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Artist/Band: Susan Bailey
"Mater Dei" is a gentle album, as befits the Blessed Virgin Mary, the subject of the music. A combination of Susan's own compositions and familiar Catholic hymns, the entire CD pays tribute to the Mother of God.
Susan's rendition of "Hail, Holy Queen" has a light beat added to the old hymn, and stands out as one of five tracks on the album performed entirely by Susan-vocal leads and harmonies, and all instrumentation.
Susan's music can be somewhat deceiving as one listens to "Come Into His Presence" -- There is a temptation to think of her as limited to lilting, pleasant melodies. This misconception is shattered as one progresses through the tracks, witnessing her haunting vibrato on some, and enthusiastic exhortation on others.
In four of Susan's own songs, "Come Into His Presence," "Immaculate Mantle," "Take Joy in Me," and "Wait With Me," she sings in the first person, from the perspective of Our Lady, a technique that can touch the heart as one envisions Mary telling us, "Don't despair, oh my little child. Your mother still loves you!"
Franz Schubert based his "Ave Maria" upon a popular tune of his day, and in retrospect, he disliked the finished product. Today, the pop songs fade but "Ave Maria" has withstood the test of time. Not everyone can sing it, though many make the attempt. Susan is successful, adding multitracked vocal harmonies and countermelodies, along with a subtle 3/4 beat.
In an age of widespread indifference, it's refreshing to witness a bold, unashamed tribute to Our Blessed Mother.
--Paul Sadet, Relevant Radio(r) 1330 WLOL