An iconiclight review:
I love this new release by Fireflight! LISTEN to the snippits, then buy it!
Dawn Michele has said in a recent interview that they do not anticipate releasing this as a hard copy CD or Vinyl (my preference is always hard copies), but loving this band as much as I do, I’m more than willing to support this wonderful collection by buying the EP in digital form. It would be great to have an analog version though.
“INNOVA” of 2015 is actually one of my favorite Fireflight albums, right up there with “Unbreakable” of 2008, a really great album. So, Re•Imag•Innova was bound to be of interest to me. I’ve already had something pretty remarkable to say about it in a tweet, and I meant every word of it:
Dawn Michele is a remarkable singer, especially when she is creating her art in the studio, with her distinctive explorations of new ways to approach a vocal, reaching up for those amazing high notes with power and clarity (she doesn’t always get the credit she deserves from many reviewers for her clear voice, artful phrasing, and awesome range!).
I personally believe she is one of the best studio vocalists around, being a singer that tries a wide range of experiments in style and ways to form her words and carry energy throughout a line, verse or chorus. Ever heard “Escape” ?? Once the chorus starts, the vocals… It’s stunning.
Dawn again hits those amazing highs, and she does it with energy and in some cases varying skillfully between an impassioned energy to emphasise a moment, and then a soft breathiness to deliver a gentle, loving thought. Dawn is an expert, there’s no question about it. She tries new things and she succeeds.
I like every track on this EP which puts it squarely to the 5/5 range if I were rating. I have found some favorites though, after repeated listens.
At first, because I love the song “Keep Fighting” on INNOVA, I thought that this might be my top favorite track on this EP, but I have found that I really like “Here and Now” and “Out of My Head” as new faves as well. Both of these tracks are written and performed well, mixed well, have plenty of striking moments, and just overall, make me hit the replay button again before I move on.
The music: It’s beautifully mixed! I wrote that this EP is “like a flawless diamond” because it has that feel to me. I wouldn’t even say these tracks are “stripped down” or “unplugged” because they’re not. Some have a swirling, brilliant atmosphere and have been mixed in perfect tandom with Dawn’s vocals. Dawn rides the waves vocally like the expert she is, and the effect is wonderful. Forgive me… I’m drifting into another simile again… “like a flawless diamond rising and falling on a platinum sea near a glistening beach” – Wow.
Although it is said that the EP is “acoustic” I would almost shy away from saying that. It is not purely acoustic. Obviously there is an acoustic element to the songs, and although the “dance beats” from INNOVA are not part of the mix here, there is still an electronic element (in some cases a lot of electronic mixing elements) in the production, and so I think the most accurate way to describe Re•Imag•Innova is, as Fireflight has said, “a re-imagining” of select tracks from INNOVA. That is EXACTLY what Re•Imag•Innova is. This is not just Dawn with a sit-in guitarist and someone on bongos… this is a polished, professional, and finely tuned set of recordings.
Going back to “Keep Fighting” I can only say that this is a great track, just simply as good as the original on INNOVA, but with a different feel. Of course it’s more emotional without the “dancy” beat and electronic vocal modification flourishes of the INNOVA version. In short, I like it, and it’s an excellent alternative to the original.
“Resuscitate” on Re•Imag•Innova is pretty remarkable. Obviously, being a slower-feeling and less frantic version than the INNOVA original, it nevertheless has it’s own power. In fact, I think they could have easily, had they chosen to do so, made the Re•Imag•Innova version “spookier” or more mysterious or mystical, but perhaps that would have taken away from the general feel of the collection, and perhaps being “spooky” would never have been their intention anyway… this is just a little impression I got when I listened – that this could have been taken in a completely different direction had they chosen to do so. Certainly, there is enough mild swirling and atmosphere in the mix to suggest that thought to my mind, but they didn’t take it very far, and frankly it works perfectly.
Safety is good! Safety was a good song on INNOVA, and though not my top favorite track (which was probably Keep Fighting, or We Are Alive), it was one of the “faves” I chose when reviewing INNOVA. It is the melody and the chorus that gave me the impression of being a good song, and the feeling I had then has stayed with me. Safety has the skillful pop melody and lyrical hook to enable it to hold it’s own, and the original became a favorite of radio stations during the INNOVA release era, especially when it caught on again sometime after the release and began to get radio-play again. In any case, I think in the case of Re•Imag•Innova it is served up very well as a Dawn solo, and I’m glad they didn’t have the “guest vocalist” come back in to add his bit again. That was fine for INNOVA, but Re•Imag•Innova doesn’t need it. Dawn HAS this.
So what’s my favorite top track on Re•Imag•Innova? I don’t know! It’s really hard to choose when you like every track and the EP works so perfectly as a whole.
I think if I had to choose today, it would be “Here and Now” but honestly “Out of My Head” vies for equal status. I guess I’ll pick both!
Fireflight is awesome, has had so many great songs in their history, and has produced a sweet little godsend in Re•Imag•Innova (as they did with INNOVA) during these strange musical times.
I AM THANKFUL for Fireflight!
Thank you Dawn, and Glenn, and Wendy for all you did and do!
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