A few months ago, I found myself reviewing "Sugar Ray: Music In High Places". While I'm certainly a fan of many of the music programs that have been offered on DVD, this series not only offered some fun adventures with the group, but performances (both electric and accoustic) of the group's most famous tunes in interesting places around Australia. The mixture of travel program and concert might not have worked, but the filmmakers seem to maintain a relaxed atmosphere and, as a result, the performers genuinely seem to be having fun having new experiences in beautiful foreign lands.
This time around, R & B singer Joy Enriquez ventures to Puerto Rico, where the 11-time "Star Search" winner plays accoustic versions of her songs: Situation, Without You, Not Alone, Losin' the Love, Vete Ya, Just When I Needed You, How Can I Not Love You, Someday and Shake Up the Party in incredible locations around Puerto Rico, including in limestone caves.
I'd never heard Enriquez's music before, but I really found her particular blend of R & B to be very enjoyable. Her ballads are sincere and catchy, while her more uptempo songs have a great beat, supplyed by her talented backing band. Most of all, her voice is soulful and rich - clearly presented by the DVD's very enjoyable sound presentation. As for the location footage, Enriquez seems to genuinely be having a blast as she visits with local people and learns more about the culture of the area. There's one particularly hilarious moment where Enriquez seems totally involved in a serious ballad, then the moment its over, she playfully yells at the crew for continuing to shoot even after they saw a giant mosquito attacking her. "Music In High Places" succeeds again in its highly creative concept: let a singer or band loose in a beautiful and exotic location and capture both their enjoyment and performances that are fresh and lively, energized by the surroundings. And, for those interested in both eye-and-ear candy, not only are the singer's songs enjoyable, but she's beautiful in a fresh-faced, natural way.
VIDEO: "Joy Enriquez: Music In High Places" is presented in non-anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen. While it's rather unfortunate that this title isn't presented in anamorphic widescreen, the picture quality is certainly still excellent nonetheless. While sharpness and detail are slightly lacking during a few moments that appear as if they were shot on video, the rest of the program either looks crisp and well-defined or, on several occasions, crystal clear with very nice depth to the image. Aside from the infrequent scenes that appeared softer in comparison, I didn't notice any of the usual problems (edge enhancement, pixelation).
SOUND: This edition of "Music In High Places" is listed as having a Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation. Given the fact that the center channel essentially goes unused, it seems more like 4.1, with the music provided by the front two main speakers and the surrounds providing very natural and pleasant reinforcement/reverb as well as some ambient sounds during the stops at various locations. What I was most pleased about was that Enriquez's voice still stands out in the front two speakers and is nicely balanced with the instrumentals; neither element overshadows the other. The singer's remarkable voice is captured quite wonderfully - the high notes she hits come through clearly. Interviews sound equally crisp and easily heard.
MENUS: Menus are basic, offering images of Enriquez in the background. Options are clearly visible and navigation is easy, though.
EXTRAS: Two featurettes (Behind the Scenes, Getting There) begin the supplemental section. Each has a different title, but both generally cover the same topics, as we're shown interviews with Enriquez as well as the band and crew having fun and cracking jokes while trying to transport all the material from location to location.
Next up is "Interviews", which offers both the interview snippets that were included in the main program as well as a good deal of interviews that must have been deleted due to time. These interview clips play back-to-back for just under 29 minutes. While these are interesting, "Location Footage" is even more enjoyable, providing several interesting and entertaining sequences of Enriquez visiting various locations, chatting with locals and learning more about the history of the culture. The "On Location" featurette lasts 35 minutes; while there did seem to be some footage from the show mixed in, much of it seemed like deleted or extended material.
Also: Several "promo" spots starring Enriquez are included, as is a biography and the option to play "Just The Music" (although this option only offers the music in 2.0 - which has pleasant quality, but is not as enveloping.
Final Thoughts: "Joy Enriquez: Music In High Places" is a really fun new edition of the MIHP series, as Enriquez (whose debut album came out in 2001) is clearly a talent to watch. Image Entertainment's DVD offers good audio/video quality and some enjoyable extras. Recommended.