With the vast array of music that’s out there, it’s often difficult to find something that sets itself apart from the incessant library of songs and tunes. One dilemma facing music today is originality…or lack thereof. So many tracks come across studio-heavy, burdened with a bad case of being over-produced. Such is not the case with Shishonnah and their debut album, Elysian Dreams.
Shishonnah is a group comprised of the talents of singers Liz Madden and Jenne Lennon as well as musician/producer Roland Labana. Madden continues to amass her growing list of accomplishments with starring roles in theater, work on the Fuji FinePix ad compaign, three solo albums to her credit, two albums as part of the duo Rua and now her work with the debut recording of Shishonnah.
Jenne Lennon’s musical attributes continue to pave the way for a successful career as well. The singer/musician has done extensive work throughout Chicago, both performing and teaching. She has even added an appearance on an episode of MTV’s Stand In to her credit, performing with Sting. One of the more truly unique aspects of Lennon’s background is her acclaim as a Native American flute player. Another Illinois native that’s part of the collaborative team is Roland Labana who contributes to not just co-writing duties, but also behind-the-scenes work such as engineering and co-producing.
The soprano and mezzo-soprano (respectively) style voices of the Madden/Lennon pairing provide for an album that is overflowing with talent. Not only that, but the Madden-Lennon-Labana trio also contributed to the instrumental end as well with Lennon on the aforementioned Native American flute, Madden on tin whistle, and Labana on guitar. Each of these members also provided piano and keyboard additions to the list of tunes.
There is a level of Irish influence within the tracks of Elysian Dreams that blends seamlessly with Native American beats providing that truly unique flavor. You will find the classic additions of a piano and harp only enhance this uncommon, yet diverse-sounding album whose songs range in variety from the more upbeat “Dance with the River” to the enchanting sounds of “Starlight Big Sky Mix” to my personal favorite, the very soulful acapella performance of “The Crossing.” The album’s personality cannot simply be summed up in one word. While it does have a certain feel to it, that feel only expands as you begin to explore each song individually.
Shishonnah has this uncanny knack for transporting the listener to a different time and place, which is very apropo considering the album’s title. Elysian Dreams, or Elysia specifically, refers to a place that’s an afterlife of heroes and the virtuous. What plays out on the album is a parallel to that; an audible realm of sorts that is nothing short of soothing to both the mind and soul. There are few recordings I can recall that have this effect with its almost magical delivery. If there is a critique to be made here, it would be Lennon’s vibrato becoming a little too prevalent at times. Still, the overall feel of Elysian Dreams is so positive in its potpourri of strong vocals and magnificent instrumental combinations that the album is easily a worthy purchase.
- Dance With the River
- I Will Carry You
- I Am
- My Prayer
- Elysian Dreams
- Weaver of Life
- Highway Man
- Between Us
- Starlight Big Sky Mix
- The Crossing
- Paintings in the Sand