REVIEW: ESTELLE MASKAME – ‘DARE TO FALL’ 22

After the phenomenal success of her DIMILY book series, some fans might have been concerned that Estelle Maskame couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to follow up the trilogy with something as strong when it came to her next release. Well, I’m pleased to report that she has indeed succeeded with her follow-up, Dare To Fall, and I can even go as far as saying it’ll win her an even bigger fan-base.

One of Estelle’s biggest strengths has been able to create characters all readers can identify with and such characters are littered throughout the pages of this book, with a heavy focus on family and friendships. I won’t go into specifics (if I do, there would be spoilers) but what I will say is that I personally identify with central character MacKenzie – someone with a close group of friends she can confide in and who, like so many of us in this world, has experienced a tragedy.

As someone who lost a loved one earlier this year, this book resonated with me strongly and I had it finished in less than two days. It may not have been a year since my loved one died but the reality is I already know that I’ll never be the person I was before I lost them again. Whether I’ll be a better or worse person a year from now or whether I’ll feel somewhat better in myself or life in general remains to be seen, but, regardless, this book has reminded me that all that we experience in life can be a lesson – need it be a good or bad one – and that no matter what, each and every day allows us to grow into someone more than we were the day before.

Dare To Fall is available online and from all good bookshops now.

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REVIEW: ORISSA – RESURRECTION 27

The sound of what sounds like chains which makes up intro piece “Circle X”gets Orrisa’s new album off to an interesting and atmospheric start and makes a refreshing change from the usual piano based interludes several albums in recent times have opened with, but when “Tara”, complete with impressive vocals and strong instrumentation kicks in, the collection shifts –albeit only for a few minutes – into high gear.

The rather sombre guitar of “Shades Of Grey” begins the closest thing to a ballad that the album features, while at the same time showcasing Orissa’s versatility– it’s a simplistic little number, but it says one hell of a lot. “Dissolution” brings back the heavier guitar and deeper vocals which rock fans will lap up however, clocking in at almost 8 minutes in length, the song is far too long and runs the risk of being cut off or skipped over completely.

“Psalm 1”, at 7 minutes and 12 seconds, has a similar problem, not at all helped by the lullaby-like introduction and a vocal which is surprisingly soft – at least until 5 minutes in when the tempo and the power with which the lyrics are delivered are both upped considerably. It’s not a bad track by any means, but it’s also not one likely to find itself put on repeat very often.

“Primordial” might as well have been left off the album all together. Consisting of little more than breathy air sounds and the odd rumble, its inclusion on the collection is likely to baffle listeners as much as it did myself. Fortunately “Verse V” gets things somewhat back on track thanks to a guitar lick sure to have many air-strumming to, however it is also the third number on the album to come in at more than seven minutes long. Once again, the piece is longer than necessary and distracts from the strong musicianship presented to those who hear it.

It’s also a shame, although admittedly not that surprising, to find that closing number “Blue Communion” is yet another long track – in fact it’s the longest on the album by some considerable margin. While it works as a showcase of Orissa’s talents, its length once again means it runs the very likely risk of dis-interesting – perhaps even boring – those who check it out.

REVIEW: JESSICA DOMINGO – ‘MOONPLAY’ EP 17

Jessica Domingo is a Seattle-based alternative R&B/pop artist who in the past few months in particular has seen her following across social media platforms rocket exponentially, and she’s currently riding high on a wave of success thanks to her latest EP, Moonplay.

Starting things off with the rather subdued “Sleep” – with its stripped back instrumentation – might not have been Domingo’s best idea but the track does showcase her smooth and soulful vocal which alone makes the song worthy of repeat listens.

“No Good” follows along a similar path, meaning the two songs at times sound almost like copies of one another, but “F.N.S.” picks things up somewhat and gets the collection on a much more stable path (metaphorically speaking at least).  “Electrical Desire” meanwhile has a slow-burn of a toe-tapping rhythm and once again it’s Domingo’s vocal that makes the track shine.

The ballad “Echoes” is undoubtedly the stand-out number on the EP and addresses first-hand the many difficulties that can come from and with long-distance relationships. It’s a raw and honest account of a hard time in Domingo’s own life and she should be duly credited for being brave enough to write about the experience and share it with the world.

Closing number “Wonderland” could have easily been missed off the collection and it’s inclusion means the EP ends on a rather demure note. The vocal is breathy, almost lost at times under the instrumentation, and while it might work as a track to unwind to after a difficult day, ultimately, it’s the weakest song on the collection and makes for a somewhat disappointing end to the latest piece of work from a talented artist.

For more information on Jessica Domingo, visit her website, give her page a like on Facebook, follow her on Twitter or check out her YouTube channel. Moonplay is available now.