Good and bad

Beautiful Things (Faithful Productions) 3,5

“Now loosen up and be happy!” says Lee Aaron’s sidekick on her new CD — an upbeat musical medley perfectly suited for a relaxing evening at a classy restaurant or at home curled up on an overstuffed armchair.

Rock music’s “Metal Queen” expertly blends rock with jazz and blues in a versatile round of songs — some haunting, some quirky, but all richly textured. Aaron’s voice marries the velvety softness of Sarah McLachlan’s with the raw clarity of k.d. lang’s;

The lyrics of “Lo & Behold” and “Joan of Arc” have religious allusions; while the lead track “Museum” is humorous, lively and fresh — you’ll feel like you’re strolling downtown on a bright summer day along sidewalks lined with coral begonias and english ivy.

“The Why Song” begins simply, slowly adding instruments to build to a stunning multiplicity of sound while maintaining a brisk, even tempo. “Silent Serenade” is definitely dinner music highlighted by delicate piano notes.

© Mary Anne Pucovsky http://www.gazette.uwo.ca March 18, 2004


Beautiful Things (Faithful Productions) * * *

A graceful, exuberant new album from one of Canada’s sweetest voices.

We all know the tasteless videos. I saw Metal Queen just last week but with Beautiful Things Aaron’s transformation from reluctant rock slut banshee wailer to a singer of surprising depth and feeling seems complete.

Her latest adventure in a jazz/pop circumstance is wonderfully affecting, recalling early Sade amongst others. Her silky, expressive voice caresses you like a lover’s touch.

In the last track she asks Do I move you? Yes, Lee, you most certainly do.

CHOICE CUTS: Museum, The Why Song, Handcuffed To A Fence In Mississippi, Do I Move You

© Red Deer Express 2004


Aaron explores several styles

Beautiful Things ***

There’s something about rock acts proving their mettle as crooners and "real" singers. Robert Plant did it successfully in the ‘80s and the late Robert Palmer did it in the ‘90s with his Ridin’ High CD of old standards and soundalikes. Now famed ‘80s rock queen Lee Aaron has also switched horses.

Beautiful Things is Aaron’s second post-rock-pinup-babe CD since fleeing Toronto for the Left Coast. The last one, Slick Chick, was all jazz and blues Beautiful Things is not, but her bio says it started out as one. The change shows.

A blend of pop, jazz, opera, gospel and, yes, even a little rock Beautiful Things sounds more like an exploration than a finished album.

But that’s not to say there isn’t good music to be found here. From the slow pop-piano ballad Joan of Arc to the cool, jazz-lounge sound of Private Billie Holiday to the plaintive, soulful title track, Beautiful Things proves there’s more to Lee Aaron than being an ‘80s big-hair sex-kitten Metal Queen.

©Saleem Khan/Metro Toronto April 27, 2004



I miss Lee Aaron as metal queen. Her whole badass slut thing is a part of our heritage that deserves one of those historical TV spots, and I just can't get used to this image makeover thing even if it is four years old. That said, I was hoping for some serious jazz here, since Aaron certainly possesses the vocal abilities to tackle the genre. But the tunes on Beautiful Things lack the complexity of arrangement, soul and grit to be anything beyond adult contemporary pop. I'm convinced this woman could still do great things, since her voice is lovely and full of personality. Unfortunately, the moments when her talent shines through make it even more obvious that this meticulous effort simply isn't it.

Lee Aaron belts her heart out at Healey's Wednesday (April 21).


NOW | APR 15 - 21, 2004 | VOL. 23 NO. 33


Lee Aaron
Beautiful Things (Distribution Fusion III)

As transformations go, Lee Aaron's makeover from '80s Canuck-rock radio staple to lounge chanteuse might not be as bizarre as, say, billionaire Donald Trump's ascendancy to the king of prime-time television. But Aaron deserves credit, both for making the move and doing it without fuss or embarrassing incident. And, though she may have reignited her career with jazz standards, Beautiful Things shows she's more than just another pretty ex-metalhead trying to prove her versatility by cooing "I've Got You Under My Skin" at local martini bars. Working with singer-songwriter Joel Kroeker, Aaron has come up with some first-rate material on this, her 11th album. The buoyant "Joan of Arc" and sensual "Boy Glory" are both terrific pop songs, while "Heart Shaped Whole" is a country/lounge hybrid that segues nicely into the disc's most unexpected cover, eccentric Americana artist Jim White's woeful "Handcuffed to a Fence in Mississippi". The just-right treatment of the latter, with its wonky guitar, had me checking the credits for the name of the disc's producer, who happens to be Aaron. The woman who once called an album Bodyrock also does coy cocktail lounge (Donovan's "Museum") and bluesy gospel (James Taylor's "Lo and Behold"). Her take on Nina Simone's "Do I Move You" is respectful and sensual, and features some dynamite ivory-tickling by Michael Kaeshammer. Such canny choices in collaborators and material, as well as her understated and warm vocals and tasteful production, add up to a varied and very cool pop record. Beautiful Things proves that at this point in her career, we underestimate Aaron at our own risk.

©Shawn conner
Publish Date: 29-Apr-2004


Beautiful Things Jazz/Pop

Lee Aaron. She will always be known as "The Metal Queen" in some people hearts.

But,for now and for the last decade, she's decovered a musical territory that's greatly satisfied her obviously more eclectic musical palate, and lets her use her voice in a way she hasn't used it before. Who could blame her when she feels and performs it with all the ease and pinache of any popular Jazz singer out these days. Not everything works on this Cd, but, there are some moments where her charm and playfulness are downright contagious. Her covers of Donovan's "Museum", as well as "Handcuffed..."and "Do I Move You" are standouts, and co-written tracks like the honky-tonk inspired "Heart Shaped Whole" and "Silent Serenade" offer a nice break from some of the (have to be honest here) rather bland adult-contemporary-ish Jazz /Pop fare that also inhabits this album. But then, this is not to be taken so seriously as to berate her travels entirely. Also, having ace guitarists like Stephen Nikleva and Jonathan Inc. backing you means you're not all bad.

Plus the backing vocals that cradle some of the tracks are just delightful. It's a worthy purchase, dear listener.

Mark Bignell
Radio Bandcouver
CFRO 102.7FM
Fridays 10pm

© www.columbiajournal.ca Nine, Number Three May 2004



It only takes three tracks, a groovy cover of Donovan's Museum, the slickly sweet Joan Of Arc (co-written with Joel Kroeker) and pop-a-licious 'The Why Song' chocked full of clever questions (like why people care more about TV stars than Mozart and why don't people follow good advice) to see that Lee Aaron is still one cool chick. From Metal Queen to Private Billie Holiday. Lee, you've come a long way. While her peers were content to get fat and play "Classic Rock" festivals, Lee Aaron was aging more gracefully into a jazz singer. Remembering the 80's Metal Queen Lee Aaron (yes, I own 'Metal Queen' on cassette), I was more than a little skeptical of this jazz version. I believe my reaction was, "too old to rock, so she thinks she can be a jazz singer." I must confess, my cynicism was unfounded. I don't know if I'd call it jazz, I think jazz-infused adult contemporary pop would be more accurate, but one thing for certain, Beautiful Things is a very pleasant album. She still likes to rock, though, "Handcuffed to a Fence in Mississippi" is a slow blues cooker and 'Lo & Behold' turns the electric guitar up, but not too much. Beautiful Things winds it's way through pop, jazz, torch, lounge, and blues like a well laid out buffet. Most importantly, it shows that she is still learning and growing as an artist.

© http://beerforbreakfast.org/HBarchives/HB_JJ04.html



How can a Metal Queen age gracefully? For former ’80s hard-rocker pin-up girl Lee Aaron, the answer is crossing over to become a jazz and blues singer. The 2000 release of Slick Chick put Aaron’s days of big hair, spandex and opening for Bon Jovi in the past so she could pursue a more mature songwriting direction. Her new release, Beautiful Things, is lighthearted and upbeat and tones down the jazz influence from her previous album, focusing more on pop and rock. Most of the tracks explore Aaron’s talent for soft, light and sensitive vocals, but lack the passion and excitement she once captured in her music. Private Billie Holiday is one of the only standout tracks, and it successfully depicts the melancholy of being both lost and found in love. Slow and contemplative, it gives a glimpse of the jazz singer Aaron could become. However, reinvention doesn’t happen overnight and it seems Aaron still has some kinks to work out.

©Jen Skerritt / http://www.uptownmag.com


Beautiful Things

The overexposed portrait of Aaron on the cover of Beautiful Things was very appropriate because contained inside, is a CD with songs written and sung by someone overexposed to the 1990's sound of many-a-Canadian-chanteuse.

From tracks reminiscent of early Amanda Marshall tunes, to a stab at the Celine Dion style on track five (none of these songs are worth naming) to a trip through the country with Shania Twain on track eight, Aaron shows she is neither original nor a uniquely reformed Canadian rocker.

I had heard in advance to throwing Beautiful Things into my CD player that this latest release by the defunct '80s rocker was jazzed infused. If Bette Midler is considered jazz (which she's not) then Aaron deserves laud for successfully mimicking the divine miss M, if she was going for a more Diana Krall effect, she did not succeed at all. However this doesn't disappoint me, there's only so much soulless jazz one country can take.

"Museum," the first track, was promising. It was upbeat, jazzy fare. Tracks seven and 10 were unoffending background music. The rest of the album, however, elicited my roommates begging to know what I was listening to and requesting that I stop.

Aaron's Beautiful Things will not even see a Juno nomination panel with this genre-shift effort. Even if it made it to the table what genre could she be possibly be entered into, it wasn't pop, wasn't jazz, wasn't rock, and wasn't worth my time. (Fusion Three)

© Alexis McDonald / Brock Press April 06, 2004