May is the month of the nightingale, of songs we love, and of romance. It was on May 4, 2007 that guitarist/composer (and lyricist) Royce Campbell discovered all three in singer Paulien, whom he accompanied at a gig in Charlottesville, Virginia. For more than ten years Campbell had been sitting on a songbook of original, romantic songs; that evening he discovered the voice that would bring it to life.
After being introduced to Campbell’s tunes, Paulien, too, felt an immediate affinity for them. The two spent the next two and half months planning and rehearsing. Recording of the project began on July 23, 2007.
The result is a concept album that could be summarized with Lord Tennyson’s famous quotation: “T’is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” The eleven-tune program begins with the yearning “Someone For Me,” followed by a wistful “I Feel Like We Have Met Before.” The love story that unfolds in these tunes culminates in what may well become a new Valentine’s Day classic, “Be My Valentine.” The last three songs of the album reflect what happens when even the most beautiful of romances turns sad. The final, reflective “Many Loves Ago” expresses Lord Tennyson’s thoughts beautifully and perfectly.
Paulien’s distinctive voice has been well known in Europe since the mid nineties from several recordings she had done mostly in French. One of her albums included a contemporary re-make of the classic song “Dominique”, which became a top ten hit all over Europe and Asia. It led the Japanese charts for six weeks in a row in 1996. On this album, though, Paulien’s vocal style surpasses anything she has done in the past. Free from vocal affectations, straight ahead, and with a deep, clear and honest tone it will stick with you for a long time. In the current jungle of sophomoric YouTube-hyped singers, Paulien truly stands out, because she not only sings these songs, she feels them deeply.
With this album Campbell and Paulien, with the help of Grammy-winning engineer Bob Dawson of Bias Studio in Springfield, Virginia, have produced ultimate musical bliss: Romantic originals that easily fit into the existing American Songbook but also have an international flair that audiences world-wide will easily connect with. The stylish and tasteful contributions of Campbell on guitar, Tony Nalker on piano, Tom Baldwin on bass, and Tony Martucci on drums—all of them seasoned musicians from the Washington, D.C. area—give this album an undeniable appeal.
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