With a voice that infers some of the folk rock artists of the 90s, Susan Barreto‘s alto voice has a unique character that is immediately identifiable as her own in her recent release Kaleidoscope. As easily as the pictures and shapes in a kaleidoscope change, the songs on this album switch from folk, to EDM rock, to soft rock, to adult contemporary, to worship based songs. The one thread that binds this treasure together is the theme of a heart for God by solidified by Susan’s rich vocals.
What is really exciting, is Susan’s voice is solid and strong, whether singing an upbeat EDM praise song or a slow rocker, the character of her voice easily finds a spot in each track and remains consistent. The song writing is really good, filled with catchy riffs, memorable lines, and tons of ear candy. You really get a playlist of individual tracks that fit together in an exciting way.
Kaleidoscope starts with “Holly’s Song,” a short folk like ditty that could have been developed into a full song, but like one of the kiddie rides at the fair, is a short walk for a fun ride for the rest of the album. Plunging into an EDM style track with “Give Him Praise,” Susan rides a roller coaster of rush, exhorting the listener to give God praise. “You Alone” is a wonderful praise and worship tune, with acoustic guitar, pounding drums and an orchestral section, but stays with a slow rock feel. Also on Kaleidoscope, “Creator Cornerstone” is a fantastic folk country rock song. There’s a great feel and deep conviction that comes from Susan’s vocals that really pull the listener into this track. There’s a live version of the song “Fill Me Fresh,” that shows a tender side to Susan’s vocals. With a voice that expresses strength and depth, it’s refreshing to hear emotional vulnerability without losing the character that makes her voice unique. Kaleidoscope ends on the encouraging song, “You Will Survive.”
While this album is full of really good songs, “Out the Wreckage,” “You Alone,” “Creator Cornerstone,” etc, there is a lot of processing on Susan’s vocals. At times, it sounds like Susan is singing inside a closet, her huge voice trying to bust out of it. Not that it ultimately detracts from the songs, or the arrangements, but I want to hear that voice in a more open setting that equals her strength and conviction. That’s just an opinion, it still sounds good, don’t let it deter you from listening.
Definitely give this album a few spins, there are some great tunes, and not your ordinary praise and worship fare.
Susan Barreto resides in Connecticut.