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Renée Fleming - Dark Hope

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Dark Hope

Renée Fleming

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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.
© Heather Phares /TiVo

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Dark Hope

Renée Fleming

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1
Endlessly
00:03:59

David Kahne, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Arranger, Programming, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Matthew Bellamy, ComposerLyricist - Rusty Anderson, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Dominic Howard, ComposerLyricist - Roy Hendrickson, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Shawn Pelton, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Renee Fleming, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Nick Valensi, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Christopher Wolstenholme, ComposerLyricist - Rachelle Fleming, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 RF Recordings LLC under exclusive licence to Mercury Records Limited

2
No One's Gonna Love You
00:03:41

David Kahne, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Arranger, Programming, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Rusty Anderson, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Creighton Barrett, ComposerLyricist - Roy Hendrickson, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Shawn Pelton, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Renee Fleming, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - James Hampton, ComposerLyricist - Benjamin Bridwell, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2010 RF Recordings LLC, under exclusive licence to Mercury Records Limited

3
Oxygen
00:04:15

David Kahne, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Arranger, Programming, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Rusty Anderson, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Will Lee, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roy Hendrickson, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Shawn Pelton, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Renee Fleming, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert Smith, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Wendy Sutter, Cello, AssociatedPerformer - Mick Rossi, String Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Dov Scheindlin, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Willy Mason, ComposerLyricist - Jesse Mills, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Cyrus Beroukhin, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - William Hakim, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Alexis Pia Gerlach, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 RF Recordings LLC under exclusive licence to Mercury Records Limited

4
Today
00:03:22

Marty Balin, Composer - Paul Kantner, Composer - David Kahne, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Arranger, Programming, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Roy Hendrickson, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Shawn Pelton, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Renee Fleming, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Nick Valensi, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Rachelle Fleming, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 RF Recordings LLC under exclusive licence to Mercury Records Limited

5
Intervention
00:04:19

David Kahne, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Arranger, Programming, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Michael Brauer, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Rusty Anderson, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Will Lee, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roy Hendrickson, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Shawn Pelton, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Renee Fleming, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Nick Valensi, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Jeremy Gara, ComposerLyricist - Regine Chassagne, ComposerLyricist - Tim Kingsbury, ComposerLyricist - Win Butler, ComposerLyricist - Richard Reed Parry, ComposerLyricist - Sarah Neufeld, ComposerLyricist - Will Butler, ComposerLyricist - Arcade Fire, ComposerLyricist - Amelia Ross, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Sage Ross, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 RF Recordings LLC, under exclusive licence to Mercury Records Limited

6
With Twilight As My Guide
00:05:33

David Kahne, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Arranger, Programming, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Rusty Anderson, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roy Hendrickson, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Shawn Pelton, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Renee Fleming, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Cedric Bixler, ComposerLyricist - Rachelle Fleming, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Amelia Ross, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Sage Ross, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 RF Recordings LLC under exclusive licence to Mercury Records Limited

7
Mad World
00:03:53

David Kahne, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Arranger, Programming, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Rusty Anderson, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - ROLAND ORZABAL, ComposerLyricist - Roy Hendrickson, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Shawn Pelton, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Renee Fleming, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 RF Recordings LLC under exclusive licence to Mercury Records Limited

8
In Your Eyes
00:05:01

David Kahne, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Arranger, Programming, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Michael Brauer, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Rusty Anderson, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Peter Gabriel, ComposerLyricist - Roy Hendrickson, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Shawn Pelton, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Renee Fleming, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Rachelle Fleming, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Amelia Ross, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Sage Ross, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 RF Recordings LLC, under exclusive licence to Mercury Records Limited

9
Stepping Stone
00:03:26

David Kahne, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Arranger, Programming, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Booker, ComposerLyricist - Roy Hendrickson, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Shawn Pelton, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Duffy, ComposerLyricist - Renee Fleming, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Amelia Ross, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Sage Ross, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 RF Recordings LLC under exclusive licence to Mercury Records Limited

10
Soul Meets Body
00:03:11

David Kahne, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Arranger, Programming, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Benjamin Gibbard, Composer - Rusty Anderson, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Will Lee, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roy Hendrickson, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Shawn Pelton, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Renee Fleming, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 RF Recordings LLC, under exclusive licence to Mercury Records Limited

11
Hallelujah
00:07:39

David Kahne, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Arranger, Programming, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Michael Brauer, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Rusty Anderson, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roy Hendrickson, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Shawn Pelton, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Leonard Cohen, ComposerLyricist - Renee Fleming, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert Smith, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nick Valensi, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Wendy Sutter, Cello, AssociatedPerformer - Mick Rossi, String Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Dov Scheindlin, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Jesse Mills, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Cyrus Beroukhin, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - William Hakim, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Alexis Pia Gerlach, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 RF Recordings LLC under exclusive licence to Mercury Records Limited

Album Description

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.
© Heather Phares /TiVo

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