UK musician Doris BRENDEL is a veteran in the UK rock scene. She has been around for almost 30 years, starting out as a singer with The Violet Hour back in the early 1990’s and catering for a solo career when that band rather abruptly folded. A few years back she teamed up with Lee Dunham, and “Eclectica” is the third and most recent production of this creative partnership.

While this is a creative partnership, much focus will undeniably be set towards the vocals of Doris Brendel on this album. Her by now developed and smoky vocals does make her a vocalist that stand out due to that aspect alone, a female singer that just doesn’t sound like most others out there, at least in the mainstream rock scene. As usual she delivers, and existing fans of her career will get what they expect in that department. Dunham is a skilled musician, which becomes obvious just by the sheer variety at hand on this album. When an album features ballads, hard rock, funk and reggae the musicians involved needs to know a bit more than their ABC, to put it that way.

The music itself is what will make or break this album of course, especially as this is a production that heralds with it’s very title that the contents are of an eclectic nature. And for my sake this is a bit hit or miss. Nothing that strikes me as sub par as such, but a few of the songs just doesn’t make an impact beyond being interesting or pleasant material. The concluding reggae track among them, and while their foray into funk is both uplifting and humorous, the sheer amount of animal sounds used throughout this cut is for me a feature that has a detrimental impact, shifting focus away from the music itself.

Amidst ballad-oriented material and compositions that include details of a more folk and world music nature, it is the songs honing in on more of a classic rock and hard rock attitude that strikes me as the most striking of the material at hand. Dunham appears to be right at home in these territories, and Doris gets to use a bit more power to add emphasis and character in those songs. Some of the more careful songs are just about as intriguing, but all in all I enjoy the harder edged songs on this album just a wee bit more.

While “Eclectica” is an undeniably varied affair, I rather suspect that existing fans will feel that this is another quality addition to Brendel’s discography. For those not yet familiar with her music, I’d suggest that those with a general taste for classic rock and hard rock with the occasional detour into ballad-oriented landscapes should be an appropriate audience for this album. Especially if a darker toned, smoky voiced female vocalist is regarded as a positive element in that context.

My rating: 72/100


Track list:
The One; Love App; I Rather Wear Black; Crying Shame; Retribution; Animal; Losing It; Death and Taxes; Balloon; One World

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