Maybe there “rings no bell” when you hear her name but when you have read my Glass Hammer reviews you could have known the name of this Siren. I discovered Michelle when I bought the first Glass Hammer album “Journey of the Dunadan”. However this album is on the market for quite a while she deserves some attention on progVisions. After her debut album “Song of the Siren” this “Marked for madness” is her second effort and she tried to make it a progressive one.
Michelle Young – Vocals; Bobby Kimball – Additional vocals; Clive Nolan – Keyboards & Backing Vocals; Doane Perry – Drums; Peter Gee – Bass ; Stan Whitaker – Guitar; Karl Groom, Pete Banks & Jon Colston – Additional guitar.
Beautiful Michelle has managed to get some big names out of the progscene on this album. In this way the multi-instrumentalist can concentrate for hundred percent on her vocals. The album is engineered by Clive Nolan and Carl Groom and the later also mixed the album in their Thin Ice studios. The input of Clive Nolan who plays the keyboards gives the album a typical English Neo prog atmosphere. But the main instrument of the album is of course the voice of Michelle Young.
The album starts with the title track “Marked for madness” (6:32). This is about a dark and realistic view of life. A slow song where Michelle is accompanied by the piano of Clive in the first part. Later on there are some creepy atmospheres of Clive which could have developed maybe into some parts on “The hound of the Baskervilles” album of Clive Nolan and Oliver Wakeman. We immediately hear that the voice of Michelle can reach a broad spectrum in sound. And she has a beautiful voice too, but that we already knew. This dark opener has a nice guitar solo in the end. Next is a song called “A lively toast” (3:27) which she wrote at Halloween. The piano part is very catchy. Here voice has some resemblances with that of Kate Bush. (Sorry Michelle for mentioning this again in a review.) It is a short up-tempo track with some strange lyrics (she must have a lively imagination).
“Spider’s thread” (6:47) opens a little bit mysterious with a classical theme on the keyboards. Michelle now sings first a very delicate way. Later on the name of Kate Bush comes again in my mind. The slow and delicate parts are very beautiful, and have great vocal melodies. All in a classical context. Then we go further with “Hope: Realization” (3:55) the first of the mostly instrumental “Hope” intermezzo’s which all have tasteful keyboard arrangements. The next short track is called “First light” (1:04). In this track Bobby Kimball has a few words to sing. It is connected to one of the last tracks of the album “Walk in the light”. “Dancing on the head of a pin” (6:31) is very creepy with a lot of keyboard samples. The story is based on a story she invented for a girl in her childhood. “Demons” (4:42) is again a track based on the keys of Nolan. It stays all delicate and melodic while Michelle tells one of her stories about life. Next intermezzo is “Hope: The darkest hour” (2:21) it is all computer based music. “Melissa’s demise” (5:16) is a story about a newspaper article with the headline: “The girl nobody liked”. This piece is rockier than the other tracks and includes a nice melodic guitar solo. “The right of passage” (2:25) is little masterpiece which shows Nolan’s class to make orchestrations (violin and cello) with his keyboards. In “Hope: Encouragement” (3:00) we can hear the angels sing. Next comes “Mystery man summoned” (4:15) which has a happier mood than the other tracks. The basis sounds still classical but it has elements of circus music and sounds you would expect in a musical. “Pull the wool” (1:55) is another short and mysterious piece with some orchestral sounds in the end. “Walk in the light” (8:09) is the longest track of the album. It is about “picking up the pieces and to go further with your life”. This piece has slow and more up-tempo parts. The album closes with the track “Toujours ensemble” (1:32) is a kind of happy ending of this album. Michelle sings some French lyrics here.
Well I found this a difficult album to review. The things I like are the keyboards of Clive, the beautiful voice of Michelle Young and the classical atmosphere of the album. In Michelle’s compositions you can hear that she must be good in inventing and telling her own stories. She has a rich imagination. The thing I don’t like is when she reminds me of Kate Bush. I admit that I own the “Hounds of love” album and was attracted to the theatrical way of singing, but nowadays I can’t enjoy her way of singing anymore. But this is just a personal taste. On the other hand I don’t think that this album is really progressive (that old discussion of what is progressive). It is only progressive because Michelle writes only music she likes. So the production of Nolan and Young is very good because it is an album with an own atmosphere. “Marked for madness” is a good album with nice vocals and great orchestrations by Clive Nolan. To end in style; Michelle I would love to be that “Mystery Man”. Let’s treasure one of the few female songwriters in our scene.