Since 1987’s Who’s That Girl? tour, Donna De Lory has been watching Madonna’s back both on the stage and in the studio as one of the Material Girl’s two backup dancers and singers. And while many would consider it a career’s crowning achievement to work so closely with one of the world’s biggest pop stars, for De Lory it’s just a (high profile) way to pay the rent while working on her own music.
Her 1993 solo debut scored a club hit with “Just a Dream” (a song originally co-penned by her boss for Like a Prayer), but it’s De Lory’s lushly ethereal and atmospheric follow-up that’s finally making a name for the Los Angeles native. Effortlessly blending world, new age, and pop music, Bliss is closer in spirit and sound to Kate Bush than the mad, Maddy-influenced boogie-woogie one might expect. So while her album may be too understated and subtle for listeners looking to get into the groove, it’s a rewarding experience for those willing to invest some serious soul-searching time in De Lory’s textured, Eastern-influenced tracks.
Opening with the hypnotically dreamy ballad “On and On” (co-written, like much of the album, with cellist Cameron Stone), Bliss rarely picks up the pace for its near-hour duration. Even when she does up the tempo, however, nothing is even remotely as pop-oriented as her first album’s “Just a Dream” — a fact that will only disappoint listeners who’d rather De Lory follow Madonna’s footsteps than her own instincts.
Donna De Lory performs Wednesday, Aug. 22 at the Ann Arbor Borders Books and Music.
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