Michelle Young – Marked For Madness

I was really looking forward to hearing this album after having heard Michelle’s fantastic voice on Leonardo. I’m one of those people who tend to read the credits before playing an album. Clive Nolan (Pendragon, Arena and just about the busiest person on the planet!), keyboards and production, Peter Banks (the original guitarist of Yes) on guitars, Doane Perry (Jethro Tull) on drums, Peter Gee (Pendragon) on bass, and the list goes on.

With such a list, it places the bar rather high. But I was not disappointed.

The interesting thing is that she didn’t have to ask any of the musician to play on the album they all volunteered to do so. Considering her voice and talent, I would too if she asked me. And I’d do it for free.

The album flows on like a well orchestrated opera. Spider’s Thread is probably my favorite song on the album. Her voice is so… indescribable. It picks you up and takes you into a private place where she displays her emotions. Very profound. Followed by an instrumental track which keeps the emotional level high.

Next, First Light literally takes you by surprise. The vocals are male. Great voice, you’re just not expecting it.

The Hope trilogy also brings you into many directions. Encouragement in particular feels like a Knight’s horseride toward the castle to rescue the beautiful princess. Well, at least that’s the imagery that came into my mind (and I’ve never staked a claim on sanity).

Mystery Man Summoned reminds one of the glory days of another extraordinary singer: Kate Bush. Like I always say, if you’re going to be compared, might as well be compared to the best. Here Michelle does things with her voice which are probably illegal in certain countries…

As I said, it reminds one of Kate as far as tone goes and the sort of things she does, yet it’s not Kate, it’s distinctly Michelle.

Pull the Wool is another interesting piece. Lots of indistinct whispering, people saying things seemingly unrelated while the music in the background keeps on rising and rising. Until the “real” vocals come in with some finger snapping percussion.

Walk in the Light brings you back into some semblance of normality. Brilliantly demonstrating the full richness of her beautiful voice, until she comes back into some Kate Bush genre vocals again before coming back to herself. If you need a single song to demonstrate what an awesome voice she has, this is the one.

The closing song Toujours ensemble, has Michelle singing in French. And a fine job of it she does too. A song which shouldn’t fit on the album as it’s an acoustic piece which, musically, does not resemble the rest of the album. Yet it does fit in quite nicely. After a voyage through her world, it relaxes you and gently brings you back to Earth.

An hour long trip through Michelle Young’s universe is a voyage you’ll want to take again and again. Not just an incredible voice, but also a superb songwriter. On an album which is done superbly. I always said there aren’t enough talented women in this business. Let’s encourage the ones that are there. Start with Michelle Young.