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The Critics Corner: Albums
Sinner or a Saint
Tamar Kaprelian | Sinner or a Saint
Arizona singer-songwriter shines and exceeds expectations with debut album

Name: "Sinner or a Saint"
Label: Interscope
Release Date: August 24, 2010
My rating: 4.9 out of 5

Review written by: Stephanie Mora

It wasn't long ago that Tamar Kaprelian had posted a YouTube video of herself covering the hit song Apologize for a contest that One Republic was holding. Little did she know that this one cover would earn her, her well-deserved big break. Since being signed with Interscope, life has been a whirlwind for Kaprelian but she's made a name for herself with her breakout single, New Day that has been featured on popular television shows like The Hills and Secret Life Of An American Teenager. It was even used in promo commercials for ABC's TV show Huge. From her breakout single to touring to writing and recording her debut album Sinner Or A Saint (out today-August 24th, 2010), Kaprelian has established herself as a breakout singer/songwriter for this year. Writing songs is in Kaprelian's DNA. On top of that she has an extraordinary voice. With these two talents combined, Kaprelian album Sinner Or A Saint doesn't disappoint. There is a lot of variety on this album, song wise; there is something for everyone. The lyrics are elegant, raw and honest, allowing listeners to make a deep connection with the music. As a whole this album exceeds expectations and will please both music fans and critics. It shows that Tamar Kaprelian has the talent and the right attitude to have a long lasting music career.

The album begins with Kaprelian's hit single New Day, a track that everyone is more than familiar with after hearing it played on many popular television shows. Despite its familiarity, New Day is a strong way to start the album, as it helps set the tone for the rest of the tracks. The song itself is inspirational; it gives hope that there will always be a better tomorrow. The lyrics are like a winding road. They tell a story of a person being so down and out, and lost in life. Eventually, they are able to accept their flaws and mistakes, and pull through for a fresh start. Musically, the piano, guitar and drums all work together beautifully to accompany the mood shifts in the song. When the lyrics are on the darker side, "I was sleeping in a twisted dream, dying just to make believe," the piano, guitar and drums all fall into a slow, heavy and eerie melody to match the feelings described in the song. Then, when the song picks up at the chorus with, "I was lost but I found what I was looking for, waking up, waking up to a new day," the piano, guitar and drums all shift into an upbeat, almost climatic arrangement that shows the shift in mood, from lost to hopeful. New Day is one of those songs that never gets old. Even if you have heard it a million times, when you hear it, it's like you're experiencing the song for the first time. This is perfect track to listen to if you need a pick me up, and it also demonstrates how gifted a songwriter, Tamar Kaprelian is.

Track two is the title track off the album, Sinner Or A Saint. For this song, Kaprelian collaborated with Ryan Tedder from One Republic and the lyrics represent the message of the song in a unique way. Sinner Or A Saint seems to be a metaphor to describe the different sides that are within everyone. We all have a play it safe side (good) and we all have a more adventurous side, that can get us into trouble (bad). These sides can come out during different times, and sometimes they can conflict. In this title track, Kaprelian sings about wanting be a sinner or a saint for a certain person. It's fitting that this is also the name of the album because the album as a whole is about vulnerability, identity, etc., and this track definitely shows inner battles with these concepts. Musically, this song is the perfect pop and rock combination. It's catchy like a pop song but it has a harder, more rock edge to it. Even though the song has a combined use of drums, guitar and piano, the drums is the driving force behind the beat of the song. The guitar and piano add creative twists in certain parts of the track, but the drums really make the melody what it is. Whether it's a heavy, steady beat or just light percussion, the drums are what will have the listeners nodding their heads and tapping their feet.

The third track off the album is Delicate Soul. Delicate Soul is a pure pop gem. The song is very infectious. It has a very upbeat, catchy melody and includes hand-clapping and finger-snapping in the song which makes it impossible not to bob your head to. The song speaks of being in true love, but also being scared of possible heartbreak. There are the pleading lyrics, "Please be gentle with me, baby, I'm a delicate soul," but the combination of the piano, drums, guitar, background vocals and hand-clapping all give the song an uplifting, hopeful melody. It gives the feeling that there will be no heartbreak and that everything will be OK. Moving into the fourth track on the album, Raining In Paradise is a spine chilling power ballad. With a simple and beautiful piano driven melody, Kaprelian's voice shines as she sings about faith. Raining In Paradise is about having faith and knowing that no matter how bad things are, they will get better. Brilliant imagery is used in this song as the lyrics paint a vivid picture of what is happening.

Track 5, Should Have Known Better shows a slightly darker edge, lyrically. This song is about being hurt and betrayed in a relationship. And when anyone does us wrong, we always seem to think we should have seen it coming, we should have known better. The lyrics have fight in them with lines such as, "forgive you? never...I'm back on my feet, finally free," which could easily make this an anthem for anyone who has been let down. The instruments used in this track match the fight and being freed mood of the lyrics. The song combines heavy drum beats, intricate guitar rhythms, light piano and even hints of a saxophone to create a sing-along type melody. Track 6, March Mornings is different from the previous tracks. It's a song about newfound faith and hope. The arrangement is very simple. All you can hear is strings and Kaprelian's voice. Her vocals are stunning in this song, showing off the lovely tone of her voice. The melody is fast paced and then slows down at some points; it's the perfect combination of fast and slow. Transcend, track 7 off of the album is another power ballad. The lyrics in this track really strike a chord, even more so than previous tracks. It's a song about moving on from someone or something and questioning whether if there actually is more to life. Kaprelian really displays her vocal range and the quality of her voice in this song.

Track 8, Raw will pleasantly surprise listeners. For the first 25 seconds, melody is soft and slow driven by piano and strings, but then it shifts into a fierce, powerful melody with a heavy drum beat as the piano and strings playing faster. Lyrically, Raw shows the fighting side of Kaprelian. The song is about being tired of being mistreated. It's about putting a foot down and fighting for respect and yourself, and finally breaking free from an unhealthy relationship. Track nine Purified is the exact opposite of Raw. It's a slower song which features heavy piano and strings and it's about having a person in your life that you are able to lean on in bad times. It could be a friend, parent, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc. and you just feel better and safer with this person in your life. The final track on the album, The Otherside (Aleatory) is a strong way to the end the album. It's a song that lyrically questions society and the world today. Why does the bad outweigh the good? This track incorporates a choir as background vocals which despite the lyrics, gives a faithful feeling. It's easy to picture this song being played in church. Before the song ends, there is a break, and then a beautiful piano instrumental begins. The instrumental gives feelings of hope and light. It's the perfect way to compliment the track and end the album.

As music listeners, we always search for that one album that we can listen to in its entirety. Too often, there will be a few songs on an album that we just can't get enough of and then the rest of the album is a disappointment. With Tamar Kaprelian's debut album Sinner Or A Saint, listeners will get everything they are looking for in an album. There is plenty of variety to please fans of any music genre because Kaprelian provides ballads and hints of pop, rock and classical music. Listeners will also be taken on a journey while listening to Sinner Or A Saint. Not only will you connect with the emotions behind the songs, but you will connect with Kaprelian herself. You will find yourself relating to the lyrics on the album, and as you go through each track, you will feel yourself taking a journey with Tamar Kaprelian. She wrote each song, and put her heart and soul into the album which shows through the honesty of the tracks. Tamar Kaprelian is a rare all-around talent in the music business today. Not only does she have a beautiful voice that suits any genre and range, but even at such a young age, she is writing songs like a veteran songwriter. This stems from her ability to put herself out there. She isn't afraid to be vulnerable. She isn't afraid to make the kind of music she wants to make and Sinner Or A Saint is direct proof of this.
 
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