Luna Rossa -
Sleeping Pills & Lullabies

(CD 2013, 43:51, Firefly Music FFMCD004)

The tracks:
  1- The Dark Room
  2- Heart On My Sleeve
  3- Mad About You
  4- The Book Of Love
  5- Scream At The Sky
  6- Leaving For The Last Time
  7- Fight Or Flight
  8- La Clef
  9- Rise Up
10- Cloud
11- Gasp


Anne-Marie Helder (guitars, keyboards, flute, vocals) and Jonathan Edwards (keyboards) are the two core members of the British band Panic Room, a band that emerged from the ashes of the first line-up of Karnataka after they had disbanded. The chemistry between these two musicians is not only proved in Panic Room, but also in Luna Rossa, a project of this duo. Of course Anne-Marie Helder still participates in Mostly Autumn either.

Sleeping Pills & Lullabies contains eleven strong compositions that show how talented these two musicians are. They can entertain an audience with a minimum of electric instruments. The album was chiefly recorded with instruments like the grand piano, acoustic guitar, Fender Rhodes piano, organ, Celtic harp, flute, autoharp, percussion and even wine glasses! In general the songs are mellow and laid-back having most of the time beautiful string arrangements. By doing so, these different pieces get more depth and the dramatic and emotional parts come even more to the surface.

The Luna Rossa Quartet who were responsible for this great string section, deserve a big compliment. They consist of Artem Kotov (violin), Rebecca Brown (violin), Ronan MacManus (viola) and Leah Evans on cello. Finally I have to mention Andy Coughlan (Cerys Matthews, Gary Numan) on double bass and Tim Hamill who was responsible for some parts performed on dobro, electric guitars and rhythm programming.

Sleeping Pills & Lullabies is an album about beauty and pain, peace and darkness, hope and despair, shortly: the highlights and low points of all human beings. The way Anne-Marie Helder and Jonathan Edwards wrote the music about these serious subjects has my deepest respect. It's just amazing how they transcribed the sometimes dark and sad aspects of our daily lives into music. Although the songs are basically played on the grand piano and the acoustic guitar, they never get bored. The melodies are marvellous and Anne-Marie's wonderful rich and versatile voice makes sure that you don't turn your CD player off before the last notes have died away! All tracks are worthwhile listening to the end and if you don't you'll miss some pretty good music! I don't mention any reference to the music of Luna Rossa; it's not because I don't want to, but because I can't! This is music in its own right!

I would like to compliment Anne-Marie Helder and Jonathan Edwards for recording an outstanding debut album with Luna Rossa. Sleeping Pills & Lullabies once again proves that sometimes less is more! This album is highly recommended to people who like to listen to an album without Mellotrons, electric guitars, fast rhythm parts and hardly any synthesizers. Just give it a try; you won't regret it!

**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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