"Scorpion Moon" is New World Music from singer/songwriter Sora. Sora is an artist with stories to tell, not just to entertain, but to stir emotions and connect the imagination with the Old World of the Ancient Celtic and Desert Lands with all the drama of romance, hope, and tragic ambition.

Sora does favor the sound of her main influence, Canadian composer/singer Loreena McKennitt. Vocally, Sora has a warm classic tone and creatively, she has a tremendous range of colors, stories, and impressions to fill several future classic recordings. “Scheherazade (Scorpion Moon)“ brims with elements found in film music scoring -- an epic adventure of the ancient past. The rhythm is the heartbeat and core of Sora’s music.There are contrasting textures of delicate arpeggiated plucked harp, middle eastern wind instruments, the warm tone of virtuoso cello, and thundering war drums. Sora has a warm and beautiful classic/Celtic style. The lyrics express desire of love and refuge from a savage outside world.

The dance of “Savage” explodes with the sound of the hand drum, guitar, flute, and cello, which are nice additions to this piece. The choral vocalise that Sora weaves really completes this. At this point, I must give props the excellent production values on the entire CD. The standards are high, and the performances are masterful. The amount of care and detail that went into this recording is very impressive.

“The City” caught my interest because the intro was in the meter of 7 beats. The voice piano and harp combination works over some very interesting chord changes that move to unexpected places at interesting times. I especially like the tempo changes, and the dreamy overdubs Sora layers with her vocals.

I have always liked the sound of the Celtic flute. One of my favorite selections was “The Tower”, and I enjoyed the piano and the waltz tempo with the layered harmonies with which Sora told the story of Rapunzel.

“Scorpion Moon” is a tremendous CD. I give it 5 stars!

 

 From the first exquisite note in Scorpion Moon, Sora takes us into a world of fairy tales, heroes and villains, all with an overriding pulse encompassing so many differing genres of music in that it cannot be attributed to one particular style; perhaps a unique style of her own with the rhythms of so many styles melding to produce a blend with an almost hypnotic seduction of sound. A beautifully mesmeric album created from ancient and modern influences woven into a unique musical tapestry which reaches deep within to times before memory and perhaps times still yet unknown.

CD Review – Scorpion Moon, by Sora

The Canadian songstress’s latest album is a great showcase for her vocal and compositional abilities, taking pages so to speak from sources as diverse as ancient myths and children’s fairy tales.

Sora’s lyrics are full of vivid imagery and heartfelt emotion, inspired as they are by her passion for literature and her strong stance on love and relationships.

Sora breathes life into these poetic musings with her supple voice, which commands your attention with its stream-like fluidity and in-your-face (in a good way) urgency. She has a unique style all her own, which is refreshing in the current climate of unreasonable facsimiles and unflattering imitation.

The songs are also richly adorned with solid, sparkling instrumentation. In addition to playing piano on one track, Sora has assembled a fine ensemble of musicians. This exquisite group takes the music effortlessly through a variety of genre forms, including pop, new age, Celtic, classical, and orchestral.

For those looking for a different listening experience, the CD provides a welcome detour from the usual expectations.

‘Scorpion Moon’ from Sora - inexorable passion and ‘siren-song’ temptation(April 14, 2013)

I first heard Sora’s dazzling voice back in 2009 on the album Heartwood – and thought it would be hard for her to outshine that album for sheer ethereal, fragile yet immediately moving and potent vocals. No problem, with ‘Scorpion Moon’ she has done just that. From the outset you’re pulled inexorably into the passion and majesty that surrounds Sora’s ‘siren-song’ temptation. There are no rock costs waiting for the unwary traveller within this songstress’s enticement, simply the depth and breadth of her songs.

Within ‘Scorpion Moon’ there are 11 of Sora’s explorations in song that travel through the shadows of myths, to wander through experiences and memories of desperate longing, intense love and powerful desire. As before, I call this ‘music to listen to’ – and I don’t mean over the in-car system while the world charges past your window. To luxuriate in the true attraction of Sora’s voice you sit down, switch off the phone, ignore the world and do nothing but listen.

‘Scheherazade’ opens the album and with the essence of those persuasive stories holds you enthralled. Among the other charms are the elusive spell of ‘Hiraeth’, the searching truth of ‘Hero’ and the intense feeling of ‘Mermaid Song’. The realisation of breaking free and standing your ground within the narrative of ‘The Tower’ is palpable, as is the pure understanding of death and all it means about moving on rather than ending encapsulated by ‘Moving On’.

Sora lives and breathes her songs, pouring her soul into each one. Take the time to surrender to the embrace of ‘Scorpion Moon’ and share the path.

Sora Creates Another Gem! 
Creating a new album following the success of her critically acclaimed recording Heartwood was no easy task for Calgary singer and songwriter Sora, but she has managed to conjure up another gem with the release of her latest album Scorpion Moon.

Under the guidance of producer Douglas Romanow, who Sora also worked with on Heartwood, she has continued where Heartwood left off, putting together another collection of songs about myths and legends, children's stories, archetypes and other fascinating subjects. To accomplish this, Sora utilized a diverse assortment of instruments, including some unique ones like the erhu and the charango. I particularly liked the influence of the cello and the harp on the sound, as it makes the music more mystical and magical. But the instruments never overpower Sora's radiant voice, which varies from strong and powerful to light and airy depending on the mood of the song. I am sensing too that Sora's sound is becoming more and more all her own, and less like her core musical influences. Her goal is for her songs to be stories of what it means to be human, and this certainly comes across as you listen to Scorpion Moon.

Of particular note on this recording is the ethereal opening track "Scheherazade", which is subtitled Scorpion Moon. Other notable tracks on the album include "Mermaid Song", "Hold", and "Moving On". However all of the songs on this disc are enjoyable and tie nicely together, showcasing not only the talent of the singer, but of the guest musicians as well. It's difficult to categorize this style of music, as the lines between new age, Celtic, folk, and even classical are blurred, but this blending of styles only serves to make the album appealing to a more diverse group of listeners. You will be left wanting more. Bravo Sora!

SORA STORY SORT OF A FAIRY-TALE: NEW CD BY EXCITING SINGER

I guess I believe in fairy-tales. I heard this new album (Scorpion Moon) by the Canadian singer and composer Sora (she just goes by the one name -- move over Madonna). I was knocked out by her voice so I went online to find out more about her, and I read that even though she grew up playing the violin and piano, she did not start singing until much later in her life. No one thought of her as a singer, but she had ideas for songs (melodies and lyrics), so she started singing them. And lo and behold a new voice was unveiled to the world. Now she has her fourth recording released.

There is another reason Sora makes me believe in fairy-tales. Her lyrics are often based on fairy-tales and other age-old stories. For example, “Proof of Life” was inspired by “The Velveteen Rabbit;” “Mermaid’s Song” derives from the “The Little Mermaid” story by Hans Christian Anderson; “The Tower” takes another look at Rapunzel’s story; and “Piper” has its roots in the tale of children following a flute-player. Sora also was inspired by “One-Thousand-and-One-Nights” and writes other tunes about heroes, savages and the feeling Welch people have when they are homesick or nostalgic.

Sora comes out of the Loreena McKennitt and Sarah McLachlan school of Canadian singer-songwriters who have a hint of Celtic music about them. Sora has, perhaps, a more powerful and operatic voice than those two, but like them, Sora’s vision is unique and her voice is high, pure and distinctive.

Sora’s music is well worth checking out. It is always a pleasure to find a new, exciting, worthy musical talent out there...sort of a dream come true.

Sora – SCORPION MOON: If you haven’t listened to any new age music lately, Sora’s full-bodied vocal/instrument songs would be a wonderful place to visit. “City” is a full-bodied tune that I fell in love with right away; it will carry you to new heights as you soar over rooftops you never even knew were there! Lots of harp and string sounds to help you keep the dream alive and well, no matter what your current trials and tribulations may be. The tune that was most attractive for my ears was “Piper.” There’s no doubt as you listen to Sora on this one that she is drawing you into her spell and will keep you there for the long term. Is it jazz? Definitely not – but the energy levels Sora achieves through her magical performance make it transcend all “genre boundaries.” I give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97. Get more information about each of the songs at Sora’s page for this CD.

Artist sets music to the imagination

In her newest album, Scorpion Moon, Canadian-born artist Sora takes her listeners on a journey across fields and mountains, to an impassioned world born of her imagination.

Her album is unlike anything out in mainstream music today, and still vastly different from alternative music; so different it’s practically genreless.

Sora’s voice is rich full of kings and queens, battles, stories and fervor. Although her songs don’t mention medieval qualities, they are deep and smoky with the substance and sound you would find in such a story.

Her vocals have great range and each song keeps a good rhythm without needing the lyrics to rhyme in convenient places, something that’s being taken for granted lately.

Over and over, in each song Sora displays an unparalleled talent for storytelling.

The tracks are mystical sounding, accompanied by perfectly matching arrangements match the moods of the songs. Harps add mysticality. And in other tracks, such as Hireath, drums are used to add a little edge and elements of tension and danger.

However, no song has just one atmosphere; Sora manages to weave different moods and atmospheres, just like in actual stories. The songs have plot.

Sora’s tracks also feature unique lyrics, and in this case unique is not a polite term for weird. With the popular musical world perforated with love songs filled with babies, shorties, girls and cowboys, yes, even the wonderful country genre is not immune to the patterned formula.

Sora has managed to slip back to a time of epic stories and ballads without losing a sharpened, modern edge.

Sora’s music is hard to grasp with the written word, but for those looking for something different it’s definitely worth a listen.

Canadian vocalist and songwriter Sora presents Scorpion Moon, an album featuring her mellifluous voice, and emotional lyrics that transcend time and place. A holistic fusion of genres, Scorpion Moon touches upon the wonder and the sorrow of life itself, and evokes an air of inscrutable mystery, akin to the ancient myths and fables it draws inspiration from. Highly recommended, especially for connoisseurs of unique and original musical treasures.

The tracks are "Scheherazade (Scorpion Moon)", "Hiraeth", "Hero", "Savage", "Mermaid Song", "City", "The Tower", "Hold", "Piper", "Proof of Life", and "Moving On".

From the first exquisite note Scorpion Moon, Sora takes us into a world of fairy tales, hero’s and villain’s, all with an overriding pulse encompassing so many differing genres of music in that it cannot be attributed to one particular style; perhaps a unique style of her own with the rhythms of so many styles melding to produce a blend with an almost hypnotic seduction of sound.

Commencing with the timeless tale of Scheherazadewe are lead into a world of lyric and sound based on many of the traditional fairy stories well known to many, each story having its own unique pearl of wisdom hidden inside the words or legend told.

With her powerful , yet subtle vocal range each track is delivered with a quintessential fillip of emotion placing each piece in a class of its own, allowing the words to tell the story of love, emotion, light the and dark.

A beautiful mesmeric album created from ancient and modern influences woven into a unique musical tapestry which reaches deep within to times before memory and perhaps times still yet unknown.

Over the last decade, Alberta-raised singer Sora has made a strong showing with two albums and an EP. The success of her Celtic influenced melodies and narrative lyrics only continues on her third album Scorpion Moon, slated for release Feb. 28.

There is a great deal to enjoy on this album, but the vocals stand out most. Sora’s voice is strong, clear and melodious through all 11 tracks. There’s very little in terms of editing, allowing the simple-yet-beautiful tones of her vocals to shine through. Accompanying Sora is a small instrumental group that engrosses the listener without being overbearing or overwhelming her.

The music is calm and flowing; it will help to relax you on a quiet night. Each song has a strong narrative presence, with Sora taking inspiration from various folk and fairy tales like “Rapunzel.” Each track’s instrumentals strongly complement the narrative and mood of each song.

As a whole, Scorpion Moon works well. Each song flows into the next, continuing themes of fantasy and wonder as they are explored in Sora’s lyrics. Standout tracks are hard to pick out, but there is enough variety to keep the listener’s interest thanks to change-ups in the instrumentals. For instance, the transition from the track “Hold” and its deep strings to “Piper” and its more prominent percussion is subtle, but done with enough care so that the switch from one song to the next does not cause the album to lose momentum.

Ultimately, the album is a narrative about the forces that shape us and the choices that must be made in order to stand on one’s own. Sora’s Scorpion Moon is a slow album, to be sure, and one that may not be your cup of tea if you prefer more energetic songs. But for those looking for a collection of sweet and soulful melodies, you can’t go wrong with this collection.

Move Enya over into a more operatic mode with a touch of Sarah Brightman, throw in some Kate Bush, garnish with elements of Kate St. John's Romantic sensibilities, and then backdrop with essences of Delerium, and you have Sora. Scorpion Moon is solidly in with the tradition of all those women, so you can also think Clannad, Annie Haslam, Sally Oldfield, and maybe Sonja Kristina. The music is all of a piece, as though a Romantic cycle covering aspects of a theme in episodic viewpoints. The Towerre-tells the Rapunzel folk tale from a modern feminist location while Scheherazade eschews the "farce of monstrous and kingly vice". The blend of instruments on the disc makes for atmospheres both lightly strange and familiar. Alongside the expected, you'll find erhu, dizi, penny whistle, riq, doumbek, and other exotica. The focus, though, is on sung narrative, and Sora's voice remains the sonorous needle threading the quilt together.

Mermaid Song slows down and sheds the more effulgent orchestralism for a ballad metaphorizing broken love for a mermaid's plight and call, an interesting pensee upon a nameless something that somehow rose despite the bewailed absent lover's gifts of trust and kindness. One is hard put to discern who's the betrayer, who the betrayed, if those estates even exist, but the lament is unmistakable, a Gothic plaint ethereal and pining. As far as I can tell, this is Sora's fifth release, and she's locked her territory in, treading a line between classical strains, Celtica, New Age, and World. The lyrics, though, are highly poetic and almost Victorian, the soft side, as it were, of steampunk. Compliments must be paid as this sort of exercise is dangerous, threatening the maudlin should control slip, should the artist slide into the easy way out, the cliché, but Sora handles the words and underlying philoso-emotional content masterfully, resulting in quite affecting mindsets. Don't approach this CD carelessly, don't take the spacily Byzantine beauty for only that, or you'll miss a lot.

Scorpion Moon, Canadian songstress Sora’s fourth studio album, explores instruments, stories and musical traditions from different countries and cultures. Her genre is self-defined as new world, as her sound compiles elements from Celtic, neo-classical, world and folk music. Many of her songs are interpretations of classic stories—the highlight of Scorpion Moon being the haunting “Mermaid Song,” which is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of The Little Mermaid. Other tracks explore themes of love, passion, misery and death. Ultimately, the album investigates what it means to be human.

No less than12 independent musicians created the instrumentation in Scorpion Moon. The low tones of instruments such as the cello and the djembe—a type of hand-beaten African drum—are balanced out by the soft bamboo flute and sharp penny whistle. These combined with Sora’s clear, soaring vocals make her music a refreshing break from the computer-generated pop that dominates the radio.

The album as a whole maintains a dreamy feeling, even though the individual tracks vary in speed and intensity. The visceral beat of “Savage” deeply contrasts with the sweet melody of “Hold,” yet both songs incorporate the same lush harmonies and full accompaniment that tie the album together.

Overall, Scorpion Moon is a musical journey through primal, human emotions that leave the listener hypnotized.

..."Her voice is absolutely beautiful, and the arrangement of sounds on the album is nothing short of masterful. Don’t even get me started on the lyrics, UGH. I’ll give you one example so that you may fully appreciate just how poetic and splendid the lyrics are: “Oh thousand nights forgive me this murderous pride morning betrays. Oh maybe my life will be redeemed to know, to know. To know that you love me.” Pretty great, right?"...

Sora is a singer/ songwriter from Calgary. In a postcard that was included with the CD when it arrived on my desk a couple of weeks ago, she describes her music as “a medley of world, new age and neo-classical (Loreena McKennitt meets Sarah Brightman). I call it new world music.” The influence of both those artists are evident in Scorpion Moon,her 4th album.

Blues and rock & roll are more my comfort zone, but this is a decent listen. The neo-classical tag fits, and the spiritual flow of Scorpion Moon feels quite new age-y. It came as no surprise to note in her bio that Sora has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, along with a deep interest in mythology, fairytales, feminism and society’s collective consciousness. As a singer she is quite reminiscent of Brightman, and the dark Celtic undertones in a song like The Tower are rather appealing. Lyricist are supplied in the CD booklet so you can delve even deeper into each tale, should you so desire.

Scorpion Moon is not an album I will listen to often, but on a spare afternoon with nothing to do but dream, I can imagine having these songs surround me, Sora’s gorgeous voice an invitation to let go and find the desire to explore a universe other than the one I usually inhabit. Past, present and future, her songs have that kind of quiet power, and I will return.

TOP TRACKS: Scheherazade, The Tower, Savage

Tired of waiting for Loreena McKennitt to make another great album? Sora must have been too and declared herself up to the task going so far as to grab some Canadian arts council money to strut her stuff. An art chick to the core, she could easily be mistaken for McKennitt's younger sister. This set might not be ready to kick "The Mask & the Mirror"'s ass quite yet, but the lessons learned from that set have been well absorbed here. Give it a spin and see if this doesn't give you echoes of bonny swans and ladies of Shallot. Easily McKennitt updated for the daughters of a generation ago ready to leave EDM behind as kid stuff but still want a sideways taste of it.

Sora, singer/songwriter/Pianist from Calgary, Alberta released another album (her fourth) entitled, Scorpion Moon in 2013.

In the classical world Sora's lushly textured Celtic froth is known as light music. On this new album, she travels through time with a song cycle that romances verities that have vexed a pantheon of philosophers, from Homer to Umberto Eco.The classically trained Calgarian has launched this latest album with an integrated online package, and a gatefold CD package that includes a 20-page, four color booklet. (David Farrell) Here are the 11 song titles:Scheherazade (Scorpion Moon)-Hiraeth-Hero-Savage-Mermaid Song-City-The Tower-Hold-Piper-Proof of Life-Moving On

The album was produced by Douglas Romanow

A remarkable array of musicians help Sora on the CD and at times the music has classical qualities to it, is as enchanting as her lovely soprano voice. (Seaway News)

From her lyrics that read as poetry, to her ability to breath life into even the oldest stories, to her overworldly voice, this much is clear: you have never heard anything like Sora.

Atlantic Seabreeze gives this album top ratings on its rating list and we forsee that this album will move her on to the next level.

For more information regarding Sora and her music, refer to her website, address posted above.

January 25, 2013

In the classical world Sora’s lushly textured Celtic froth is known as light music. On this fourth release she travels through time with a song cycle that romances verities that have vexed a pantheon of philosophers , from Homer (not Simpson) to Umberto Eco. The classically trained Calgarian has launched this  latest venture with an integrated online presence, and a gatefold CD package that includes a 20-page, four colour booklet.

The light that Sora refers to is the inner light of the spirit. She sings in an operatic soprano, over Celtic-inspired arrangements. It would be easy to dismiss this music as new-age twaddle, and move on. Don’t make that mistake with Sora. She uses some electronics on her album, but the emphasis is on acoustic instruments. As heard here, the songs undergo subtle changes in texture as they go along. And her voice is a wonderful instrument. Light is, indeed about the spirit, but it also works as a solstice song, welcoming the new sun in the morning. Elsewhere, Sora shows in her writing a real sympathy for the characters of myth the she presents. Heartwood may express itself in new-age terms somewhat, but the album is a work of true feeling.

Sora ligt met ‘Heartwood’ in de lijn van Enya, maar is vocaal eerder een mezzosopraan.

Geboren en getogen in Calgery, Atlanta, Canada is Sora een klassiek geschoolde artieste op viool en piano. Dat zij hierbij ook nog eens psychologie studeerde wordt duidelijk kenbaar in haar teksten, waar de mythologie een centrale rol speelt. Sora pende de elf tracks netjes bij elkaar en componeerde ook nog eens het geheel. Ook de begeleiding van oa. Strijkers, cello, harp, vibrafonen, accordeon, Marxofonen, percussie en mandoline die hier perfect verweeft worden met de gebruikelijke instrumentatie, maken van ieder nummer een tijdloze song. De typische mystieke sferen uit de Keltische folk, vormen zo de rode draad doorheen een warm geheel. De titeltrack is een liefdessong, zowaar gewijd aan haar echtgenote. ‘Twilight’ werd een huwelijksgeschenk voor haar broer en diens echtgenote. Kan je, je nog een mooier huwelijksgift wensen? En zo draagt ieder nummer een duidelijk boodschap met zich mee. 

De wissel -en samen- werking tussen klank en Sora’s stemgeluid omhelst de oude traditionele en moderne
gevoeligheid.

Many comparisons will be made between Sora`s Heartwood and any of Loreena McKennit`s CDs, since both feature heavenly voices paired with both older and more contemporary instruments, spinning accessible melodies with Celtic and British Isles influences, as well as some early music, classical, and world touches. Heartwood could easily connect Sora to a much wider audience, which she soundly deserves. Her haunting, delicate voice conveys emotions effortlessly, whether the accompaniment is sparse or full, the mood uptempo, or sedate, or the lyrical content personal or mythical. Bonus. Full lyrics are included - hurray!

This album is a collection of beautiful, warm songs with excellent vocals. It boasts high production values, and a definite Celtic influence. This is very suited for fans of Enya and other acts of that ilk. The songs are a gorgeous blend of traditional instrumentation and slick, modern recording technology. Many of the songs are pure and relaxing, taking the listener to a bygone era. 

Sora is a Canadian artist with a truly poetic soul, as evidenced in the liner notes: `The music itself washes through me, as wind passes through the trees, but in doing so is imprinted by my spirit as it exits through my voice`. `Winter` hints at Tori Amos, and songs like `Drift` are heartfelt and atmospheric, loaded with gorgeous strings and an olde worlde charm. `Twilight` is also beautifully gentle. This album is, without question, a remarkable, well-crafted achievement.

Canadian artist Sora lists Loreena McKennitt as one of her greatest musical influences, a fact that is apparent on her latest musical effort, Heartwood. A beautifully put together collection of songs that conjure up druid celebrations and ancient royal courts, the album is reminiscent of McKennitt`s modern Celtic style. Inspiration aside, Sora is very much her own artist and Heartwood showcases her talents as both a singer and songwriter.

The title track is a great beginning to the album, and a wonderful introduction to Sora`s artistic abilities. She has a classically beautiful voice that can be strong, airy, or sorrowful. For the most part, Heartwood`s tracks are pretty, soothing songs that remind one of laughter, love, and sun-filled days. The album offers some variety with Sora delving into her dark side for a few songs

The best of these darker tunes is “Eurydice,” a haunting song that possesses a hypnotic beat and seductive lyrics. The instrumentals on the album are also well done, blending perfectly with Sora`s vocals. The violin and piano work is especially impressive on “Drift” and “Winter.” On both tracks, the music perfectly sets the tone for the listener before seamlessly weaving itself in with Sora`s voice, making for wonderful pieces of audio art.

The cover art on Heartwood is a simple photo of Sora, tinted in warm shades of brown and gold with some etchings behind her. Heartwood also features an insert booklet with the lyrics for each song—something I personally find extremely helpful—as well as photographs of whimsical items such as feathers, leaves, stones, and bits of ribbon. The earthy yet enchanting look reflects the tone of the album and gives the listener a good indication of the mood Sora is trying to set.

With its powerful vocals and mesmerizing instrumentals, Heartwood is an album that will not disappoint. Long-time Celtic fans and those new to the genre should find it a satisfying listening experience.

Sora refers to herself as both neoclassical and Contemporary Celtic, but neither of these quite capture the depth of her music. Some may even put her in the “new age” category. A mezzo-soprano, this woman’s vocals are pretty, pretty, pretty, and they capture a lot of emotion. This CD is filled with original songs, and you can tell that the Canadian artist has put thought and feeling into every moment here. It shows.

The singer also took some time to decide on the name she chose for herself as a performer. “Sora” was selected as she noticed that it had references to birds. Symbolism is something that this artist seems to take very seriously, and it is reflected in the words to her songs as well as her choice of name.

This album is worth listening to for the vocals alone. It is rare to hear a voice that just defines beauty. That said, the arrangement of the music provides the perfect foil and it all works together very smoothly. If you want to find a CD that will soothe you when things are tough, this may well be the perfect selection.

Some musicians are performers and some are true artists. It seems clear from every detail of “Heartwood” that Sora belongs in the latter category. Take a listen and you will be restored.

I put on Heartwood, the most recent album by Canadian singer/songwriter Sora, for a friend of mine and he said “I feel like I`m in Lord Of The Rings.” With Sora`s courtly style, Celtic influences, and operatic voice, she`d perfectly fit the soundtrack of a Fantasy epic. Relax and listen to these dreamy soundscapes and you may be transported to a dewy Irish briar, sprites and fairies fluttering about, or you might be bored out of your mind. Either way, don`t put this disc on during a party unless you`re trying to clear it out and get to bed.

On Heartwood Sora croons simple songs over lavish orchestrations. A string quartet meshes with chimes, harp, synths, accordion, various other instruments, and something called a Marxophone that sounds like a mandolin combined with a harpsichord. It`s a nice thick brew doused in reverb. I think Sora and producer/arranger Douglas Romanow are trying for an “enchanted forest” sort of backdrop. There`s a traditional Celtic core but it`s decorated with modern trimmings. You might hear something like this at a hippy-dippy women`s retreat. I`m not knocking the quality of it at all, though. The arrangements are really thorough and smart. It`s lush, soothing music and completely top-notch production. 

Sora`s first album was entirely folk songs of the British Isles, but all eleven tracks on Heartwood are original. Her style of writing is mostly traditional but a few inventive tricks stand out. The orchestration on “Hurricane” sounds fresh with some jangly electric guitar and a bit of eastern flavor. Bits of Tabla and Sitar-like drone sounds dot the song, and something that sounds like a flute (I think an accordion or synthesizer) plays cool jazzy licks. “Eurydice” slides back and forth between major and minor keys with an exotic-sounding melody (for the music dorks out there, it shifts between natural minor and phrygian major. Cool.). The lyrics shift between folk legends and personal stories. It`s all a balancing act between traditional roots and the creative juices of a hard-working singer/songwriter. 

ive Sora`s Heatwood a chance if you want soothing, earnest songs with high production value, or if your curious to hear a Celtic folk singer branch out and perform original songs. She`s a talented mezzo-soprano so fans of an operatic style may be more than satisfied. There`s a chance you`ll be bored to tears, but one person`s dull is another person`s soothing relaxation.

After a full day of stress, nothing is more relaxing than listening to Sora`s CD Heartwood.

`I am natural and enjoy organic design, music and writing. That is what inspires me...the feeling of fiery leaves falling around as you walk on an autumn day, a cherry tree full to the brim with blushing blossoms...my lyrics come from there. My ultimate goal in my music would be to create something that people could find themselves in; that they would want to listen to and get lost in.` 

Since releasing her first album Winds of Change in 2003, a collection of folk songs from the British Isles, her talents have been getting increasing support from industry and fans. In the year and a half that followed she began writing her own material, which led to the recording of a demo with Romanow in late 2006

Her creation Heartwood doesn`t contain any country or rock songs. Her voice carries her with soft background of harps, violins and piano. She has written all of the songs and has a solid future in writing and singing ahead of her.

Modal and medieval at times, epic and storytelling, Sora`s songs feature her voice, which is clear and bell like. Utilizing it as effectively as a solo violin, she sings her extremely poetic lyrics, which speak of woods and fairies, children and the seasons, but mostly of romantic love, with a particular emphasis on its angst. In one song she likens its dissolution to continental drift, complete with reference to tectonic plates. The musical settings are very lyrical and beautifully performed by a capable ensemble, though Sora herself, beyond singer, is composer pianist, and violinist. Undoubtedly the star of this offering is her voice and its artful setting.

La preciosa voz de Sora fue lo primero que me llamó la atención al comenzar a escuchar Heartwood. En cuanto pongas en tu reproductor este Cd, tendrás que esperar exactamente 31 segundos para empezar a disfrutar de la cristalina forma de cantar de esta artista de Canadá. Si te gustan Enya, Sarah Brightman, Sarah McLachlan o la también candiense Loreena McKennitt (referente musical reconocido por la propia cantante), da por seguro que te encantará a música de Sora. En Heartwood se mezclan, por un lado, los arreglos cercanos a la tradición musical celta, medieval, clásica y del Renacimiento y por otro la voz de la cantante, como imprescindible hilo conductor. El resultado es un profundo lirismo, la delicadeza y la seducción transformadas en música.

Como compositora los 11 temas del disco, e intérprete a los teclados en los temas Drift y Eurydice, la propia cantante, que nos ayuda a ponernos sobre la pista de su sensibilidad musical a indicar que cree firmemente en la influencia que tiene en cada uno de nosotros el entorno en el que vivimos, da como resultado temas de una profundidad poética de altos vuelos, como el tema ya mencionado, Eurydice (I died a thousand deaths, Tears flood the banks of my eyes...). Sintetizadores, glockespiel, vibráfono, violines, acordeón, stick, harpa, cello, mandolina, bajo eléctrico o marxófono (una especie de cítara fretless) son algunos de los instrumentos utilizados en Heartwood, donde han colaborado con Sora hasta un total de doce músicos, contando con la producción y arreglos de cuerdas de Douglas Romanow, dando colores diferentes a cada canción (The Birch`s Lament es más medieval, Light más celta y Winter es de una delicadeza extrema) 

Heartwood es un Cd mágico, lleno de sentimiento, un digno sucesor del primer trabajo de Sora, Winds of Change y perfecto complemento del EP titulado Light, que contenía 4 de los temas que después pasaron a formar parte de Heartwood. La artista dice vivir sumergida en un contínuo proceso de crecimiento y cambio, y, si ello es la clave de que sea capaz de transmitir tanta belleza a través de su música, personalmente espero que dicho rumbo vital consiga mantener viva la inspiración para que podamos seguir disfrutando en el futuro de nuevos trabajos. La preciosa voz de Sora fue lo primero que me llamó la atención al comenzar a escuchar Heartwood. En cuanto pongas en tu reproductor este Cd, tendrás que esperar exactamente 31 segundos para empezar a disfrutar de la cristalina forma de cantar de esta artista de Canadá. Si te gustan Enya, Sarah Brightman, Sarah McLachlan o la también candiense Loreena McKennitt (referente musical reconocido por la propia cantante), da por seguro que te encantará a música de Sora. En Heartwood se mezclan, por un lado, los arreglos cercanos a la tradición musical celta, medieval, clásica y del Renacimiento y por otro la voz de la cantante, como imprescindible hilo conductor. El resultado es un profundo lirismo, la delicadeza y la seducción transformadas en música.

Como compositora los 11 temas del disco, e intérprete a los teclados en los temas Drift y Eurydice, la propia cantante, que nos ayuda a ponernos sobre la pista de su sensibilidad musical a indicar que cree firmemente en la influencia que tiene en cada uno de nosotros el entorno en el que vivimos, da como resultado temas de una profundidad poética de altos vuelos, como el tema ya mencionado, Eurydice (I died a thousand deaths, Tears flood the banks of my eyes...). Sintetizadores, glockespiel, vibráfono, violines, acordeón, stick, harpa, cello, mandolina, bajo eléctrico o marxófono (una especie de cítara fretless) son algunos de los instrumentos utilizados en Heartwood, donde han colaborado con Sora hasta un total de doce músicos, contando con la producción y arreglos de cuerdas de Douglas Romanow, dando colores diferentes a cada canción (The Birch`s Lament es más medieval, Light más celta y Winter es de una delicadeza extrema) 

Heartwood es un Cd mágico, lleno de sentimiento, un digno sucesor del primer trabajo de Sora, Winds of Change y perfecto complemento del EP titulado Light, que contenía 4 de los temas que después pasaron a formar parte de Heartwood. La artista dice vivir sumergida en un contínuo proceso de crecimiento y cambio, y, si ello es la clave de que sea capaz de transmitir tanta belleza a través de su música, personalmente espero que dicho rumbo vital consiga mantener viva la inspiración para que podamos seguir disfrutando en el futuro de nuevos trabajos.

Sister, Sky, Singing Bird Soaring, Chirping Bird. All of these things are `Sora` and go some way to explaining this eclectic Canadian`s music. Although her debut album was a collection of UK Folk, Heartwood expands into new and more personal territory. 

There are obvious comparisons to musical influences Loreena McKennitt and Sarah McLachlan, but Sora`s mixed classical / folk background is perhaps her greatest asset here. Not only does she convey a real feeling in her songs, she also has the kind of vocal control which allows her mezzosoprano voice to smoulder in all the right places and literally `fly` when called upon.

Many of Heartwood`s lyrics express sadness, pain, missing people and places, but far from being a `sad` album, I would call it `melancholic`, requiring close listening to really appreciate its true emotional depths.

In short, this is an album that`s been a long time coming and it was definitely worth the wait. We look forward to seeing her do some concerts in Europe in the future, perhaps even in Sora, Catalonia ...

Lovers of New Age music will fall head over heels for Sora. Her haunting vocals will remind the listener of Loreena McKennitt or Sarah Brightman. Sora has a voice that soars with the angels. Her songs have a touch of magic and mystic to them that will have you fantasizing about fairies and unicorns or at least your local renaissance festival. 

Once you hear Sora’s voice, you’ll be converted. She’s got the kind of voice that you can’t help but listen to. There really isn’t a word that sufficiently does it justice; beautiful, stunning, remarkable, none of those seem to fit the bill.

Four of the songs on Heartwood appeared on her previous EP, Light. They are joined by seven other songs, that defy description. All of the songs on the album are composed by Sora, who is Andrea Hunt when she’s not performing. Once you give the album a thorough listen, you’ll know that she’s doubly talented. She has a voice that one would think came from some celestial being and she is a more than capable songwriter. The eleven tracks on Heartwood are pure poetry.

Heartwood opens with the title track, a song that was written for Sora’s husband Bryan. The first words of the song truly expresses her love. “I thread the forests of your eye. Wild paths within. Dappled sunlight moves us in circles. Gravity of a sigh.”

What sets these songs apart from those of her contemporaries is that they aren’t simply Celtic or New Wave or even World, though they can all fall into one of these areas, its that they are true works of art. When Sora adds her voice to the songs their beauty is magnified one hundred times over. Her voice has a purity that can’t be found often in music. It is the kind of voice that you long to hear in concert.

The inspiration for the songs come from many places. “The Birch’s Lament” was inspired by a children’s story Sora’s husband wrote called Liselle and the Birch Prince. “Children Of Lir” was inspired by the Celtic myth of the same name.

The track that stands out above all others on Heartwood is “Twilight.” This is a song that was written for her brother and his wife as a wedding gift, and what a beautiful gift it is. The words “And I can see in your eyes eternal sunrise. Full of hope, full of love for all of our days. As we stand hand in hand to face the winds of time. I can trust your love for me.” couldn’t be more perfect for two people about to take their vows.

Few albums can be described as perfect, but this is one that definitely deserves that distinction. Sora takes her listeners to a magical place when she sings, one that few if any will want to leave. Her voice is a joy to listen to. In fact, when the last song has finished, you’ll want to thank her for sharing her talents with the world. Yes, this album is that good. Thank you for Heartwood, Sora! It is a beautiful gift of music!

Luego de escuchar “Heartwood”, el nuevo y hermoso disco de la delicada artista canadiense Sora, compositora, tecladista y cantante, la sensación es de gran disfrute.

Es así que este trabajo “Heartwood” brilla por su intrínseca hermosura, en donde once canciones de gran belleza melódica, adoptan la forma de música celta, con toques medievales y clásicos dando lugar a la expresiva voz de Sora.

En un gran nivel de principio a fin, se destaca la belleza celta pura de “Drift”, los toques orientales en un conmovedor marco de profunda melancolía de “Eurydice”, el seductor acordeón de la alegre “Light”, los toques medievales de “The Birch´s Lament” o los sonidos majestuosos “alla Vangelis” de “Hurricane”, por citar algunos picos creativos de la obra.

Acompañan a Sora que se encarga de todas las composiciones, las voces y los teclados, un seleccionado de músicos que realzan la obra y entre los que podemos citar a Douglas Romanow en piano, teclados varios, vibráfonos, acordeón, programaciones y coros; Gary Craig en batería; Fergus Marsh en bajo y stick; Kevin Breit en guitarra eléctrica y mandolina; además de un cuarteto de cuerdas, arpas, percusión y demás instrumentos que enriquecen tímbricamente la obra.

Un delicado arte gráfico, con librillo interno con las letras e información adicional en un digipack doble, acompañan esta cuidada edición.

Un bello trabajo celta, ampliamente disfrutable de principio a fin.

Sora`s newest CD `Heartwood` is a magical and beautiful CD that takes you on a deep earthly journey. The music is mesmerizing and reminds me of being in an old enchanted forest, enjoying the elemental world around me. Sora`s voice is also angelic! There are many instrumentals used in this CD including piano, mandolin, cello, violin, drums, accordion, harp and viola. We at `The Faeries and Angels Magazine` highly recommend this enchanting and wonderful CD!

I`ve always made it perfectly clear that I am more than willing to be bribed. And it`s a constant source of annoyance that bribes rarely come my way. Now it won`t guarantee you a good review, but it will ease your way to the top of an ever growing pile of CDs. So the inclusion of some Canadian dark chocolate with this album did just that. So here`s hoping the music lives up to the sweetie.

The very polite handwritten postcard describes the music as a fusion of Celtic, World and neo-classical, and that`s a pretty fair summation of what`s in the grooves. If you want to get technical, I believe, although I`m usually wrong, that Sora aka Andrea Hunt is a mezzo soprano. So if that`s a vocal range that puts you off, then you may as well stop reading now. Although that would be a shame as there are some really beautiful songs on offer here.

Sora has put out two earlier releases; 2003`s `Winds Of Change`, which was a collection of traditional folk music, and a four track EP in 2007 called `Light` that saw her own material appearing for the first time. Something that has come to full fruition on this collection. The album sounds fabulous, with some inspired arrangements and sympathetic support which, at times, includes a string section. Fans of Clannad and Enya will find a lot to delight them with songs like `Children Of Lir`, based on the Erse legend, but it`s not all hippy dippy renaissance fayre stuff, with the more direct and personal songs coming out winners, with `Hurricane` a particular delight.

An inventive and interesting release, well worth checking out.

Sora is a Canadian female artist who is classical trained in violin and piano. “Heartwood” isn’t her first release, but probably the one that will possibly increase her popularity. Distributed by the French ethereal label Prikosnovénie this can be nothing more than an indication of Sora’s sound. This artist could have been signed on Prikosnovénie. The music remains a bit like Louisa John-Krol although I would say it’s a little bit darker and ethereal like as well. The new-age style of Louisa John-Krol has been replaced by a real fascination for Celtic music. “Heartwoord” this way sounds like an interesting mixture of different influences with a pure ethereal impact. Several acoustic instruments like piano, harp, percussion, violin, cello ao create a very authentic sound full of refinement and delicacy. Sora’s music can be the best described by terms like gentle, graceful, tender, fragile, evasive and enjoyable. “Heartwood” sounds like a relaxing therapy where you can leave all stress and problems behind. I think it’s not totally coincidental if there’s a strong link with elements of Mother Nature running through Sora’s music. “Heartwood” sounds like the offspring of a healthy cure. The magic of the instruments sounds like a fresh breeze after a warm summer day. The violin play in “Winter” feels wafting while the accordion in “Light” brings a part of folk. The last part of the ride features the beautiful song “The Birch’s Lament”. This is a brilliant piece of music showing all the talent of this artist while her vocal performance is also outstanding. “Madron Well” coming up is the last song from the album and another attention grabber. “Heartwood” is a magnificent trip leaded by an inspired artist who got the help from an impressive number of musicians. This is an album I can only recommend for the lovers of heavenly voices and music! Sora is a real huge discovery!

SORA meaning “singing bird soaring” is a very apt name for Andrea Hunt, this lady whose voice is truly breathtaking in its gentle power and purity. This is her third album, and a very fine album it is too. A sort of up tempo “world music” drum beat hides behind `Heartwood`, this beautiful introduction track which carries along the ethereal vocal perfectly in a gentle rolling refrain. The second track, `Drift`, has the same ambient feel with traditional drums very much to the fore again, but not so much as to ever interfere with the stunning vocals. It`s got a very chilled out feeling to it as an album so far and is perfect wind down music.

`Eurydice` is far more plaintive and haunting with a nice string intro and beautiful piano work It`s sensitively put together and a really lovely track, which leads us to `Winter` a disjointed and wonderful track again employing strings to great effect. `Hurricane` is Synth in the beginning and for me slightly out of whack for this album, which is probably why I like it so much; it`s the dark sheep of the family, being more sinister and nagging on the psyche than the rest of the tracks. Beautiful! `Light` is far more feel-good with a deep Celtic feeling to it rather reminiscent of early ENYA whilst the following track `Twilight` is more of the ambience from the first half of the album.

The eighth track `Children of Lir` alters things a little with something that really feels like the telling of one of sagas in flavour, but still with the great purity of voice which is this album`s trademark. `The juniper` is very orchestral in feel and you begin to appreciate exactly how well put together this album is, because it`s gloriously tight in its production. `The Birch`s Lament` has more great piano work which lulls off into a folky Celtic ballad, very nice but not of the calibre of `Hurricane` for me and neither is `Madron Well` the last track. Rather it`s more like a straightforward folk song, very well produced, very well performed but lacking that dark depth that promised so much mid album. There can be no complaining about this album, it`s done thoroughly well throughout and if you like Celtic music, harps, and pure angelic vocals then you`ll love it.

We’re on a Celtic kick at the moment – not least ‘cos of the free website giveaway that a musician / band or artist can win over at Kilted Chaos – but specifically because this week we’ve been listening to the music of Sora. 

...Immediate reference points are Enya & Loreena McKinnitt but Sora is all about the voice – and what a voice; it reminds me of the double edged broadsword that William Wallace wields in Braveheart – which could sound pretty scary but she has the control to harness its power & deliver some of the simplest and cleanest melodies I’ve heard in a long while. My mum would absolutely love this.

Sora’s music can be found on a number of web sites, but her MySpace page is probably the easiest – there are 10 tracks available for streaming from Heartwood and they’re all worth getting to know. Quick note on her production and the musicianship of her band – they’re great! You can buy Heartwood from Cdbaby

One of the things that I think Sora does well is the use of her video blogs – she has an infectious personality and is clearly passionate about what she does – you can see them on her website and her facebook page. ..

There’s a New Kid in Town

There is a new voice to be heard, a new level of composition to be examined and an exciting stage of passion to be explored inside the music of Canadian artist Sora. This is a rare album where all the elements come together to form a beguiling recording of (North American) Celtic music. Think of the offerings of Kate Price, Bill Leslie and Loreena McKennitt with their unique styles of almost, but not quite contemporary Celtic. Sora`s new album Heartwood embodies all of their methods, but with a singular strength that is literally, heretofore unheard of in the New World. Sora`s sweet voice, potency of lyric and attention to musical detail captivated me. It made me want to hear more after the very first song. I was never disappointed.

Appearing on Heartwood are a number of talented musicians including Fergus March on bass, Ray Dillard on various noise makers, Hugh Marsh on violin, Douglas Romanow on keyboards, and a wonderful string quartet made up of Lenny Solomon, Ronald Bal, , Wendy Solomon and Claudio Vena. There seems to be a lot of familiar names on the list. 

As carpenter, I know that the strongest wood of the tree is the heartwood, strong, dense and mature. As a writer, I know that the heartwood contains the life and history of the tree. The seasons, the weather and the stories of the earth are all contained deep in the wooden core. Sora`s first cut, Heartwood is the story. Sora says it best with the words… 
`I’ve heard the song of the seasons
Each note the lifetime of light
And I live within each gossamer moment
Where silences hum with life.`

Sora takes a page from ancient Greek history to tell the tragic tale of Eurydice, the love of Orpheus. Musician to the gods, Orpheus is grief stricken when his beloved dies and is taken to the Underworld. His playing of the lyre so impresses Hades that he returns his wife with the provision that Orpheus not look upon her countenance until they are back on the surface world. Unfortunately, Orpheus cannot help himself and once again, loses the love of his life. This is sad tune, but it immediately became my favorite on an album of favorites. 

Winter has a very appealing melody with the plucking of violin strings to express delicate snowfall. When I first heard this tune I thought that Sora was about fifteen years old. The sweetness of the vocal is extraordinary as is the height to which the song climbs. Most people feel sadness in winter, but there is also much beauty and color in the season of earthly sleep. All is revealed in the song. 

The Irish legend of the Children of Lir has been made famous by many artists including Patrick Cassidy, Loudest Whisper and of course, Sora. Four siblings turned into swans by a wicked stepmother and forever bound by chains of silver are forced to endure their fate for nine hundred years. The ending of the story.. well, you will have to listen to Sora`s rendition to find that out. 

If you believe in fairytales then The Birch`s Lament is the story for you. The sweet ballad is the tale of the lighthearted Liselle and the Birch Prince. In the twilight they dance, but there is jealousy and treachery about. It is the story of unrequited love as the Birch Prince loses his love when she sacrifices herself for his safety. Sora’s story telling is enchanting as is her voice and the delightful accompaniment of the string quartet just adds more life to the tale. 

Had I enough room I would have written about every tune. The music is absolutely resplendent and Sora`s voice soars with crystalline purity. The melodies are complex and harmonious. The music is perfectly balanced with some use of the keyboards with tiny sounds in the background and the string quartet. For me it is the best Celtic offering of the year and the whole album is completely enjoyable. This is going on the 2009 Top Ten. As I said, Sora writes and performs with a singular strength that is Heartwood.

Last year I had the honour and luck to receive Sora`s EP Light. I was captivated by the four songs on that EP. As I said at that time, it was a prelude for the upcoming album. And here it is. Heartwood. Eleven tracks strong, including the four from the Light EP. The packaging is somewhat the same; a cardboard slipcase with a CD, a booklet and a postcard. However, the booklet from Heartwood is way more extended than the one from Light. It features all lyrics, something that always scores points with me. But besides that, the whole package looks excellent. The atmosphere the frontcover paves is continued on the back, the inside and in the booklet. It`s a feeling of warmth, connectivity with nature and traditions. It`s almost melancholic. And it fits the music.

The opening track showcases immediately why I love this music so much. The instruments are being played gently, while the main focus of each song is Sora`s voice. Clean, clear and high. No time is wasted on extensive instrumental parts, even though there are so many being used; violin, viola, cello, harp, mandolin, guitar, bass, piano, percussion. Sora seems to get her inspiration from various places, as apparent from the tracks on this album. `Eurydice` obviously points to Greek mythology, but `Children Of Lir` is an Irish legend. `Madron Well` is a so called `clootie well` and a sacred Celtic place in Cornwall. All of this is adapted to the present day, while retaining a feeling from the days of yore.

`Drift` shows Sora`s ability to paint images in your head with just words. It`s about (two) continents drifting apart while they were once a whole; Pangaea. It can be interpreted as the Americas (north and south) being apart from Eurasia and Africa, but also as a metaphor for the love between a man and woman. They were once one and in love, but have taken different paths and live separate lives now. With `all these techtonic (sic) plates within our hearts / leaves us divided, we are now worlds apart.` These sentences just struck me. The fourth track, `Winter`, has build in an easy way, in terms of refrain/coupet. It`s worked out excellent. It`s a bittersweet track, and all the string instruments add to the atmosphere perfectly. The same feeling is continued in `Hurricane`, which is the longest track on here with its seven minutes. That`s completely filled with singing, mind you. This is a very slow moving track, and so very wonderful.

What else can I do but strongly recommend this album? If you really like female vocals and have a knack for contemporary folk music, then this is an absolute must. Last time I had trouble to put this in a category, but Sora has solved that herself. She simply calls it Contemporary Celtic, and that`s exactly what it is.

Two words describe Sora`s album, Heartwood. `Oh yes!` Two stars and a warm place await this soprano. A star in Heaven, a star on the walk of fame and a warm place in our hearts. This album leaves no room for for the darkside, though occasionally caressing mystery. Producer Doug Romanow exhibits great sensitivity for Sora`s compositions. Using restraint, when so many would not. Brilliant! It`s hard to define any one cut. The album as a whole is the one. Heartwood is a moment, an experience. Delightful in one`s own space or with an amour. Heartwood is mature, mystical, marvelous. A beautiful work by a beautiful lady, not just in her looks, but in her spirit. A wonderful voice in a score of good feelings…

At first glance, Sora’s CD seems to be like any old CD by a solo female singer; you expect a guitar, poppy melodies, songs about boys and heartbreak. This is definitely not the case. Sora, who gives no last name, is a Calgarian who wrote and composed all the tracks on “Heartwood”. Once you delve into the depths of the CD, you begin to see how significant that fact is, there are numerous layers of strings, back-up vocals, and drums on every track. She even does the her own back-up vocals. This layering provides a very thick backing to Sora’s vocals. This is mainly a two person effort, as Douglas Romanow also provides many of the accessory instruments to this CD, along with producing, recording and mixing the CD. I have to add that the album artwork is quite exquisite, all the photos are on their own are very visually pleasing.

There are few comparison’s to Sora in today’s musical expanse. The closest thing that I am able to think of is Sarah Brightman. Sora combines a unique mix of classical vocals with a more mainstream musicality that is completely unexpected. The first notes on the title track, shock you from your seat, giving you a much more interesting perspective on the entire CD. On the track “Eurydice”, Sora and Douglas use their mixing abilities and layer two sets of vocals throughout most of the song (or piece, I’m not sure if I should be calling it that) this layering allows Sora to create a dissonance between her own vocals. It’s quite eerie but once the suspension resolves, you are left relaxed and calmed.

Most of the CD has a bit of a foreign feeling to it. “Hurricane” gives a sense of a desert and an Arab setting, whilst “Drift” is very Celtic. Each track could provide a wondrous soundtrack to a different area of the world. At first, I was weary of Sora, and quick to judge her an over the top liner and for putting herself alongside the famous single names, such as Madonna, Beck and Cher, but “Heartwood” is a completely unique experience for the music lover. If you are looking for something calming but different from just about everything you’ve heard, pick up Sora’s “Heartwood”.

Heartwood captures beauty in storytelling 

“It feels at times as if music comes, not so much from within me, but that it passes through me in the ways of half-remembered dreams.” 

So writes Calgary singer-songwriter Andrea Hunt, better known as Sora, in the introductory notes to Heartwood, her second full-length solo album.

It’s an accurate summary of a collection of songs in which light and dark, dreams and memories, myths and legends intermingle to create an ethereally beautiful escape from the mundane.

Fans of Loreena McKennit and Enya will find Heartwood familiar territory, and Sora lists them among her primary influences. However, her background as a violinist with the Calgary Youth Orchestra and years of performing and competing as a classical pianist are evident in the sophistication of her compositions.

This is not just a woman with a piano. The songs on Heartwood are complex and deeply emotive, and the large cast of musicians who appear on the album provide more than mere background accompaniment; their instruments are other voices, interwoven with Sora’s own.

The result is an album that defies classification in a single genre. Songs such as ‘Madron Well,’ ‘Children of Lir’ and the title track ‘Heartwood’ have a strong Celtic flavour. However, folksy references to trembling aspen and the obliterating prairie winter betray her roots as an Alberta girl.

Sora draws inspiration from nature, and lyrically, several of the tracks, most notably ‘Winter’ and ‘The Juniper’ are poetic reveries that invoke shady forest clearings and windswept fields as metaphors for emotional experiences.

However, where Sora’s true strength as a songwriter lies is in her ability to give credible voice to tragic figures from legend. She describes Heartwood as “an examination of the places the heart inhabits,” which in the mythology explored on the album can mean a certain place and time or an object in nature, such as a tree or animal.

In ‘Eurydice,’ Sora assumes the character of Orpheus and recounts his harrowing journey to the realm of the dead to rescue his beloved wife and his fateful decision to look back at her as he leads her out of Hades, causing the guardians to snatch her back into the depths of the underworld forever. Sora, her crystalline soprano voice set against a backdrop of rippling piano and violin, is hauntingly believable as the heartbroken Orpheus cursing the gods and his own lack of strength. 

‘The Birch’s Lament’ is another triumph of musical storytelling, made all the more unique by the fact that it is based on a fairytale Sora’s husband wrote for their four children. It tells the tale of the love between Liselle, an orphan girl, and the prince of the birch trees, who comes to life each night to dance with her in the forest. When Liselle sacrifices herself to save her beloved trees, the sorrowing prince writes love letters to her — the reason birch trees have markings on their bark today.

These universal themes of love and loss are what ultimately make Heartwood so accessible, but it is Sora’s uncommonly beautiful voice that elevates the album to the status of a hidden gem.

Sora`s first album saw her cover many traditional folk and Celtic songs. This second one features eleven self-penned songs. An album rich in magic and atmosphere, Sora has tried to bring the outside in with this fresh new body of work. Not just an ablum of songs or music it is self-discovery experience for the listener. Four of the song --The Birch`s Lament, The Juniper (a charming piece that will captivate any listener), Light and Twilight--were previously featured on Sora`s 2008 LIGHT EP. The album opens with the haunting and evocative title song as Sora effortlessly blends folk with classical music to create a delightful combination. Artists like Enya and Clannad spring to mind whilst listening to her mesmerising voice. There`s a whole range of instrumentation including piano, mandolin, cello, violin, drums, accordian, harp and viola. An album that is magical, beautiful and delicate all rolled into one as it takes the listener on a journey; with a feeling that you are soaring high in the sky looking down on the green fields below. Drift is a charismatic song punctuated with Sora`s goddess like voice. Eurydice a more dramatic piece that speaks of love and death has a haunting sound. Winter sees the mood lighten; Sora`s voice is more upbeat and the music is vibrant and engaging. Listening to this album is like reading a book with each song forming a chapter. Hurricane has a strong folk feel to it. This is another dramatic piece that describes a person as a hurricane. Children of Lir is a lighter, breezier piece with a classical style. The chorus is uplifhting and quite refreshing to the ear. The music is gentle and has a slight Arabian sound. Sora`s voice is stunning and outstanding on this piece, which really brings the album to life. Madron Well, the final track, is a dreamy delicate classical sounding number. Sora`s voice is just perfect once again. It is huge shame when the album ends as this is such a wonderful masterpiece. Amazing!

Sora is a songstress out of Calgary, Alberta. In that land of cowfolk and rodeos, one would expect only country-influenced artists to emerge — not a classically-inspired, Celtic-flavoured folk singer. But that`s exactly what Sora comes across as; and, what she does, she does impeccably. From the first, Sora makes a good impression. Her media package for her 2009 independent release Heartwood includes a personalized postcard (that was addressed to me, by name, making me feel special); a colour-printed blurb card; and an amazingly professional and impressive cardboard, folded album with thick colour booklet and, of course, CD. The colour scheme of the package reflects Sora`s music: earthy and organic. Heartwood, the title track, starts everything off and sets the mood for the album. At first listen, well-known artists Loreena McKennitt and Enya come to mind; but Sora`s music is distinct and that becomes apparent throughout the next songs. A variety of instruments and musicians are utilized in the songs — accordion, glockenspiel, violin, electric guitar, cello — and the musicians blend their work perfectly with Sora`s dramatic soprano, who also plays keyboard on some tracks. Sora`s background in violin and piano is certainly noticeable as the songs are well-formed, causing Heartwood to be as much an orchestral accomplishment as vocal. The songs are fairly slow-tempoed, with percussion on some adding further dramatic touch to the melodies. Sora does not falter in her commitment to nature in her lyrics. In `The Birch`s Lament,` Sora sings as a tree watching the seasons pass with, what seems like, regret deep in her `bark` of letting her princess get away. Overall, the album is well done all around and will be well enjoyed by those looking for the next celtic-folk sensation.

OK to start this review I’ll just say if you love amazing voices and great music you should abandon reading this right now and instead simply go out and buy Heartwood by Sora. It took all of 35 seconds of the opening cut of this CD, which also happens to be the title cut, to totally fall in love with this lady’s voice. To term it anything less than stunning, or amazing, would be to do Sora a disservice. As for the music, well we reviewers love to categorize, but in this case it’s interesting to read what Sora herself says. “I have thought a lot about genre, about where I should place my music and after all these years, I still have no idea,” she said on her website. “My favorite description of my music is neoclassical, although I often call myself Contemporary Celtic or that nebulous singer/songwriter category. As a kid, I had strict classical teachers and mentors as well as folk, neither could seem to find merit in the other, but I see music as simply music. Genre, you always hear about genre. Classify yourself, categorize, but be interesting and unique while doing it. My music, to me, comes from the natural world. That is what inspires me, that is the imagery I place in my songs. Trees, and forests, light dappling through the canopy. The feeling of fiery leaves falling around as you walk on an autumn day, a cherry full to the brim with blushing blossoms, springing to life. The way ice forms in intricate patterns on my window, the sound of the wind in the trees. My lyrics come from there and that is what I want to share with my listener.” Sora’s view of her own music is interesting, in that it shows the poet inside her. The view is descriptive. It is near lyrical. That is what you get here, music that paints pictures. That comes from the heart. As for vocals style, two names came to mind Loreena McKennitt and Enya. So it was interesting to read, again on Sora’s website her view of her influences. “I love so many different musicians and types of music, from Rachmaninoff to Enya, and it all has helped to create my music,” she wrote. “But as to style, I guess Loreena McKennitt is my greatest influence. I have loved her music from the very first note on the very first song I heard, many many years ago. She is an inspiration to me. She is the only artist in which I can listen to every single one of her CD`s all the way through and love every song. Amazing! Other influences include Tori Amos, Jewel and Sarah McLachlan.” I won’t even try to select a best cut here. They are all just excellent, all written by Sora as well. This lady is an amazing talent. Check it out at http://www.soramusic.ca

Once in a while, you experience something very special when listening to a new album, one such album is the latest offering from Calgary-based Sora, titled ‘Heartwood’. The name Sora stems from the native American word meaning ‘singing bird soaring,’ which is very apt for a unique talent. The words magical, captivating and enchanting can all be used with confidence, as Sora takes the listener to a place of pureness and emotional fulfilment. With a feel of Operatic and Celtic fused together, each track is as strong as the last or the next offering, with each forming a personal and mystical mental picture. I would also advise anyone who purchases this album, to read the lyrics of each track, and enjoy them in a poetic environment, such is the depth of the writing, add the subtle instrument-playing and Sora’s delivery, and this is without doubt one of the most emotive and exceptional albums I have had the pleasure to listen to.

Sora:Making Music that Elves Make.

I could close my eyes and let her music turn my speakers into forest. Warm, organic and ethereal, that’s Sora’s music for you. Heartwood, her third release of 2009, explores the landscapes inside the heart, with varying textures and soundscapes of acoustic layered instruments and superb production. The nuances and richness of her voice is captured by Producer/Engineer Douglas Romanow. She teeters between the discipline of Classical music and the evocative atmosphere of Celtic music . Described as picturesque. This album is something that any Secret Garden and Enya listeners would lend their ears too. Apart from her beautiful soaring soprano, Sora is also a keen instrumentalist playing strings and keyboards in her recordings. She got this after touring as a teenager with the Calgary Youth Orchestra and the Calgary Fiddlers. You can listen to her tracks on her official MySpace site as well as a page in the Celtic Myth Podshow . You can also legally download Heartwood, the title track on this site. Sora credits major influences: Loreena McKennitt , Enya , Sarah Brightman, Kate Price , Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, Jewel, Sarah Slean, Indigo Girls, Aeone and Secret Garden

Her voice is mystical and beautiful, described as organic and soulful with a touch of whimsy. Sora takes Celtic music to the next level with her stylized melody lines and narrative vocals. her powerful and rich voice stirs old stories to life and makes each song an adventure.

A very interesting mix of genres come together for Celtic/folk singer Sora in her Heartwood collection. The music, which at time has classical qualities to it, is as enchanting as her lovely soprano voice.

This is the second full release by singer/songwriter Sora, a Calgary mother of four young children who skillfully manages to balance a career in music with the arduous task of raising a family. The album Heartwood was fashioned in response to a very successful EP she released last year that showcased her remarkable compositional skills combined with her opulent voice. Sora teamed up with producer Douglas Romanow to create a balanced recording of Celtic-inspired folk tunes that are ethereal and mysterious, ushering the listener on a journey of self-discovery. When I listened to this recording, the extraordinary Loreena McKennitt immediately came to mind, as you can’t help but draw parallels between her music and Sora’s, particularly the musical style and the way they both immerse themselves in the music that they perform. Trained as a violinist and pianist, Sora draws on these skills and experiences to help her create a enchanting listening soundscape that is highlighted by her passionate and heartfelt singing. Woven throughout the eleven selections on this album are captivating arrangements, unique instrumentation, and a poignant string quartet. Add to the mix some top-notch musicians such as the amazing violinist Hugh Marsh, and you have a winning formula! I particularly enjoyed the presence of the string quartet, the haunting violin, and the accompanying percussion. Of particular note are the title track, the string quartet-fashioned piece “Winter,” and the haunting tracks “Hurricane” and “Children of Lir.” As soon as you begin listening to this album, its beauty and expressiveness will capture your heart and spirit. (Independent, www.soramusic.ca)

Moody, ethereal and atmospheric, Calgary-based singer Sora has captured a lovely, gentle Celtic sensibility with her latest release Heartwood. Clearly influenced by Irish songstress Enya and Canadian artist Loreena McKennitt and others in the similar musical vein, Sora manages to craft her own unique sound. Her soprano soars effortlessly over the acoustic-based tunes. Opening cut Heartwood is a gem with the flowing harp and rich melodic tapestries. 

Since releasing her debut Winds of Change (2003), a collection of folk songs from the British Isles, her talents have been getting increasing support from industry and fans. In the year and a half that followed she began writing her own material which led to the recording of a demo in late 2006. Several of the tracks on Heartwood provoke that heart swell you get in moments of true triumph. “My music, to me, comes from the natural world…sometimes by mythology, but it is always my goal to understand the heart of the myth rather than to simply retell a story,” she says. “I am far more interested in discovering why it is still meaningful today. The songs are not about me, but I cannot deny that I find myself in them.” 

The magic continues on tunes like Eurydice, a song that could almost instantly calm every frazzled nerve. The mellow tones of Winter follow in a similar sonic path as does the comparatively brooding sense of Hurricane. Sora is clearly influenced by her surroundings, and the sights and sounds of the natural world shine through in her carefully-produced sensual music. In an increasingly hurried age, it’s a wonderful gift to have artists like Sora who are devoted to creating such soothing, well-crafted music.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Congratulations, Sora - your ‘Heartwood’ album is the only one sent to me in recent memory (possibly ever) that has not only caught my ear, but failed to elicit not one wretch or laugh from me. Since this is not a traditional review, I have saved a few lines of space for the testimonial: 

“Sora’s sonorous and genuine vocals, coupled with some evocative instrumentation, make ‘Heartwood’ an enjoyable listen for a mid-summer evening.”

Sora – Heartwood: Sora’s third release is a remarkable accomplishment because she manages to construct sweet, soft, yet daring arrangements based on Celtic, classical and folk music without sounding over dramatic. Most of this is due to her narrative - folk tales based on the majesty of nature and finding oneself during harsh times - which listeners can easily connect with in some way or another.

Musically, Heartwood is an easy listening affair; but producer/engineer Douglas Romanow has done a wonderful job capturing every nuance of Sora’s airy vocals, the radiant strings sections, and the soft strokes and plucks of guitar, mandolin, glockenspiel and piano. All these organic instruments lead to a very picturesque vibe that sedates you to the point where you can dream the lyrics.

While this is a good start for Sora, I couldn’t help but imagine what she might sound like if she ventured into darker territory with more percussive instruments and some electronic build-ups. Still, fans of Lisa Gerrard or even Josh Groban should give Heartwood a good listen. (Rawlco Radio)

SORA -HEARTWOOD (Rawlco Radio, 2009) 

Sora`s CD stood out among the piles of CDs that I wade through. In an age of music business survival, she brilliantly included a handwritten note addressed directly to me along with a small dark chocolate. That personal touch made me take a few minutes and listen and I was impressed with what I heard. 

Fans of Enya and Charlotte Church will find something special in the music of the Alberta songstress who goes by the name Sora. Elements of classical, folk and Celtic combine for a truly memorable sound. 

Sora`s crystalline voice is chilling and direct and her songs are backed by top-notch musicians including Kevin Breit (guitar, mandolin), Gary Craig (drums) and the legendary Hugh Marsh (violin). 

Highlights include the Drift, the guitars in Twilight, the percolating strings in Winter, Light and the stirring title track.

The first few seconds of Sora’s 2009 release Heartwood sounds reminiscent to that of an Enya album. But patience is virtue and almost instantly after Sora’s vocals breeze in, you are captivated. The title track “Heartwood,” the first off the album, draws you in with its hauntingly beautiful melody while managing to conjure an image similar to something painted by the Group of Seven. To kick off her brilliant lyrical tirade she begins, “I tread the forests of your eyes. Wild paths within. Dappled sunlight moves us in circle.”

Sora, a native name for “singing bird soaring,” describes perfectly what Calgary’s Celtic Princess is doing. Born Andrea Hunt, the spiritual and narrative singer/songwriter has shifted her focus from folk to Celtic since dropping her debut album, Winds of Change, in 2003.

Calling Heartwood “the core of truths we carry,” Sora explores beginnings and endings in this latest release. She examines the seasons of life, summoning vivid imagery and symbolism. From a melancholic winter on track four crying, “Snow is falling/Darkness falling/Winter’s calling tonight,” to a climatic storm in track 5’s “Hurricane,” each song seemingly reflects an emotional enmity from a past lover.

It’s hard to imagine a mom of four with a husband she affectionately refers to as her heartwood would be consumed with any hatred at all, but like a torrential down pour, the sun always comes out and Sora explores this part of life (springtime) in “Twilight.” She sings, “And I can see in your eyes eternal sunrise/Full of hope, full of love for all our days/As we stand hand in hand to face the winds of time. I can trust in your love for me.” She easily gives John McDermott a run for his money.

Perhaps growing up in a household that shunned Top 40 music, and being partnered with her desire to create art that embodied her Canadian surroundings, were the successful combination of ingredients that created Heartwood. It’s an obscure and alluring Celtic masterpiece.

Sora Heartwood (Independent) 

Uplifting! Baroque!
Making an album like this
Takes huge canticles

`It`s simply glorious music.` That`s how one reviewer sums up Sora`s talent for the liner notes of her new CD Heartwood and it`s tough to argue with that assessment. 4 CDs out of 5 Her haunting vocals, complemented splendidly by an array of classical instruments, lift one to a whole other place. A peaceful place. With Juno Award-nominated producer Douglas Romanow at the helm, the recording quality is superb.

This five star rated CD by Atlantic Seabreeze is a gem and listeners to this album will enjoy Sora`s singing and her writings as well. Rave reviews are pouring in by the music industry and critics as well. Many talented musicians help Sora with the music namely: Douglas Romanow, Ray Dillard, Fergus and Hugh Marsh, Kevin Breit, George Koller, Gary Craig, Sharlene Wallace, Lenny and Wendy Solomon, Ronald Bal and Claudia Vena. This flawless album tells the haunting stories of love, anguish, pain and hope and the listeners can discover the emotions and depth of the songs. She shares her touching personal stories and delivers to the listener her emotions. Throughout the album she writes about her influences by environment such as leaves, petals, rocks crystals and these are the heartgifts she shares with the listener. The album jacket contains all words of the 11 songs.

There’s something about Sora’s achingly beautiful voice that immediately lifts you out of yourself and delivers your senses to a different world. This is a world where she adds touching personal stories to sweeping melodies to build towers and dungeons of emotion in your mind. There’s so much depth and breadth of music and narrative in her new album ‘Heartwood’ that you could travel for miles in its embrace.

‘Heartwood’ is a collection of faultless songs that reflect intense, haunting stories of love, anguish, pain and hope – written and delivered so everyone can share in the emotion and identify with the message. Of course, you could listen while you do something else and just enjoy a balm of soothing sound washing around your ears. Alternatively (and recommended) you sit down with an hour to spare, lights out, candle flickering and bathe in the pure sanctity and intensity of voice and lyrics. Personally, I’d go for the latter or you will miss so much.

The eponymous ‘Heartwood’ opens the album, and transcends song to become an anthem to a soul coming home. From the first note ‘Hurricane’ is full of foreboding, its lyrics expressing the search for truth and need for solace. ‘Light’ by contrast is a gentle cry for freedom, with a touch or pure beauty. Other gems exist in ‘The Juniper’ and ‘Madron Well’ as they ask you to join the mystery of the natural world. 

Here are songs that circle and soar. Here are emotions that rise and fall. Here is an intuitive feel for story and composition. Here are lyrics that lift and reflect. Here are ideas expressed by a voice that touches your soul. ‘Heartwood’ is clearly Sora’s labour of love – listen and you will love it too.

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