I won't be surprised if people would tell me that they are not familiar with the music of the Polish singer Agnieszka Swita. Well, she had an important role in the two musicals written by Clive Nolan (Arena, Pendragon), namely She (2008) and Alchemy (2013). With the help of Nolan (keyboards, backing vocals) − who obviously has a leading role in her musical career − she recorded her first solo album Sleepless in 2014. The other musicians are guitarist Steve Harris (Ark), bassist Andy Faulkner (Jump) and drummer Dave Mackintosh (Dragon Force). The mix and mastering was in the capable hands of Karl Groom (Threshold).
Something To Believe, the opening tune of the album is a typical song for the musical style of Agnieszka Swita: up-tempo soft rock with clear lyrics that are easy to understand. Well, this is a nice and positive start. The first part of the triptych Cosmo called Code Of Humans starts slightly slower, but it soon builds up to a smooth rock song. The transparency both in the sung passages and the music is of an excellent quality; every detail can be heard clearly. Listen to the pounding drums, the electric guitar and the close harmony singing. The end of the song is in the vein of Arena. Disclosure, the second part of Cosmo, is a logical continuation of the first part. Of course Swita's voice is leading, but Nolan's synth solo is the icing on the cake. The last part Asylum can be called a one hundred percent Arena-proof piece only this time with a sparkling female voice. You may also compare it to the music of Landmarq featuring Tracy Hitchings.
Borderland is a perfect ballad from the beginning till the end; this piece really deserves a five star rating! The acoustic guitar, the brilliant synthesizer solo by Nolan, the melodic electric guitar solo and the excellent combination of the angelic voice of Agnieszka together with the orchestra repeating the verse over and over again, make this piece one of the highlights of this CD. Trapped is an energetic and powerful rock song that keeps you focussed during the full six minutes. It contains interesting lyrics about staying awake as dark elements trying to drag you into the eternal death. This piece sounds like a blend of Within Temptation and Epica. Scarlet has the same intro as many well-known Arena songs in which Agnieszka sings like Kate Bush in her heydays.
The up-tempo piece Back To Life again contains dark lyrics about death. It feels like being part of her personal nightmare. Even darker and more dramatic is In Her Arms. Only accompanied by a piano and an acoustic guitar Agnieszka Swita's doing her utmost to show her vocal capacities. In my opinion the guitar solo at the end makes it the absolute highlight of her debut album. The title track is the right song to end this excellent album with.
**** Cor Smeets (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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