lundi 1 août 2016

With Grace & Gratitude

Just before Olivia’s next spiritual and deeply touching project „Liv On“ will be released I’d like to take a look back on the crititically acclaimed and by far one of her best albums „Grace and Gratitudewhich remarks its 10th anniversary this month.

Back in 2006 I was on holiday but I was lucky to pre-order Grace & Gratitude with Walgreens in the US.
After my return from Spain early october 2006 the postman had delivered my CD already which was a nice homecoming surprise !
From the first tune „Shekhinah“ I was kind of paralyzed by this new musical face Olivia showed.

We’ve learned that this record was inspired by her writing experience with Amy Sky on „Serenity“ for the „Stronger than before“ album, just one year before.

Olivia and Amy aimed for recording a whole healing CD for the first time showing a full flow with musical interludes between the songs. Music can easily make me cry, but in a good way.
Apart from (good) movies I appreciate music that touches my soul and G&G did that right away with a full strike.
Olivia went on a US G&G tour in 2006 to promote the CD and she even released „Instrument of peace“ as a christmas gift card promo.

Although the album was praised by Billboard Magazine it somehow failed the charts in 2006. This goal should be made four years later with the re-release „Grace and Gratitude renewed“, which contained two new tracks including new recordings/mixings of some of the 2006 originals.

What I especially like about the thought behind G&G is the fact that music connects and unites belief systems. The Newton-John/Sky collaboration managed to show a great combination of eastern and western popular and traditional sounds thrilling with a brilliant vocal blend of the two ladies. Their life experience made this record special and unique and I’ve personally found a new favorite pianist through G&G : Mr. Stephan Moccio.
He played the piano on some of the tracks and has added an even further depth to the musical outcome of the project.
Moccio himself became an Academy-Award Nomineé a few years wonder at all if you ask me and well deserved !
Looking on the several CD releases of G&G we find the original slip-case Walgreens edition, which was presented at those stores with a few nutrition supplements and an Infomercial video featuring Olivia.

In Canada and Australasia the album was released as a jewel case CD early in 2007.
In Europe G&G was first released with Olivia’s appearance at the 2010 Pink Ribbon Gala in Vienna with a Bonus Disc featuring remixes of „Magic“ and „Physical“ by well-known D-Jane Tracey Young.

Coincidentally the re-release called „Grace and Gratitude renewed“ featured those two bonus tracks as well for the japanese release which Olivia accompanied with a short concert tour of Japan.

A special limited slim-case edition of the 2006 G&G CD was signed by Olivia and given away during her and her husbands „Zamu-Tour“ in the US and Europe in 2009/2010.
I personally prefer the recordings in the 2006 edition, although the duets made of „To be wanted“ and „I will lift up my eyes“ had indeed a remarkable flair to them in 2010.

Between 2006 and 2010 a lot had happened in Olivia’s life and career. She got married to John Easterling, walked the Great Wall of China, released a highly acclaimed Christmas Wish CD (which featured another seasonal version of „Instrument of peace“), toured intensively in the US and Australiasia and she tirelessly did charity work for the ONJCWRC in Melbourne Australia.

It all made sense that G&G got a Renovation in 2010 to confirm all the things that got healed for Olivia.
It was unusual for her previous work to re-release an album so soon after its first release adding new tunes, but it was well accepted and much appreciated by her fans.

Looking back on her 2013 UK Tour „Pearls on a chain“ still gives me goose bumps and „To be wanted“ (solo version) will always be one of my favorites, because it reflects a vulnerable human view on being alone, forgotten and desperately seeking for a lost love.

Who ever has experienced a state of loneliness can relate to this song! „Love is letting go of fear“ was the only kind of uptempo song on the album and there was a rumored Radio Mix flowing around that never saw a vivid CD release (unfortunately).
The power of now“ is another highlight on G&G which will be no strange sentence to all those buddhists out there ;-)

A funny story always comes to my mind when I think of the song „Grace and Gratitude“. In 2010, a day after Olivia received her Radio Rainbow Charity Award in Karlsruhe she came to Cologne with hubby John to promote Zamu. After the showcase and while all the people had taken their pictures with the couple the song was played in the background and repeated, let’s say ten times. It got a little annoying to be honest and even Olivia told the sound guy at one point „Could you please play another song of the CD !“. That was really funny, I must admit ! Of course it didn’t cause any kind of „I can’t listen to this song anymore“ with me.
I still love it and feel passionate about it.

It keeps my eyes wet, because it’s such an honorable song to her parents. And knowing she sang this live to a german audience in 2010 makes it even more passionate.
I am so looking forward to „Liv On“ which will include a new version of „Grace and Gratitude“.

And I’ll be in Spain again on holiday when it comes out. So I deeply believe that this new album will be as touching as G&G and will show us another spiritual site of Lady Olivia Newton-John, who still is able to surprise, touch and entertain us in her late 60s like nobody else can do !

Kay Bohlen.

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