• CD: Valerie DeLaCruz's "Glorious Noel"

    (GREG HAYMES of www.nippertown.com):

    Capital Region singer-songwriter Valerie DeLaCruz is probably best known for "My Girlfriends Quilt," a song that she wrote which later formed the basis of an hour-long public television special of the same name. That was five years ago.

    She readily admits that music had taken a back seat in her life during those ensuing years.

    "It was a joy, however, indulging myself to go back to Nashville and record this Christmas album with my long time producer Mark Oliverius," she admits. "I think I miss studio singing most of all the process, the collaboration, the nuance that can be captured in the intimacy of the sound booth."

    That sense of warmth and intimacy is in full flower on "Glorious Noel," a collection of nine classic Christmas carols. DeLaCruz sings with grace and assurance, as she eases through gems like the opening "Away in a Manger," "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" and "O Come All Ye Faithful." She doesn't jazz them up or twang then down. She just sings them straight from the heart, focusing on the strength of the melodies to carry the message home.

    These traditional songs of the season are wrapped in lush, easy-listening arrangements and orchestration, although producer Oliverius gets a little carried away with "O Holy Night," underscoring it with a hip-hop shuffle drum track and bringing it to an over-the-top conclusion that sounds as though it's headed for Trans-Siberian Orchestra prog-rock territory.

    DeLaCruz wraps up the disc with the lone original tune "You Make Me Believe." And while it doesn't quite measure up to the classic carols that precede it, it's one of those all-too-rare newly penned Christmas songs that actually bears up well to repeated listening.

    This album isn't likely to get a lot of spin at the office Christmas party. It's too ballad-heavy for that. But it's a fine soundtrack for a snuggle by the fireplace with that certain special someone, as the snow drifts down outside the window.

    "Glorious Noel" is available directly from DeLaCruz, as well as from such outlets as CDBaby and Amazon.

  • "This album not only makes for great listening, but is very much in vogue with today's cutting-edge, modern country."--Country Music International, November 2001
  • Robust singing, nifty production, cool little song. An auspicious debut--Robert K. Oermann, Music Row Magazine
  • "Her album is one of the finest I've run across this year, with emotional depth and excellent music. She wrote or co-wrote seven of the 11 songs. The voice of this upper New York state resident is reminiscent of Canadians Terri Clark and Michelle Wright." --Don Rhodes, Augusta Chronicle
  • "If you're in the mood for soulful pop-country with a heavy dose of "girl power" and you're a fan of Beth Nielsen Chapman and Matraca Berg, check out "They'll Never Know" on Relentless Nashville. Of note is Valerie's catchy "Hey! That's My Kiss," which was named Song of the Year in 1998 by the NorthEast CMA."---Country Music Today

    Irish Country Music Review

  • "DeLaCruz is the debut artist on Nashville-based Relentless Records. The tune chosen as her first single has already garnered lots of exposure, winning the Great American Song Contest (Country) and also being named the Northeast Country Music Association's song of the year. (DeLaCruz won the organization's songwriter of the year accolade in both '97 and '98.) DeLaCruz honed her performance skills on the New England Club circuit and also by opening for Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Tracy Byrd, adn other artists. This single from her album, "They'll Never Know," spotlights DeLaCruz's noteworthy vocals. She has a strong alto that glides effortlessly through this uptempo number. The well-written lyric chronicles her hurt and disappointment at seeing the object of her affection puckering up to another. Being on an indie label, this single will no doubt fight an uphill battle at country radio, but it's a solid effort and deserves attention."---Billboard Magazine, Singles Review, September 2, 2000
  • The following are album reviews by Doug Morris

    "Bootleg" - Each copy of this album bears a serial number; I own #197. It has 12 tracks, and Valerie wrote 8 of them and co-wrote the other 4!! Valerie's songs are stories. Of events in her life or others or dreams, I can't say. She has a very nice soft, warm voice and it conveys the stories so well that they can make pictures in your mind if you close your eyes while listening to the songs. My own favorite picks from this disc are, "Honey Love", "Sky Blue", "The Secret", and "Just Tell Me With Your Kiss." Also notable are "We Think There's A Choice," a story of the aftereffects of an aborted pregnancy, and "Renaissance Of Love," which involves a subject of all married couples who have children will be familiar with; "Honey, the kids aren't home tonight!"

    "They'll Never Know" - This album has 11 tracks, 7 of which were written or co-written by Valerie. I think I probably enjoyed this album a little more than the "Bootleg" album. Why? I guess it just comes down to the song selection. My favorite titles on this album are "Hey! That's My Kiss", "They'll Never Know", "See What You Do", "Back To The Beginning", "Fool That I Am", and my pick for best track, "This Is Me Leaving." All in all, this is an extremely good album and a definite good buy I would highly recommend to fans of both, country and pop.

    "My Girlfriend's Quilt"- This song, "My Girlfriends Quilt," I think can best be described as a song of friends helping friends in need, during a crisis time that only be described with words such as "huge" and "tragic." There are 15 tracks on the album, several of which were written by Valerie. All 15 are songs on a central theme of friendship. This album would be an excellent choice for those who have a friend in crisis and in need of support. Not only will it help your friend (and you), but will also help all women everywhere, through supporting the fight against breast cancer via a $5 donation by Valerie for every album sold. A worthwhile purchase for that reason if no other.

  • "Her performance at the NorthEast CMA Awards Show was SMOKIN'!" ...Kevin Richards, deejay for WGNA 107.7fm
  • "Hey! That's My Kiss is a snappy country rocker boasts a simply superb production featuring some nifty innovative percussion."---Bob Oermann, Music Row Magazine
  • "For those who like their country music served up with a healthy dose of syrup, DeLaCruz fits the bill...this is well-executed country-pop... Some peppy fiddle on "That's Why I Like Your Love and a nice acoustic guitar setup to "Hey! That's My Kiss."DeLaCruz has good range as a vocalist and is a capable lyricist..."My Girlfriends Quilt" seems heartfelt and has effective and personal imagery. Indeed, much of the album has a girl-talk tone that almost feels as if one is listening in on someone else's private conversation...when she turns it loose, it works.---Billboard Magazine August 12, 2000
  • "Light rock and pop in the rural spirit of country and folk. With a dynamic range and warm tremolo vocal bits, it sounds like she's had years of professional voice lessons." ...Snap.com
  • "The best song on the CD in my opinion is "THEY'LL NEVER KNOW" which I feel can become a true Country Classic." ...Steve Hudis, BRIEFME.com
  • "Valerie DeLaCruz has given us a gift with this song (My Girlfriends Quilt). It is a song that meanders all around your spirit, into all the nooks and crannies, and brightens some of the shadows, opens up some windows that might have been closed too long, and tickles your memories." ...Jan Principe, Spotlight on Country Magazine
  • "Now this lady has some pipes. This is a solid project, which showcases DeLaCruz as a powerful vocalist with hints of Patty Loveless and Trisha Yearwood... With her tunesmithing, she could easily be a double threat... and she has the tools to make it on her voice alone." ...Country Songwriter Magazine
  • "DeLaCruz shined throughout; her comfortable stage presence and joy of just being there were totally infectious. She can certainly sing the heck out of any genre she chooses." ...David Malachowski, former bandleader for Shania Twain
  • "The album with 4 originals and 11 covers is more a showcase for DeLaCruz as a singer than a songwriter... and her ready-for-radio compositions catch the ear..." ...Peter Hanson, Metroland Magazine
  • "Such solid songs as 'You're the Happy Ending' and 'Sure-Fire Kisses' prove DeLaCruz has obviously learned her lessons well" ...Greg Haymes, music critic for the Times Union
  • "Valerie DeLaCruz captured Songwriter of the Year honors (sic: from the Northeast CMA)... Her bright, stage-savvy performance of 'You're the Happy Ending' was one of the evening's musical highlights." ...Michael Eck, music critic for the Times Union
  • "The phones are phenomenal whenever we play 'They'll Never Know.' This song is a hit!" ...Ken McGrail, program director for WJKE 101.3fm, Malta, NY
  • "She writes from a healthy perspective with not one ounce of angst and pulls it off with a voice that's very clear and straightforward." ...Don Wilcock Troy Record
  • "The most positive CD I've listened to all year...Valerie has a fine, strong voice which I could see doing a TNN video. Standards like 'You've Got a Friend,' 'Both Sides Now' and 'With a Little Help From My Friends' are done with a sincere eagerness that make you just want to smile at the person next to you." ...Ben Omart, on-line music critic
  • "DeLaCruz takes classics and makes them her signature. Valerie DeLaCruz has a signature style and in this selection of some fine cover tunes, she brings that style to its most pleasurable and listenable. Especially notable is her cover of Todd Rundgren's "Can We Still Be Friends." With a presence that comes through strong and clear, DeLaCruz gives Todd's song a very female friendly twist. Buy this CD as a gift for a best friend or a sister. The words and DeLaCruz's voice speak volumes." ...Michelle Solomon, Arts Entertainment editor of the Detroit Free Press

 Valerie recently received honorable mentions
from both Unisong International Song Contest
and theUSA Songwriting Competitionfor the
same song: Phantom Love

 Valerie was inducted into the New York State Country Music Hall of Fame on June 3, 2001. "This is an honor I can't describe and I'm so grateful to the Hall of Fame and the wonderful upstate New York fans."

 FIRST PRIZE (Country) in the Great American Song Contest 1999 for "Hey! That's My Kiss," Valerie's first single from "They'll Never Know," fromGreatAmericanSong.com sponsored by
Songwriters Resource Network

 While Valerie loves performing, she is very proud of her recognition as a songwriter, as shown here winning "Songwriter of the Year Award" from the NorthEast CMA

 • 1998 NorthEast CMA Songwriter of the Year Award
• 1998 NorthEast CMA Song of the Year for Hey! That's My Kiss

 Disney Magic Music Days - 1998 Appreciation Award

 Women of Excellence Award

 1997 NorthEast CMA Songwriter of the Year Award

 Fort Bend Songwriters Assocation 1998 2nd Place Country/Bluegrass for Hey! That's My Kiss

 Fort Bend Songwriters Assocation 1998 3rd Place Country/Bluegrass for Can I Resist You?

 Fort Bend Songwriters Assocation 1998 4nd Place Folk for My Girlfriends Quilt

 USA Songwriting Competition 1997 1st Prize Country Category for You're My Happy Ending