In Sand Dancing, it is more than evident that Lenore Troia spends considerable amounts of time at her craft and is not without vocal and instrumental talent. The album, however, will not play well to musically sophisticated audiences. Hailing from Key West, it is evident from her mix of salsa, calypso and soft rock adult contemporary that her audience is mostly middle-aged vacationers who wander in and out of the lounges and beachside grilles that pepper the city.
The over-reliance on stock rhythms, digital sequencing and warehoused sounds detracts and distracts. Because of the cheese fills, painfully analog synthesized horns and wind instruments, and the hollow and tinny rhythm accompaniment It sounds like a Casio Demo. Plain and simple. It suffers from poor post-production and reliance on sound and midi synthesizers comparable to those found in generic sound cards.
Sequenced canned sounds are perfectly acceptable live. If the audience likes it, who cares? With the opportunity to craft incidentals and fatten up mixes through the use of live players, good post-production and a modicum of patience in the mix-down there is no reason an album should come out this flat. Especially if the artist has done 5 albums and 2 compilations previously. This added with her over-reliance on images of romance, the beach and the Florida Keys, causing the lyrics to feel forced and superficial.
The title track, Sand Dancing, may suffer from this the most. Playing like a smaltzy Cheryl Crow/Amy Grant collaboration, its synthesized music is downright distracting. It conjures a scary and strong image of retirees in Hawaiian shirts and spare tires, vacationers showing off their hair plugs and white double-knit pants, all grooving on a palm-shaded dance floor not having felt this cool since the Bee Gees broke up. For as smaltzy as it is, A Moment in Time does a lovely job of delicately mixing calypso and slow romantic grooves. Cuban Cigar is an interesting listen, but like the gimmick songs of wacky morning radio personalities hearing it once or twice is plenty.
Its Time to Live Again must come from the period before Stella got her groove back. It's Reggae is reggae in the academic sense. It has the off-beat 3 and 4 staccato, the island imagery and all the appropriate, albeit synthesized, instruments for an island band. Other than that it is as removed from Bob Marley as Jacob Marley. Her remake of Gershwin's classic Summertime is an interesting effort. For as deftly as she handles the blues musicianship, it lacks the swing that made the musical Porgy and Bess so groundbreaking.
Her instrumental medley of God Bless America and Ode to Joy to round out the album is a nice showcase of talent that is not as evident throughout the rest of the album. However, the inclusion of this song on the album seems to capitalize on patriotism in the wake of 9-11. Maybe it's a nitpick, but of the hundreds of patriotic songs to be recorded and redone since 9-11, not a lot of the artists seem to be willing to share the proceeds, or even a few inches of liner notes, to the people most personally effected. There are no mentions that I could find in the literature of the album.
All in all Lenore sells her talent short with cheesily sequenced music, pedestrian phrasing and melodies and musicianship that for all its technical impressiveness does not seem challenged. It plays like pre-sequecned John Tesh piano offerings backing up Amy Grant or Michael Bolton all artists who could do more with what they have. I'm sure she is a crowd-pleasing lounge act, but rarely does this translate well to CD. She is best when she is expanding the sound with her blues influences. When we hear it in the melodies and phrasing of the music, we ache to hear it in the voice. Were this a first album I would give it high marks. But this is Lenore's fifth.
Post: Lenore Troia, c/o Seaquence Music, PO Box 1765, Key West, FL, 33041-1765
Phone: (305) 292-3722