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Transcending traditional electonica, and encompassing something completely different.

CD Review: Sleepthief — The Dawnseeker

Contained herein is beautifully arranged electonica which on one side of the spectrum draws from celtic and new age genres and on the other side has jazz and even hip-hop influenced tracks. The album was conceived as an instrumental, featuring Elswick's impressive keyboard talent, but morphed into something quite different. There are eleven different female vocalists featured on the thirteen tracks (Jody Quine appears on three tracks). Every one is unique but each finds a way to masterfully blend with Sleepthief's eerily sensual and expressive music. The Dawnseeker is the debut album for Sleepthief, the name that Justin Elswick chooses to record under.

"Entre Ciel et Mer," the final track on the CD, is hauntingly beautiful. It features San.Drine who arouses a sense of mournful longing as she somberly whispers the foreign phrase in a hush that blends with Elswick's keyboard. The track opens with a digital representation of wind blowing, and it seems the vocals are just that – delivered on the breeze.

The Chauffer, featuring Kirsty Hawkshaw, is a cover of the Duran Duran classic. It features the immediately recognizable drum and base line. It is a pretty-true-to-the-original cover, but Kirsty does bring her soft and subtle voice to it giving it a slightly unique perspective.

One track that caught me completely off guard was an interesting cover of "The Metro," a song made famous by Berlin in the 80s. The sound is so different it might have slipped by unrecognized except on first listen I found myself mindlessly singing along to the lyrics as I busied myself at my desk. It stopped me in my tracks and I restarted it to confirm it was the same song. It still has the electronic overtones and feel to it but is slowed way down. While the tone of Berlin's version gave the feeling of riding on a train and had spiteful overtones, Sleepthief's is soft and sorrowful. I have to say it is even better than the original. Jerri Eckert provides vocals on this track.

As I mentioned, Jody Quine lends her voice to three tracks on The Dawnseeker: "Eurydice," "Tenuous," and Kiss to Savor." All three are sensuous and Quine's silky voice is the perfect one to deliver the lyrics. From sensual to a bluesy jazz sounding track, Roberta Carter Harrison if featured on "Fire from Heaven." This is the one track that sways from the overall sound of the album. It's not a jarring departure or so huge I would say it doesn't belong on the CD but it is enough for you to take notice. It is fun and playful, and once again masterfully delivered by the chosen vocalist.

One might think music in general would be a huge departure for Justin Elswick. He is an attorney in his day job, but his passion for music began at the tender age of four. He's also spent the last several years as a music critic. It is through his writing that he got to know most of the vocalists who appear on The Dawnseekers.

The CD, which will be released on June 27, is quite an interesting collection. Transcending what I would call typical electronica, it is a soothing and out of the ordinary collection that comes highly recommended.

Streaming MP3s can be heard at Sleepthief's Myspace profile. News, release information as well as videos can be seen at the artist's website.

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