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Arielle Dombasle by Era review

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It is not often we review a New Age music release where a famous French-American singer and actor has the lead vocal. But Arielle Dombasle by Era is such an album. She takes Eric Levi’s Era project to new heights, and give us the best Era album since their debut in 1994. It is also a total revitalization of the Era project.

French readers must have me excused, because the first time I read the title of the new Era album, I thought that Arielle Dombasle was some kind of enigmatic title, not a name. But reading the label’s description I soon realized that Eric Levi had teamed up with someone famous. Arielle Dombasle has a considerable solo career as a singer and a background as an actor (see the Wikipedia article about her). With such a fantastic vocal Eric Levi could do something incredible – and yes, he did!

I must also admit that I was very sceptical when I heard the first single and opening track, Ave Maria. The synth strings sounded extremely weak. Indeed, the whole Ave Maria version sounded fake; it was like every cliche about New Age music came to life in one song (and the below video did not hjelp). But as I continued my journey through the album I realized that there was a context here. Era’s versions of both Ave Maria, Cold Song – King Arthur and Adagio of Barber (Edit Agnus Dei), which are the three opening songs, set the mood in a very elegant way.

Era’s style has always been about grand emotions, Gregorian chants and the mixing of genres. With Arielle Dombasle’s vocal and the classic songs, we suddenly can hear the Era project’s full potential. How often can we say that about a release?

Talking about Era’s special sound, the following three songs are simply fantastic; Sins, Don’t take pleasure of my pain and the re-recording of After Time represent something brand new in Eric Levi’s project – yet still being 100 % Era. The sound is modern and fresh. Even the Gregorian chant sounds redefined somehow. Arielle’s beautiful vocal adds to the atmosphere, giving life to the lyrics.

Sadly the album is a little bit too short. One or two songs more would have given it a perfect length. That said, the last track entitled Thousand Words is not a good ending (Era has previously had strong ending tracks). It sounds like a filler in contrast to the other great tracks.

Arielle Dombasle by Era is a fantastic album, and one of this year’s finest releases. Era is still one of the best bands in New Age music, and Arielle Dombasle does a marvelous job. It sounds like a classics, even now only weeks after its release. 

95 / 100 – see how we rate music here.