Renée Fleming – Dark Hope - AudioSoundMusic
Renée Fleming – Dark Hope - AudioSoundMusic
Renée Fleming – Dark Hope - AudioSoundMusic
Renée Fleming – Dark Hope - AudioSoundMusic
Renée Fleming – Dark Hope - AudioSoundMusic
Renée Fleming – Dark Hope - AudioSoundMusic

Renée Fleming – Dark Hope

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Renée Fleming - vocals

Amelia Ross, Sage Ross, Rachelle Fleming – background vocals

Rusty Anderson, Nick Valensi – guitar

David Kahne – bass, guitar, keyboards

Will Lee – bass

Shawn Pelton – drums

Jesse Mills, Cyrus Beroukhin – violin

Dov Scheindlin, William Hakim – viola

Wendy Sutter – cello

Alexis Pia Gerlach – cello

Mike Rossi – conductor

Arranged by David Kahne

Written by Chris Wolstenholme (A1), Dominic Howard (A1), Matthew Bellamy (A1), Ben Bridwell (A2), Creighton Barrett (A2), James Hampton (A2), Willy Mason (A3), Marty Balin (A4), Paul Kantner (A4), Jeremy Gara (A5), Richard Reed Parry (A5), Régine Chassagne (A5), Timothy Kingsbury (A5), William Butler (A5), Win Butler (A5), Cedric Bixler-Zavala (A6), Roland Orzabal (B1), Peter Gabriel (B2), Duffy (B3), Steve Booker (B3), Ben Gibbard (B4), Leonard Cohen (B5)


1 LP, gatefold jacket, 8 page booklet printed in Korea

Original analog Master tape : YES

Heavy Press : 180g

Record color : black

Speed : 33 RPM

Size : 12'’



Record Press : Pallas

Label : Mercury

Original Label : Mercury

Engineered by Roy Hendrickson and David Kahne

Produced by David Kahne

Lacquer cutting by SST Bruggemann GmbH in Germany

Originally released in June 2010 (as a CD)

Reissued in September 2016 (first time as an LP)



Side A:

  1. Endlessly
  2. No One's Gonna Love You
  3. Oxygen
  4. Today
  5. Intervention
  6. With Twilight As My Guide

Side B:

  1. Mad World
  2. In Your Eyes
  3. Stepping Stone
  4. Soul Meets Body
  5. Hallelujah



                                “There’s a part of me you’ll never know,” Renée Fleming sings as she begins her pop album “Dark Hope,” in a voice her opera and lieder fans might not recognize. It’s two octaves below her renowned lyric soprano, with a lushly melancholy tone that’s closer to Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan than to Kathleen Battle or Sarah Brightman.

                                She revealed that voice in 2005 on “Haunted Heart,” her more-or-less jazz album. That was a collection of sparsely accompanied ballads, carefully sung and ultimately lugubrious (even Stevie Wonder’s “Ma Cherie Amour”). But with that plunge into her lower register, Ms. Fleming began to solve the longtime problems of opera singers’ pop crossovers.

                                From the pop side the path is barricaded by, among other things, pop’s preferences for (the illusion of) a natural performer rather than an elite conservatory-trained virtuoso, and for believability over sheer technique. When pop singers do show off, it’s with African-American flourishes: gospel and jazz, not coloratura.

                                Then there are the minefields of taste: how songs are chosen, how rhythm is used, how arrangements work and how emotions are signaled. For most opera crossovers the results are slushy and overwrought. There’s also the strange, stubborn fact that even American opera singers often pronounce English as if it were their second language. Singing pop the way they sing opera just sounds outlandish — and not, usually, in a way that’s fun.

                                In her liner notes for “Dark Hope” Ms. Fleming freely admits she was unfamiliar with what she (imprecisely) calls indie rock. She let rock professionals — Metallica’s managers, Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch — suggest a selection of songs spanning recent college-radio rock (Arcade Fire, Band of Horses, Death Cab for Cutie) and baby-boomer memories (Jefferson Airplane, Peter Gabriel). The arrangements came from the producer David Kahne, whose clients have included Kelly Clarkson, Sublime and the Bangles.

                                They all made shrewd choices that add up to an album about obsessive love rendered meticulously — not so different a task from playing Desdemona at the Met, but with a new vocabulary. To suit Ms. Fleming’s somber low range, the songs are generally brooding, though not lachrymose. They often have lyrics that are fraught yet downright enigmatic. Wisely, the tunes don’t call for Ms. Fleming to swing or shout. They’re on the hymnlike side, with foursquare rhythms and melodies she can linger over.

                                The arrangements recall the originals without copying them, adding reverberant space. Some, like Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” end up too plush and fussy, while Muse’s “Endlessly” teeters toward cheesy Euro disco. But Mr. Kahne came up with a few inventive variations. “Oxygen” replaces Willy Mason’s plucked acoustic-guitar notes with booping keyboards, while “Mad World” trades the brittle electro pop of Tears for Fears’ version for something more organic, with synthetic jolts.

                                In the end Ms. Fleming treated her rock hymns as an idiom that required certain authentic performance practices, and she learned them. She got friendly with the microphone, turning the songs inward instead of projecting operatic melodrama. The richness of her voice can make some of the original versions’ vocals — like Ben Bridwell in Band of Horses’ “No One’s Gonna Love You,” or Duffy in “Stepping Stone” — sound twerpy by comparison.

                                “Dark Hope” is a good start not for operatic fusion — it’s opera free — but for a side career. Ms. Fleming’s next step is figuring out how to sound, now and then, just a little less serious about it all.” New York Times Review by Jon Pareles

                                “It’s fitting that Renée Fleming, “the people’s diva,” would make an album of pop songs that feels more like a labor of love than a crossover attempt. Dark Hope is filled with songs and arrangements that wouldn’t appear on a typical attempt to bring a classical vocalist into the mainstream -- witness her dark, intricate take on the Mars Volta’s “With Twilight as My Guide.” It should almost go without saying that Fleming's voice is just as remarkable here as it is in her usual milieu, but the album proves time and again that she is game for just about anything. Fleming learned how to sing in the more intimate, confessional style that Dark Hope's singer/songwriter and alternative rock fare requires just for this project; combined with her interpretive gifts, she does a masterful job of remaining true to the spirit of the original songs while offering her own twists on them. Her voice dances over the wordy, syllable-heavy lyrics of Willy Mason's “Oxygen,” brings a mature moodiness to “Stepping Stone” that was lacking in Duffy's spitfire version, and remains connected to the intimacy in the Arcade Fire’s “Intervention” even as the song swells around her. Indeed, Dark Hope's swelling arrangements are as much a weakness as they are a strength: at times, it feels like the album’s producers didn’t trust that her gorgeous voice singing these songs would be enough of a draw. Quite a few tracks have busy instrumentation that detracts from Fleming's singing; others have arrangements that try too hard to be tastefully contemporary, and dilute the songs’ impact. Fleming is divinely torchy on Muse's “Endlessly,” but her trip-hop-tinged surroundings are no match for her rich vocals. Her interpretation of Band of Horses' “No One’s Gonna Love You” is let down by an arrangement that sounds like generic alt-pop -- though, on the other hand, it’s a relief that it doesn’t sound like A String Tribute to Band of Horses. Despite these problems, both of these songs are among Dark Hope's standout tracks, along with the subtly sultry electro-folk turn on Jefferson Airplane’s “Today” and the urgent yet airy reading of Death Cab for Cutie's “Soul Meets Body.” It’s just frustrating that even songs as revered as Leonard Cohen's “Hallelujah” -- which is virtually a standard at this point -- are burdened with anything that takes away from a voice as remarkable as Fleming's singing a melody that powerful. She deserves credit for undertaking such a bold enterprise, but unfortunately Dark Hope's execution lets down the concept.” AllMusic Review by Heather Phares


                                Ratings :

                                AllMusic : 3.5 / 5 ; Discogs : 3.8 / 5

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