Jackie Evancho AwakeningWhen Jackie Evancho showed the world her stuff on America’s Got Talent at the young age of ten, she easily wowed the judges, and the rest of us. Although she eventually lost the prize to WHO?, she has since made quite an impressive mark in the crossover world of Classical and Pop. With a series of albums already released, including a million-selling holiday set (Heavenly Christmas), Jackie Evancho is quickly – and early – setting herself on firm foundation for a rich and long career. Her latest album, Awakening, goes an immeasurably long way in helping establish that footing.

Awakening has twelve songs on it including the cover of the early U2 classic, “With Or Without You”, and her timeless version of “The Rains of Castamere”, the song from Game Of Thrones. But those two do not define the album. They serve to enhance what is already great. They join a remarkable selection of songs that explore the range of depth she is gathering unto herself.

On Awakening, she selects some classical standards like the traditional and important “Ave Maria” by Vladimir Vavilov; and the beauty of Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise”. With those two, she gives an ethereal beauty that is uniquely her own. In so doing, she makes the songs themselves unique performances. Her recording of “Ave Maria” is exquisite and absorbing. Jackie Evancho also gives “Think Of Me”, a piece from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom Of The Opera, her hypnotic voice treatment leaving many of us in awe of what can come further in her life.

One of the more surprising offerings on Awakenings is her rendition of “Memories”, by the Dutch symphonic metal band, Within Temptation. Within Temptation is fronted by Sharon den Adel, who has a great voice of her own. (As a record, “Memories” is from the 2004 The Silent Force album by Within Temptation.) On Awakening, Jackie Evancho stays true to the elements of the song, yet providing it the gorgeous vocal that seemingly makes it more elegiac than the original.

In addition to the many popular and previously recorded songs on Awakening, Jackie Evancho gives her stunning soul-reaching, able to reach in deep and squeeze, vocals to several original songs. “Take Me There”, written by Johan Oberholzer, (a songwriter employed by Universal Music), shows the polished range that is possible as a path for Miss Evancho, although I love her current explorations heard on Awakening. There is also her application of perfection to “Open Fields Of Grace”, a song of faith co-written by Lisa Venkatrathnam, and Paul Sumares. she converts her voice to deliver the mysteriously beautiful intent of the lyrics.

A final word about her version of “With Or Without You” found on this album is necessary. The song is well known to many across the world, and therefore, will draw up the requisite comparisons, her rendition to the original. But what needs to be said here is that not only does Jackie Evancho nail the spirit of the lyrics, indeed the song itself, she turns it into a powerful and evocative version that will not fall back after having heard it. Her version can easily stand on its own, without the comparisons. Yes, her “With Or Without You” is a powerful song, and should be heard by lovers of the original.

Jackie Evancho is a modern miracle of voice. Her new album, Awakening, provides twelve stunning examples and 49 brilliant minutes (and 39 seconds) of her greatness.

Release Date: September 22 (UK), September 23 (US), 2014
Label: Sony Music Masterworks / Portrait
Availability: CD, DD, LP

–Matt Rowe

By MARowe

19 thoughts on “Review: Awakening – Jackie Evancho”
  1. Finally there is a music critic who knows when a singer shines above the clouds. The words here hit the nail right on the head and Matt knows what he is talking about in my opinion.

  2. Excellent review, seems you are as captivated by Jackie’s musical magic as am I and thousands of others around the world.

    Just one correction: It is her EP of “O Holy Night” that is certified platinum, not “Heavenly Christmas”.

  3. All of us have been saying this about Jackie for 4 years now, so its about time someone else, let alone a music critic, sees the amazing power of Jackie Evancho. Thanks Matt for the kind and truthful words about her because Jackie is only just getting started!!!!

  4. Best review of Jackie I’ve ever read!! You gave me goosebumps! However, you neglected to mention the song that for me most reflects her true mind; Made To Dream. I hope you will amend your review to talk about this most remarkable song, sung by this most remarkable singer and written by Jean-Pierre Steyn from Cape Town SA.

  5. Matt excellent review,thank you for taking the time to actually listen to Jackie as an artist,rather than dismissing her because of her youth.She needs this honest assesment of her work to feel that her hard work and talent are making important critical inroads.It is interesting that fellow artists gush when they hear her live,yet she has been overlooked thus far for important musical awards. I think that in years to come, you will feel proud that you had the insight to recognize true talent when you found it.

  6. Matt, thanks for this review, Jackie is so often judged against classically trained singers, and she is not like them at all, she has a unique talent that many people enjoy. My CD of this arrived from across the pond today (I live in the UK) and I have to say it is beautifully done, having listened to it a few times I really like Made To Dream, Jackie sings it so well, I hope it gets the recognition it deserves.

  7. I think Jackie is going to go down in history as one of the all-time best singers in the world. She already has millions of fans across the world. I do not have a musical background to judge specifics. I can only judge her on the effect she has had on me and how she has captivated my soul.

  8. Fabulous review, Matt, that actually discusses Jackie as an artist and not just a teen sensation. Irrespective of age, Jackie is among the very best singers in the world. She deserves the serious consideration and respect you have given her.

  9. The best review of any of Jackie’s work I have ever read! Matt, it’s nice to have a person of your credentials vindicate what we fans have known for a long time! If you think the Awakening album is superb, attend one of her concerts! It will take at least a week for the euphoric brain fog to clear away enough to come up with a coherent review once you do!

  10. I enjoyed your article. Jackie’s voice is a gift to the world. Thank you for bringing her to my attention with your beautiful words.

  11. A very excellent review, I see you like the album for what it is,various types of songs being made special and spell binding by a young lady who may be a once in a hundred year event. We all love Jackie !

  12. A good and perceptive review. Kind of surprised you didn’t talk about her lower register which is developing nicely and then her ethereal crystalline higher register. Those high notes caught me off guard, didn’t know she could do that.

  13. Matt your review is very nicely done. Have been a totally big fan of Jackie from the beginning and have enjoyed every new CD released. This has to be the very best yet to date, far and away. There are some other critics over on Amazon that have great praise of this CD also. Cudos to you for yours. When I very first heard her sing the operatic arias, I thought to myself, so he decided to come back and gift us with the voice again with a wrinkle in a girl. This girl was not born per say with this voice she was gifted with it at birth. Enrico decided to come back and did so in her. Jackie is 14, the voice is 40. My Grand Father drank beer with Enrico in SF back then and from the stories he told me, that would fit his sense of humour!
    Your thought on thisgt;

  14. Mr. Rowe,

    I thank you for this wonderful review of Jackie’s album, Awakening”. I had a great hassle trying to obtain the album. Started looking a few days before it was released. Tried Walmart and no luck so went to Amazon and ordered it. It showed up in 3 days. It took Walmart until the `12th of this month to get it in. I bought it so I could have the Christmas songs she recorded on a separate CD.
    Today is my 72 birthday and I wish to pass on to all of Jackie’s followers and fans, this is probably the most expressive and captivating album (awakening) that I have ever listened to. Her high Bb is so clear that it has the peal of a bell. I didn’t know that those high notes could ever be reached, especially by someone that is 14.
    I have followed JME since the beginning on youtube. I have all of her albums and would trade all of my other albums by singing sensations for her Prelude to a Dream.
    To JOlsen. I don’t know if Enrico sent his voice, but I am willing to say that God has provided us with a legendary talent that will probably never be beat.

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