13 Shadows is a musical project ran by singer/songwriter, pianist, guitarist and producer Denise Donahue. The New Yorker wrote, arranged and co-produced all the songs on her self-titled debut album released in 2012. Apparently, it is available in 2 versions - with 9 or 10 songs on the tracklist (with "Tangle of Thorns" as a bonus on the longer version) but it depends if you look up Bandcamp or iTunes/Amazon stores. For this review, let’s focus on "Descend".
In the beginning, an excellent mix of a sentimental piano and an organic (wind) instrument will lead you into the song’s atmosphere. The dreamy mood brings an unspoilt mysticism so if you're on the lookout for a background tune for practical purposes, this one may go along well with fantasy themes to illustrate movies, animations, interactive websites as well as audio-books. The song also has an epic feel thanks to its slow tempo and spots of rising tension. Therefore, listening to "Descend" is as pleasurable as watching a calm ocean tide lick the sand off a shore.
The composition is quite flexible, mostly adjusted to the vocals which play a role as major as the piano in the song. Denise’s angelic, crystal clear and peaceful voice immediately attracts the listener’s attention and is definitely her secret weapon. If you like female vocalists who don't growl like Shamaya of Otep but rather bring a more traditional female element into music then you'll definitely love Denise's performance in this track.
The track was labelled as 'gothic' due to its sublime, almost Victorian style. However, some of the effects used for the vocal parts are usually utilized in contemporary pop music, so defining the genre of the song may not be that easy. Regardless of that, it becomes memorable after the very first listening. The repeating phrases "On and on and on I've left these feelings unresolved, On and on and on I kept believing, But I can't repair this broken vow" easily hook into the listener's mind and give "Descend" a big chance at becoming a popular hit.
The song production is of very high quality. It emphasizes the most valuable aspects of the mood, vocals, electronic backgrounds (such as the cold, whistling sound of wind sampled at the end of the track) and piano arrangements.
Undoubtedly, 13 Shadows belong to those DIY bands that should get both the interest and the support of major labels. Denise has done a great job on her own with her music, so increased exposure could improve the album sales while her songs are still fresh.
(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, July 25th, 2013. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)
This review on Fabryka Magazine: http://industrialrock.net/php-files_en/articles.php?article_id=493
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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine