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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Review: Naree - Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Naree - Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
2009, Naree

Naree's life, to date, could be a Lifetime movie. The daughter of Thai and British parents who grew up in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates creates Alt-Rock that blends Rock, Classical, Indie and J-Pop styles. The heartfelt singer/songwriter has a talented edgy band by her side and the future looks bright for the 22-year old Berklee School of Music student. Looking at her today you'd never know she was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer at the age of 14. You'd never imagine the 15.4 lb tumor that was removed from her, or the blood clots, heart attack and multiple operations she endured. If you can't imagine any of this, you at least begin to understand why Naree shuns pretense and looks to the future with an optimistic spirit. For all she's been through, every day is a gift, and Naree lives them all to the fullest. This spirit is immediately evident on Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Naree's third release and first with a full band (Tony Song - lead guitar; Casey Marks - bass; Jaime Jimenez - keys, synth and Alex Santiago - drums). Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde also marks Naree's first foray into the production booth.

Opening with the title track, Naree sets the tone for the EP with an emotionally honest song about wanting to be out of a relationship because it's not what the narrator needs and yet not wanting to let go. It's a strong Pop/Rock tune with a good melody and could be something of an anthem for a lot of teen (and none too few adult) relationships. Life's Lessons is a more empowering song about not settling for less than what you want. The focus here is a man who is less than what the narrator needs and is given the heave-ho in no uncertain terms. The song is smart, strong and empowering without coming off as shrill or mean. Never Leave You Alone is another empowering tune, encouraging a friend or loved one to not give up on their dreams. It's a song of devotion and faith in another, spoken from the well of experience that Naree has accrued. It's a bit more powerful than your typical alt-rock song and sounds like a highly licensable song.

A Song Written On An Arm is a song of vulnerability in a relationship; Naree ponders walking away but seems trapped in the emotional conflict here. The Cello work of guest Marie Kim is stellar and ads an almost mournful sub-context to the song that is perfect. Deceive Me (Before We Get Too Close) has an element of feat that comes from being burned one too many times. Fearful of getting too involved and then getting hurt, Naree ponders self-protectionism based on this fear yet begins to accept the desire she feels. This is a great Alt-Pop tune with strong hooks and real commercial potential. Glamour Kills is a live recording of a song Naree originally wrote for the Glamour Kills song contest. It's pure Alt-Pop; highly infectious with the sort of chorus that could dominate pop radio.

Naree shows a great deal of range and talent on Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. She also shows the duality the title describes - a positive and forward looking soul with a dark, suspicious and self-protective side. This dichotomy creates a cognitive tension running throughout the EP that somehow magnifies through the lens of infectious Pop influenced Rock N Roll. The end result is a CD you'll have on repeat for days or even weeks. Naree has already been on a lot of stages, including open for Pink in front of 10,000 people in 2007, but after hearing Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde I think it's safe to say that Naree is one big break from the world stage.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn about Naree at or Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde is a forthcoming release, but an official release date has yet to be established. Keep checking Naree’s website or MySpace for more information. Naree does regular fundraisers for organizations such as the UK's Teenage Cancer Trust and the Terry Fox Run (Canada). Her T-Shirt, pendant and other memorabilia sales fund her own Pick Life Cancer Foundation, which donates funds to Teenage Cancer Trust and other worthy organizations.

(Photo by Helene Norton-Russell)

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