Innocence And Illusion is the debut album by the incredibly talented Amanda Lehmann. Lehmann has seen her profile steadily rise over the past decade as a result of her musical association with Steve Hackett. Hackett has utilized Lehmann’s talents in the studio and in the live arena to great effect. Serving as a backing vocalist, second guitarist and occasional lead vocalist, Lehmann has shone greatly. She has performed exceptionally well in a supporting role. With her fantastic debut album she boldly steps into the spotlight.
Over the course of nine songs Lehmann explores a diverse range of genres. She effectively delves into progressive rock, classic rock, folk music, jazz, pop and blues. Lehmann mixes and matches various elements from these genres and takes the listener on quite a musical and emotional journey. The diversity on display throughout the album allows Lehmann the opportunity to explore different shades and timbres of her voice. Whether her voice is soft and delicate, low and sultry or powerful and slightly raspy, she excels. As a vocalist Lehmann is a brilliant storyteller. She possesses an ability to make every word and phase come to life. Lehmann goes beyond merely singing words and hitting the proper notes. She puts so much passion and conviction into the songs. Lehmann provides all of the album’s vocals. She ably creates lush harmonies over which she applies her multifaceted lead vocals. Lehmann’s gorgeous vocals are a prime reason to listen to the album.
Possessing a voice like Lehmann’s would be more than enough for most. In addition to her vocal abilities Lehmann is also a fiercely talented guitarist. Innocence And Illusion showcases many fine examples of Lehmann’s six string skills. Whether it is on the acoustic guitar or the electric guitar, her fretboard proficiency is quite clear. The album is filled with many moments of tasteful and melodic guitar play. Lehmann’s voice is the star of the album. Her guitar playing is the album’s strong supporting co-star. As if that were not enough Lehmann also plays piano and keyboards on a few songs. All of these musical elements work together in tandem. She combines all of that musical talent with a keen ability to craft wonderfully melodic songs full of emotion and drama. All of her talents would be a vain notion if there was not a proper vehicle to display them. There is a confidence and maturity to her songwriting. She is totally in her element throughout the album regardless of the genre. The lyrics, her vocals, the guitars, the music; all work together to support and showcase her musical creations.
Lehmann is ably assisted by a few highly talented friends. Steve Hackett applies his unique guitar play, as well as his undervalued harmonica to a few songs. Hackett band member Rob Townsend provides his distinct and colorful saxophone on two songs. Current Hackett keyboardist Roger King contributes keyboards and programming on two songs. The mighty Nick Magnus, former Hackett keyboardist and collaborator, produces the album as well as adding his subtle, but effective keyboards and programming. Magnus and his melodic keyboards perfectly compliment Lehmann’s excellent songcraft. Lehmann wrote the bulk of the album’s music and lyrics. Steve Hackett composed the music to one track. Lehmann wisely chose a solid group of musicians to assist her on the album. That said, Innocence And Illusion is Lehmann’s creation. The guest musicians effectively add color and personality to Lehmann’s work. Lehmann and her well chosen supporting cast come together to produce an album of stunningly beautify music. They have assisted Lehmann in creating an album that is filled with a sense of innocence, mystery, joy and wonder.
Amanda Lehmann’s debut album is a stellar musical accomplishment that she should be proud of. It is obvious that the creation of the album was a true labor of love. Innocence And Illusion is the work of a highly talented singer, songwriter, guitarist and musician. I am hopefully that at some point she will be able to put a band together and take her music out on the road. In the meantime she continues to contribute to Steve Hackett’s studio albums and play live shows with his band. The future looks quite bright for Amanda Lehmann. I am already looking forward to her follow-up album.