Gina French | Of Rapture

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Of Rapture

by Gina French

Passion - fused rock, world, blues, and pop elements, which are wrapped up in French's soaring and soulful voice. Featuring first-rate band accompaniment, it is an undeniably soul-filled effort, which results in a highly powerful album.
Genre: Rock: Modern Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Hard Way
3:01 $0.50
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2. Break The Silence
5:14 $0.50
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3. Of Rapture
5:53 $0.50
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4. Spring's Angel
6:09 $0.50
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5. Something About The Night
3:56 $0.50
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6. Rings True
6:04 $0.50
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7. Only For You
5:50 $0.50
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8. Spanish Lace
4:09 $0.50
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9. Midnight Tracks
4:42 $0.50
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10. November Days
4:37 $0.50
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11. Unleash
10:49 $0.50
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Of Rapture, Gina French's Sophomore album, is a highly ambitious offering that is characterized by the kind of intensity one would expect to find on the most mature post-modern rock album.
A key element to the new direction this second album would take was manifested by French’s decision go primarily electric and use a solid backup band on most of the new material. This intensity reflects to what degree French’s artistic talents had grown during the intervening years that followed the release of Sacred Ground as well as her strong desire, in a musical sense, to reach out and conquer new territory. Notably, the musicians she brought on board for this project were some of the best session players in the greater Salt Lake City area, including Bill Frost (a.k.a. “Mr. Bill”) on guitar and Lance Lee on bass, and former Salt Laker-turned-New Yorker Adam Sorensen on drums. Other key performers included fellow singer-songwriter Stacey Board doing backup vocals and veteran session man Phil Miller playing saxophone. Interestingly, one standout track, “November Days,” features a different band entirely, which represents a reunion of members from the short-lived band known as November that French had been a part of in the 1980's, including Mike Doran on guitar, Sean Meade on drums, and Melissa Warner on bass and doing backing vocals.
Like Gina French’s earlier release, it is also a highly cohesive work. While the cohesion of her earlier album may have revolved around a rather abstract acoustic and subtle, almost dreamlike theme, it would appear that the theme found in Of Rapture is most overt, and that is clearly an intense Passion. Its colors are hues of red, which are implicit in both the cover artwork as well as in French’s songs, which range from hard-driving, sensual and fiery rockers to hypnotic, world-beat tinged numbers and then all the way to strident atmospheric homages to a special child as well as to a band and a place in time when one’s course in life was set. She says that right before the year 2000, when she started planning the album, she thought it would be “sort of a bluesy rocker, and the world music concept was not part of the mix because I hadn’t written those songs yet.”
“Then I wrote the song “Of Rapture” in 2000. It was a fluke that came from out of the blue. So then I thought, this album’s going to be a bit different. And so, synchronicity again came into play.”
French had been struck by the images in the Oscar-winning movie, The English Patient, and had been especially moved by the effect of the plaintive and ethereal, Eastern-sounding quality of the ethnic singer whose voice was featured at crucial moments (Hungarian folk singer, Marta Sebestyn) of the film soundtrack. So that sound was on the back of her mind, where it eventually made a cerebral union, of sorts, with another bit of music that had also struck French in a similarly profound way, the sound of the exotic Middle Eastern vocalist (the famous Algerian “Prince of Rai,” Cheb Mami) in Sting’s 2000 world music hit, “Desert Rose.” So after that, unbeknownst to her at the time, these two elements began a subconscious incubation in Gina French’s mind, with the end product down the line destined to become the award-winning title track to her new album.
Of Rapture was the end result of four years of intense studio work and demanding songwriting.

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Reviews


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Admiral Grainne O'Malley the Pegleg - Slug Magazine

Gina French = Emmylou Harris + Robert Johnson + Dead Can Dance
Gina French has more soul than Al Green french-kissing Tina Turner. She is the only folk artist I know that takes the sexiest parts of the blues, rock and alt-country and mixes it with Middle Eastern scale progressions. She then lathers everything over with hedonistic amounts of Bill Frost slide guitar, growly, yowly vocals that wail and zing like the whine of cupid’s deadly arrows, transcendent chord changes and heart-of-darkness acoustic strumming. Zithery Indian sounds color up "Of Rapture" and "Rings True," and old-time country flavors give "Spring’s Angel" a nostalgically bittersweet edge
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Todd McDonald

Like a kid waiting for Christmas- what a treat!
Ms. French has taken four years to complete this collection. The time has been well spent and has perfected this CD. It is polished, cohesive and an absolutely wonderful listening experience. The Middle Eastern influences on the title track and Rings True really add to the pleasant journey through the CD. Gina assembled some wonderful local musicians who add passion that is very evident throughout the CD. There certainly is something for everyone on Of Rapture from Blues (Midnight Tracks) complete with slide guitar to Spring's Angel- a very passionate folksy song about the joy that people bring to our lives. Bottom line- I love this CD!!
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Eddy Zenn

An explosion of passion and sensuality
Gina's new album "Of Rapture" sends the listener on a world journey without ever leaving the confines of one's private space. From the desert sands of ancient Persia to the concrete jungle of a modern day metroplis. In this day and age of "Band-in-box" sugar-coated pop music it's so refreshing to hear an album that transcends the listener to new heights of sensation and experience. Gina's vocals scream out heated sexuality while her guitar playing comforts the soul like a long, lost friend. Add to that the serious talents of Bill Frost (lead guitar), Lance Lee (bass) and Adam Sorensen (Drums) "Of Rapture" is a must-have addition to any music collection.
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Jennifer Layton - Indie - Music.com

I was a goner the second I heard Gina French's voice.
How could I resist this album title? Or the multi-layered romantic cover art, which turned out to be a perfect representation of the music inside? And as if that weren't enough, I was a goner the second I heard Gina French's voice.

I had to go back and play the first song again as soon as it ended because I'd spent most of it trying to describe that voice. I'll let this do for now: Imagine Shirley Manson had a little sister with the same sneer and the same wild spirit, but with an exotic sense of romance and sensual abandonment normally found in gothic novels. Longtime fans will protest that this description barely scratches the surface, but hey, I'm new to this one. Give me a break. Besides, you guys already used up the best words in your fan comments on CD Baby: "Bewitching," "intense," "reflective," "growls and smolders." Come on, people. Don't make me spend all night hunting around on Thesaurus.com.

The opening track, "Hard Way," is a straight-up rock ballad with some magical threads woven through it. In this particular song, I'd describe her delivery as "pure rock chick," but French is just getting warmed up. In each song that follows, we get smooth grooves, exotic stirrings, feline purrings, and images that seduce the mind's eye. From "Break the Silence":

Tight rope walking over this black hole existence
Sends you into a state of disarray
Like a fiery tidal wave
You've got to let it give way ...

The title track is a glorious, expansive, Middle-Eastern influenced love song that had me looking up the definition of a "dumbek." (It's a Turkish, goblet-shaped drum, played lightly with the fingers rather than the palms. Just the sensual playing style needed for that instrument makes it a perfect choice for this music.) French lets her heart roam wherever it wants, unapologetically throwing in a surprising bit of twang in "Spring's Angel" and a duet with her voice and an electric guitar in "Spanish Lace." From beginning to end, this album is a rising tide of mystic energy that narrowly skirts New Age territory and goes right for the gritty rock and roll vibe. (Eat your hearts out, CD Baby fans.)

I had to smile when I heard "Something About the Night," as French seems to have written her own CD review:

After hour rhythms stir the primitive in me
Steel sounds, lively crowds
Then it all kicks in
Something about the night
Brings on this surrender ...

Really, that's all you need to know.
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Jeff Von Ward

The Rapture Starts Now
Listening to the new Gina French album is like discovering a corsage pressed in the cover of a favorite book. Of Rapture is at once more fully imagined and no less evocative than Sacred Ground, Ms. French’s auspicious 1997 debut. In both albums, Ms. French’s voice cuts like an angelic instrument wielded by a True Believer against the incredulous, two parts Michael and one part Mephistopheles. Shaken, possibly and certainly stirring.
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Ms. French’s gift is to turn a phrase that begins with the worshipful frequencies of a church choir fully up on its end, into a low libidinal growl. The title song “Of Rapture” captures this Bedouin ambiguity beautifully. Like the wanderlust of Ibn Fattouma, the wonderfully imagined hero of Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz--a traveler and a seeker--the song is both exotic and sweeping in make up, evoking a romantic and unknown (non-existent?) land while also embracing the operatic structure of the recent songs of Ian Anderson’s seventies prog-rock band Jethro Tull.
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Songs about trains are as abundant as they are clichéd but Ms. French brings something new to this genre. “Midnight Tracks”, another standout track, starts with the low hum of a radio broadcast phasing into frequency as the driver rounds a hill and comes in range of a reception tower. The song builds slowly in intensity with brush drums and tight bluesy guitar refrains. Ms. French’s vocals are gravel thrumming wheel wells. The song reaches a hot pitch as the narrator professes a need to roll on and then it quietly dissipates.

//

In her sophomore album, Ms. French herself embraces the challenge of moving beyond the simple economy of voice and acoustic guitar, though not always successfully. In songs like “Rings True” and “Spring’s Angel”, the sonic landscape seems unnecessarily arid, the songs too languorous for their own good. “Spring’s Angel” may be a cousin to u2’s “Running to Stand Still” with its mournful slide guitar but the song never really breaks out of its dour skin.

//

On the other hand, “Something About the Night”, a luminous blues number, may be Ms. French’s most successfully imagined creation yet. The song bristles with intensity and primeval imagery. It’s like a road trip or a drag down Main, a secret meeting of lovers through a trace of neon colors, photographed at breakneck speeds during magic hour or dark or dawn. You can smell the octane and feel the adrenaline. It’s a song about both seizing the moment and perhaps also letting go, embracing the axiomatic and the unknown like the great Fauvist painters did one hundred years ago.

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The chorus of “Break the Silence” will pierce even the most hardened skeptics’ heart. A reed instrument offers counterpoint to the more vulnerable sounding refrain of the lead vocal. It made this reviewer think immediately of Oliver Sacks’ Awakenings, the heartbreaking and true story of a group of patients who come briefly alive after having spent thirty years in a coma. While Ms. French is probably not referring to the dopamine receptors of our brains, when she sings, “open up the floodgates, yeah! Open up the floodgates, yeah!” the song is certainly about the redemptive and cathartic power of change.
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Speaking of second comings, “November Days” is a personal guilty pleasure of this reviewer as it successfully reunites most of the original members of a short lived band called November fronted by Ms. French in 1989 and gives us an inkling of what they might sound like if they were still around today. The song sounds nothing like the other songs on the album—and why would it, having been recorded by an altogether different group of musicians. Jarring as that may seem, it actually serves as a nice chapter book near the end of the album. Mike Doran delivers his unique staccato of guitar, including a sublimely imagined lead on the song’s bridge. Sean Meade provides an unpretentious rhythm. Melissa Warner and Gina French harmonize like hydrogen and oxygen molecules combining to make water.

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While November wrote and recorded little and played live even less, it was-- in hindsight, at least--a watershed moment of sorts for many of its founding members, allowing each an opportunity to learn, grow and later pursue their unique muse. “November Days” celebrates this ephemeral moment while giving maudlin props to the importance of acknowledging our antecedents.
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This reviewer, a biased former member of the band in question, enthusiastically notes (and with some envy) the wonderful accomplishments of his former band mates, not only the haunting and searching blues of Gina French in Of Rapture, but also the stunning alt country stylings of Melissa Warner and the progressive trip hop of Mike Doran’s Velvet Alex. Like the recent VH1 phenomenon, Bands Reunited, “November Days” posits a world of happy endings where music trumps ego, for one night only.
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Anna Maria Stjärnell - Collectedsounds.com

Bluesy sound and some fabulous songs.
Gina French has one of those voices that can sing just about anything and have you listening intently. On her second album she has a bluesy sound and some fabulous songs.

"Break the Silence" revolves round a strong guitar line and French singing of breaking free from constraints.

The title track was apparently inspired by the film "The English Patient" and it speaks compellingly of consuming passion. "You have awakened this world inside me one universe, with no boundaries I will give you full surrender" she sings.

The music sounds Middle eastern, no doubt thanks to the use of a dumbek.

The splendid "Something About The Night" rocks out, sounding like a subtler Bonnie Raitt. French's volcanic voice is in fine fettle as she sings of coming to life at night.

"Unleash" continues the theme from the title track, but perhaps a little less ecstatically.

We end with a bonus track, which turns out to be an early version of the title song.

This is a powerful record all round and one that would sell plenty in a fair world.
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Martin Renzhofer - Salt Lake Tribune

"Of Rapture" by Gina French - Grade: B+
With Of Rapture, Gina French sheds her introspective acoustic persona for that of a growling, howling rocker. The intense, reflective lyrics that highlighted her 1997 debut, Sacred Ground, remain, but this time she has framed them with electric guitars, exotic woodwinds and a percussive back beat. The album, which took four years to complete, flows from song to song, held together by French's personality. Her core group of musicians include guitarist Bill Frost (some of his most tasteful work) and a rock-solid rhythm section of bassist Lance Lee and drummer Adam Sorensen. Even though the album was created in a piecemeal fashion, it remains delightfully full-blooded.
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transcenderarts


my appreciation for the vocal talent of gina french is of such a high level as to plan to have that voice on my next release
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Randy Harward - Salt lake City Weekly

GINA FRENCH - Of Rapture
Songstress Gina French’s second album in seven—count ’em, seven—years features a full backing band, a palpable rock edge and sleek production by Tom Cram (ex of Honest Engine) but still comes across as charming as her solo acoustic debut, Sacred Ground. French’s voice remains a bewitchingly expressive asset and, in the hands of her band, the candid, well-smithed songs simply leap to life. Rapture? Yer darn tootin.’
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Stacey Board - Muse's Muse

Pipes and Passion
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: French has the pipes and the passion to kick butt on any pop diva soulfully warbling out there today. She has great power, range and understanding of dynamics. She is capable of both great strength and tenderness in her singing style.

She also has a great band backing her up. The players assembled here are tight and loose at the same time, all in the right way. They know these songs but they feel them too. They each compliment the songs and give them punch without ever overpowering the melody and song itself. They are a strong undercurrent throughout the CD.

And that brings me to the songs. Many of the songs like “Hard Way” and the exotic and swirling title track “Of Rapture” seem to growl and smolder out of your speakers. Then some like “Spring’s Angel” are truly gently sweet and moving.

OK that’s three things. French has tremendous pipes, a fabulous band and a rapturous collection of songs on “Rapture”. Got it? This is a powerful and highly enjoyable CD from start to finish.
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