For transparency I will begin my review of Tony Schofield’s “Beautiful Souvenirs” ft Sophia Armstrong by declaring two points: 1) I am terribly choosy about female vocalists, it’s only from a tonality point but that point alone is a major factor for my ears. However, I fell in love with Sophia Armstrong’s vocals. 2) This review is a first of a kind for BRnB’s to include or focus on a female singer, we are happy to say welcome to Miss Sophia and Tony.
I fell in immediate like of Tony Schofield’s lyrics and music compositions on this album, I was completely surprised to learn that Tony who is a chemist in the United Kingdom does not consider himself a musician;. In his words “I am not a musician.I am a chemist and I play the guitar. After many years of playing in bands I have accumulated a load of guitars and a load of music ideas. I resolved to get this stuff recorded before I was 60.” (excerpt from the CD jacket information):
After much encouragement and grouping together the right people the final mix was “put in the can” 7 days after Tony’s 61st birthday. A result that I’d like to add to the thought that it was well worth the wait.
This compilation of songs written mainly by Mr Schofield is a tapestry of stunning vocals, guitars and piano. Featuring the voice of an angel with an edge vocalist Sophia Armstrong separates the women from the girls – weaving the listener through genres ranging from a chart climbing pop tune on track #1 “Lavender”: to the sultry swamp blues of track #6 “Too Much Of a Good Thing” with its fabulous slide guitar intro.
An eclectic mix of songs in the selections and phrasing of each on the album. A wonderfully surprising thing I found (aside from Mr Schofield not claiming to be a musician) was there is something for everyone’s taste in favorites on this 13 track CD. That rarely happens.
With Mr Schofield’s compositions of raw piano solos that allow the listener to believe for just those few moments that what she is hearing is meant for her ears alone creates goosebumps that present with each listen. Like the lyrics the music compositions and instruments give a naturally intense vibe; created from the song’s mix of flares reminiscent of Latin dance, jazz, pop, country, and even some folk. I hear Joan Baez & Judy Collins influences in the lyrics of the title track; “Beautiful Souvenirs”. and that Miss Armstrong channels both beautifully. (whether knowingly or not.)
Beautiful Souvenirs is aptly titled. I mentioned earlier the CD’s phrasing of the 13 tracks, it definitely is a 13 track journey of emotions and memories evoked throughout.
A bottle of wine, candlelight, and “Beautiful Souvenirs” make for a beautiful evening’s ambiance.