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03 octobre 2006

Postcards from East Oceanside: Greatest Hits


Postcards from East Oceanside: Greatest Hits

Paula Cole’s ‘Postcards from East Oceanside: Greatest Hits’ offers a delightful taste of her music career which has spanned the past decade.

Following in the footsteps of Kate Bush and Tori Amos, the starkly autobiographical elements of some Cole songs are tempered by her more "pop" orientated songs like ‘I Don’t Want to Wait’.

After graduating from the esteemed Berklee College of Music in 1990, the Massachusetts born singer/songwriter landed the job of backing vocalist on Peter Gabriel's Secret World tour of '93 and '94.

Coming off the road she released her debut album for Imago Records, ‘Harbinger’, which is represented by four tracks on the 'Greatest Hits' collection: most notably the more autobiographical tracks ‘I Am So Ordinary’ and ‘Bethlehem’ which deal with adolescent alienation and ‘Happy Home’ which examines the façade of family felicity.

Imago Records went out of business and Cole signed with Warner Brothers for her second album, ‘This Fire’ (1996), which won her a Grammy Award for the best new artist. The hits ‘Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?’ and the (hugely overplayed) theme song‘Dawson’s Creek’ ‘I Don’t Want to Wait’ propelled Cole into mainstream stardom.

Unsurprisingly the album they came from is the most represented on the collection. The six tracks featured here also include ‘Greatest Hits’‘Me’, which is in many ways similar to ‘I Am So Ordinary’; the more upbeat ‘Feelin’ Love’; the love song ‘Carmen’; and the hauntingly beautiful duet with Peter Gabriel ‘Hush, Hush, Hush’, which was written for a friend who died of Aids.

Cole’s third album, ‘Amen’ (1999) took on a slightly more esoteric note, with songs like the title track and ‘God is Watching’ questioning the destruction of earth and the violence of mankind. Both are featured here as well as the more pop orientated ‘I Believe in Love’.

‘Greatest Hits’ also includes Cole’s cover of Johnny Mercer’s ‘Autumn Leaves’ from the soundtrack of the movie ‘Midnight Garden of Good and Evil’. This jazzy track adds further depth to the collection and highlights Cole’s versatility as a singer.

So do the two previously unreleased tracks — ‘Tomorrow I Will Be Yours’ and the title track ‘Postcards from East Oceanside’. The former, which harks back to the autobiographical/narrative style of ‘Harbinger’, tells the story of lost childhood love and the intimacy of this ‘personal’ account is Cole at her best.

She lets you in to share her misery and inadequacies and takes you with her as she soars to great heights. Her strong voice has an amazing range and each song is carefully crafted and polished.
‘Postcards from East Oceanside’ isn't quite as accomplished. With Cole exploring the innocence of girlhood, the high-pitched whispery vocal does little to mask the fact that it's probably the least noteworthy track on the album.

So if you already own her first three albums, ‘Postcards from East Oceanside: Greatest Hits’ is probably not worth getting, but if not, it offers a comprehensive taste of everything that is great about Paula Cole.

Rebekah Kendal
Tue, 03 Oct 2006

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