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Gloriana – 2009 (Warner)

Reviewed by Jessica Phillips

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CDs by Gloriana

It is interesting that Gloriana shares its name with a 1953 English opera, as they sound much the same --powerful, scripted and slightly overdramatic. The group's tight-knit harmonies are the crux of this 13-track album; they gorgeously weave and contrast strong 2-, 3- and 4-parts into almost every verse. Occasionally the group over sings, but then, they are fighting to be heard over layers of unneeded production.

Given the ages of the foursome (teens to mid-20s), it's only natural that the entire album centers around one thing: relationships. In fact, the album seems to chronicle one doomed romance. Things start off care-free (Wild at Heart,), and leap from attraction to something more (How Far Do You Want To Go). Then the arguing begins (If You're Leaving). Ultimately comes the breakup (Even If I Wanted To), the obligatory making up (Change Your Mind) and the final letting go (Time To Let Me Go).

Change Your Mind is beautifully and intimately done, while the nicely stripped down Time To Let Me Go has a shuffle and guitar work similar to Keith Urban's old band The Ranch. Opener How Far Do You Want To Go has an infectious groove that Christian group Hillsong or rocker Rick Springfield would commend. The shimmering Wild At Heart captures the group's energy better than most songs and was a great choice as a first single.

Lead Me On and You Said each trespass dangerously close into Miley Cyrus/Britney Spears territory.

The members of Gloriana seem to have found a comfortable niche with their rock-influenced harmonies, but they at their best when they actually keep it country.