, “Cry” explores personal parts of Chittester’s life as she explains how her own path in life led her to lose friends and family for simply being who she is. The soft quality of the music and the strings that are contained within it combine to create a track that will definite tug at your heart as you experience just a taste of the pain that Chittester has experienced throughout her life. Musically speaking, the quiet delivery of the music on the track makes “Cry” the perfect track to help bring Chittester’s Paradox to a close.  

Paradox from Diana Chittester is quite different from the singer-songwriter’s previous release of Find My Way Home. This album contains a stronger production value. It contains a much fuller feel to the music. And most importantly, it comes across as much more personal. In many ways, this release shows the listener just how much Diana Chittester has matured as far as her music is concerned from one release to the next. One can only imagine where she will take us with the next release.

 

To discover for yourself the music of Diana Chittester, check out “Paradox,” the very video that was included in this year’s Cleveland International Film Festival. 

To hear the entire Paradox release from Diana Chittester on spotify, click on the  album cover below: 


 
 

 

 

 

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Fanny Walks the Earth

It was back in the seventies that four young women came together to form a band that would help to create a style of Rock and Roll now known by the phrase Chick Rock. The band in question was known as Fanny. The band consisted of Jean Millington (today known as Jean Millington Adamian) – bass / vocals, June Millington – guitar / vocals, Alice de Buhr: drums, vocals (later to be replaced by Brie Darling – drums/vocals), and Nickey Barclay on keyboards. What resulted was a band unlike anything ever conceived by anyone before- a band where every note was written and performed by women. A band that would go on to influence plenty of bands like Bananarama, The Go-Gos, The Bangles and others.

As a group, Fanny would leave their mark on the music industry by initially releasing five albums including: Fanny (1970)Charity Ball (1971)[43]Fanny Hill (1972)[45] (No. 135)[44,] Mother’s Pride (1973)[6] and Rock and Roll Survivors (1974)[46]. Several decades later, the band would release a few albums that would include a live release as well as a box set of their music.

Fanny, now a trio consisting of Jean Millington Adamian) – bass / vocals, June Millington – guitar / vocals, Brie Darling – drums/vocals), has recently returned with a brand new album of music. With the smaller lineup, however, comes a new moniker. The band now calls itself Fanny Walks the Earth. And it is under this moniker that band has released their latest album. The band put out their self-titled album in mid-2018.

The self-titled album from Fanny Walks the Earth begins with the leadoff single of the album, “Lured Away”. The track features a strong Classic Rock vibe that, of course, comes from being in the industry long enough to see the style of the band move from the Modern Rock genre to Classic Rock simply because of the passage of time. To give the listener some point of reference, the music for “Lured Away” seems to feel influenced by the likes of seventies-era Aerosmith with some modern influence as well. The vocals on the track bring to mind the style of Kim Carnes. “Lured Away” is the type of track that would feel as much at home on Modern Rock radio as it would on Classic Rock stations.

Fanny Walks the Earth’s new album continues with the song “When We Need Her”. The track sings of women who answer the call when things need to be done in order to keep the momentum going in the fight for equality. “When We Need Her” is an anthem of sorts that brings to mind the early days of Fanny’s existence when the band was grouped in with the feminist movement mainly because of the fact that the band was strictly female. While the first track of the album feels rather retro in its Classic Rock musical delivery, this track feels more like something from the nineties as the track recalls artists like Sheryl Crow and/or Michelle Branch. In fact, “When We Need Her” sort of recalls Carlos Santana’s “Game of Love” with Branch.

With the next track on the release, the band of Fanny Walks the Earth creates a theme song of sorts. The lyrics to “Walk the Earth” seem to suggest the various accomplishments of the band and the women in it. Truth be told, maybe the song is simply about the feminist movement. Either way, the lyrics of the track tell of what has been done as women have walked the Earth, making waves as they went. The music of the track recall the style of band such as Redbone (of “Come and Get Your Love” fame) as the song has a slight Native influence to the music. The track also seems to recall “Witchy Woman” from The Eagles.

Staying in the same sort of vein as the previous track, “Girls on the Road” is yet another track that deals with the history and past of the band that had been known as Fanny. This track finds the ladies reminiscing about the early days of the band and how the band had come to be. The lyrics also recall everything that was going on around them in the era of the Vietnam War and the anti-war movement.

As the original band of Fanny had its origins within the sixties, it should come as no surprise that the current version of Fanny Walks the Earth would keep with many of the same ideals that the original version of the band had. With the track “One,” the band creates a track that features lyrics about unity for all. The track brings the spirit of the sixties into modern times. One of the most interesting parts of the track is the “One Heart, One Mind, One Love, One is the Number” chant that happens in the song.

One of the more unusual moments of the self-titled release from Fanny Walks the Earth is the track “Not My Monkey”. Taken from the Polish proverb “Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys,” the band comments on the sad state of human nature today as there are a lot of people who don’t seem to know what they’re doing. While the band creates a stinging statement with this track, it also creates one of the more entertaining moments on the release.

Things change directions on the very next track. The song “Cool Girl” features a Soft Rock approach to the music that would have been right at home on AM radio back in the seventies. The vocals on the track bring to mind vocalists such as Helen Reddy or Carly Simon. For those who miss the easy sounds of the seventies, “Cool Girl” is just what you’re looking for.

Fanny Walks the Earth’s self-titled album contains eleven tracks that ultimately feel like a throwback to yesterday. While some of the songs on the release have a more modern feel to them, most of the songs contain a strong retro vibe to them. But that retro vibe is not necessarily a bad thing as the vibe the music contains comes from an era where the music had creativity to it. Having been around since the late sixties, the ladies in Fanny Walks the Earth prove they still have it on this new release.  

 

For more information, check out the band’s record label, Blue Elan Records.

To purchase a copy of Fanny Walks the Earth’s self-titled album, click on the album cover below:

Fanny Walked The Earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Released in 2018, the self-titled album Fanny Walks the Earth has already been making a lot of noise in the music industry. Since it’s release, the band has released two singles. The first single from the release was “Lured Away”. The band’s current single is “When We Need Her”.