Paula Cole - This Fire 
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by Jason Karsh   
Tuesday, 15 October 1996

This Fire, WB/imago
Performance Quality = 7 Sound Quality = 8

For those unaware of her 1994 debut, "Harbinger" the first thing you most likely heard about Paula Cole is that she used to be a back-up singer for Peter Gabriel and that the first single from this album, "Where have all the cowboys gone?" is climbing the charts. Well, both are true, but they only scratch the surface with regards to "This Fire". More a transitional piece than the wanderings of "Harbinger" this album seems to be the story of one woman's search. Yet, it's focus isn't about an end to that search, but rather simply the search itself. In this is where this album becomes magical. On songs such as "Me," "Hush, hush, hush," (featuring Peter Gabriel) and "Nietzsche's eyes," her soul searching vocals call out and take you along for a ride that explores both the peaks of pleasure and the depths of melancholy.

This album is both a remarkable example of a quality female producer/songwriter/vocalist and a recording job that was up to the task. A bad recording or mixing job can take even the best female vocalist and reduce her talents to that of demo-tape quality, thankfully heavy hitters such as Bob Ludwig (who mastered the ethereal "Carmen") and others get the job done the right way and the recording is as talented as this artist who seems primed to be considered among the best new female vocalists today.

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