Well-known in the audiophile circle by her two vinyl releases under the Sheffield Labs label, namely Growing Up in Hollywood Town and West of Oz, Amanda McBroom ascended to fame in the early 80’s from her own classic, The Rose, which was adopted and sung by Bette Midler as the theme song for the same-titled movie. More details on her illustrious career can be found at the Amanda McBroom website.
The subject of this review, the JVC XRCD2 2003 release of Dreaming, is re-mastered from McBroom’s original 1986 album produced by her own label, Gecko Records. The performance provides more than a glimpse into an earlier period of McBroom’s career when she was more unworldly, as evident in the unashamed directness of her fancies in Dreaming and Ship In A Bottle, and the stern condemnation of war in For Nothing.
Contrasting many pretentious singers of the day, McBroom’s occasional girlishness bodes extremely well not only in her yearning for fantasies; her whispery tales of love and regrets also come away as extremely convincing in Easy, When Hearts Collide and Quiet Man. Here, amidst the accompaniment of professional musicians, she sometimes conveys mature messages that catches me off guard. Then even more amazingly, out of nowhere comes the singular The Portrait, McBroom’s very private, confessing composition dedicated to her mother, which gives us a rare glimpse into the artist’s more private thoughts.
This XRCD2 has exuberant sparkle throughout the spectrum, rendering McBroom’s intonations reverberating and sumptuous, and the abundance of details distinguishes itself from other CDs. The dimensionality reproduced is a dramatic improvement over the sonics of mass-market CDs in the acute delineation of performers‘ localization, and the lively transients impresses upon me in their lifelike subtleties.
Finally, I should mention that McBroom shows us a world of precious idealistic stubbornness in her own interpretation of The Rose, a version to which none can contest on its earnestness and originality. Add to it the sound of XRCD2, and you have a quintessential demonstration track, from a disc the pristine sound of which will reside in your mind for quite some time.
This JVC production will assert its significance among your collection of today’s best-sounding CDs.
47 Laboratory 4704 PiTracer CD transport with two Power Humpties
Audio Note DAC 5 Special (upgraded)
47 Laboratory 4706 Gaincard S integrated amplifier
Rethm “2nd”, Lowther DX-4-based loudspeaker
Via Audio Note Sogon digital cable, Sogon interconnects, AN-Vx
interconnects, AN-SPx speaker cable, Harmonix Reimyo Studio Master
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