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I ran across the trip-hop band Mandalay in a somewhat strange way. Two years ago some representatives from Best Buy came to UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) one day and set up some sort of fair in the Commons, which is basically our student union. They had a movie trivia game and a little game show where they showed music video clips and ask the contestants to identify the song and the artist. I competed in the game show and even though I didn’t win they gave me a very nice album sampler called the Area One Sampler for competing. It had 17 songs on it, each from a different artist, most of who I had never heard of before. It was pretty impressive for a major retail chain.

The tenth track on the album sampler was especially impressive; it was “Deep Love” by Mandalay. I played that song over and over again when I got that sampler. Vocalist/lyricst Nicola Hitchcock’s simple, yet very powerful lyrics combined with composer Saul Freeman’s beautifully arranged instrumentation results in what is probably one of the most emotionally honest love songs ever recorded. What I mean by “most emotionally honest” is that the song speaks with both intense passion and doubt in the same breath. It covers the broad range of emotions felt when one is in love with another and the confusion that one experiences. Even when Nicola Hitchcock sings about the doubts (“How lost in this / Should I be?”) she sings it with as much passion as she sings lines such as, “Share / And say you’ll bring / To me deep love.” So while the lead vocalist sings her doubts, you still believe that she is deeply in love with her partner but that she’s just experiencing inner confusion. And Saul Freeman’s excellent composing skills finish the puzzle. During the verses, the music is very soft and gentle, which expresses the warmer, more comforting side of love. And then the music explodes with a burst of emotion during the choruses. It’s this flurry of emotions that are expressed both lyrically and compositionally in a tremendous musical effort that make “Deep Love” a complete experience.

I was going to talk about “Believe”, another one of Mandalay’s, but I really got into talking about “Deep Love”. I don’t want to make it sound like that “Deep Love” stands so high above Mandalay’s other songs, it’s just that I have a particular preference for it… and it was the one I heard first. As for “Believe”, I’ll just say that it’s also an emotionall powerful song. Give it a listen and give into the awesomeness..

Oh, and if you’re curious as to how well Best Buy’s album sampler worked on me, one or two months after I got it, I bought Mandalay’s album Solace… from Best Buy. But it was a good deal; it cost $11 and it came with a remix album at no extra charge. That, and it’s one of my favorite albums.

Purchase Solace by Mandalay

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