Friday, October 15, 2021

Upon the Corner of the Moon By Laurence Furr

 


Upon the Corner of the Moon

By

Laurence Furr

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There is a power behind music that is so meaningful, so tender and focused, it can be created by an artist to do so much good, to calm the minds and hearts, and to bring tranquillity to the weary body, these observations could easily be said about the musical performances by Harpist Laurence Furr, whose Harp is an instrument of peace and serenity, and many who have listened to his mesmeric works have felt a healing energy flow from his arrangements.

We once again travel with Laurence on a new journey, this sojourn is called Upon the Corner of the Moon, it is some of the most blissful acoustic music your ever likely to hear. The title track is a dimensional portal to a whole world of calm; the performance is so fluent and settles the listener down with ease in seconds.

The beauty of this next piece is self-evident, from the very first touch on the Harp we are taken to a place of great serenity, a slow upward progression is taken to a lush and vast vantage point, where one can sit and just be; Furr’s presentation here is both melodic and sun kissed, on the track Jacob's Stairway.

Following on the back of his massive hit album Deep Peace, Furr has continued that energy and manifested a further layer of calm within the weave of this new release, and on Where Angels Tread, we have a light but more rhythmic composition that literally floats all around us as we listen.

The Weight of Beauty is our next musical way station, and another moment to float in the arms of the angelic realms of serenity; this song is a fine example of ambience personified and quietude exemplified, listen to the gentle almost pristine melody within this track, it is so very pretty that one could with ease, imagine this being music from a magical jewellery box.

As we reach Garner Fields, there is a slightly deeper energy to be found, a slight minor flavour is added to this recipe of attractiveness, a piece that reminds me of an old style new age track, perhaps performed by an artist like Patricia Spero back in the lazy hazy days of the early part of this century.

A more rhythmic approach is taken here on Genoveva's Dance; one could easily feel the movement and sway within this composition, combined here was a clever energy of happiness and reflection; mixed all together in a truly radiant opus of sound.

As we step into the second half of the album we come across one of my personal favourites from the release called The Turquoise Door, apart from being one of my favourite colours, we have a piece here that suggests a doorway to an inner dimension of tranquillity, and Furr’s performance is the mechanism with which to get there, and then enjoy it’s contentment, a very meditative piece indeed.

About 10 years ago I spent some time in the Midwest, whilst there I spotted the title to this song Fireflies, sadly I’ve never seen them again since, such delicacy and such beauty all rolled into one, and that is exactly what you get from Laurence Furr’s performance on this rich and colourful composition.

The title of this song gives us a Celtic hint as we roll down the footpath to McDermott's Pub, a jolly piece indeed, one where a collective energy of happiness can be found, and perhaps a visual image of rolling green hills and blue seas from the window of the pub too.

This next offering is entitled Angels Landing, it is so pristine, so elegant, this could have easily been created by the wings of a butterfly, it is such a soft and warming arrangement, one could easily lie in the arms of an angel and simply drift off to a land of preverbal perfection and harmony; there is something about this piece that feels almost transcendent.

The deeper waters of this album have been found and as we glide on this rippling oasis of musical charm we come across a piece, so reflective and deeply moving, and called She Handed Me Her Harp. Music is such a great healer and this is one of those compositions that may well release the emotions and enable the listener to simply let go.

The shortest track off the album is also our penultimate offering called Green Fields of Ireland, now here is a piece with a Celtic motif and one can simply now enjoy the charm of a land, where green meadows and hillsides seem to roll on forever.

Our final gift from the artist is called Matthew's Heart, this could well be a dedicational piece and if so what a charming way to leave the album, with a track that offers up such positivity and intent, played with a heart full of love and respect.

Upon the Corner of the Moon by Laurence Furr is one of those albums you could leave on repeat for hours, and in doing so, manifest some of the calmest energy in a location as you would ever wish to find. Here the artist has brought into being one of the most ambient and certainly most calming releases of the year thus far. Laurence Furr and Upon the Corner of the Moon is a release that when purchased, will bring many hours of calmness, stillness and composure, to any household that has the good sense to do so.


Thursday, October 14, 2021

An Approaching Storm By Derek Wille

 


An Approaching Storm

By

Derek Wille

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

A new musician arrives on the radar for me, and I am excited to be able to take in the latest Myndstream artist in Derek Wille, this being his debut album one has to say it’s an incredible start for the composer, as something dramatic and melodic this way comes.

A subject dear to my heart is embraced through An Approaching Storm, and indeed the title track gets us underway with an exciting ride of solo piano. This is a masterful performance, creating a perfect depiction of a huge storm heading our way, sometimes pulling back as if the thunder can be heard rolling in the distance.

There are many beautiful moments of musical craft on this new debut album by Wille, the musical narrative of Last Kiss could have been taken from a David Lanz song book, it is so romantic, whilst Cold Day has that depth and sharpness that brilliantly illustrated the subject matter.

One of my personal favourites was the smooth and tranquil tones of Green In Blue, here is a composition of great quality, in my view this is one of the most illustrative and expressive moments of solo piano I have heard for quite a while, this is a wonderfully reflective and emotive composition, one could sit and watch the sun set to this piece, and still want more.

This eleven track album is filled from top to bottom with incredibly illuminating solo piano performances, and topped off by the concluding offering entitled Waking Up Late Morning. One could visualise pulling the curtains back after waking, and watching the sun break through the clouds, creating a perfect opportunity of a brand new day to this ending offering.

An Approaching Storm by Derek Wille is one of the most visionary debut albums of solo piano I have heard for simply years, if this album is anything to go by, a bright future lays ahead for Derek Wille, one that will touch hearts, ease minds, and bring a wide smile of contentment to lovers of really good music everywhere.


Auroral Magic By Chakuna Machi Asa

 


Auroral Magic

By

Chakuna Machi Asa

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

A new album arrived on my desktop to review, and one so interesting that it took me back in time in many ways, musically and spiritually. Auroral Magic by Chakuna Machi Asa touches base with a simplicity of sound and tone, but in doing so creates a healing energy that flows through the vibrations of the album, and the gentleness of the tracks creates an idyllic surrounding you will never wish to leave.

A prime example of the end of that last statement of mine, is the first track off the album entitled Blood of our Ghost, listening to the artist imploring refrains and tender vocals was a sublime scene setter, the natural sounds simply beautiful, but a relevant focus for all that is truly real, one could with ease see the singer manifesting a moment of sublime oneness by a mountain stream with her guitar.

If we glance to our left we can see a new energy building and this composition is called Elven Magic, this is a truly powerful opus that has a blissful addictive quality to its construction, in an almost Lord of the Rings style. We can through the music feel the essences of a ceremony beginning to build perhaps.

On Planet Xeron we have a completely different style of composition, one that mixes an ambient nature with a sultry chilled rhythm. This reminds me of a lucid dream I had once, a mixture of cultures were there in a circle of peace and positivity; a smooth flowing beat with a delightful soothing vocal can be found in this mesmeric offering.

This must be one of the most unique albums I have heard for many a year and once again change is offered through this next song entitled Dancing Reflections. The water sounds here gives us a clue that there is a duality within this musical narrative that is being discussed, the shimmering qualities of light on the ripples of a lake perhaps, and the pianos repetitive but scaled performance bring us a clever dance between the sun and the water, utterly transcendent and transfixing

From one element to another now as we reach the track The Wind, this has to be one of my favourite pieces off the album, a meditative offering indeed, and I could have used this exact piece whilst I was meditating by the pool only yesterday, I gazed at the way the wind played with the branches of the palm trees, and closed my eyes in meditation as the sound of the wind drifted through its proud green leaves, this specific track would have been perfect for that occasion, a piece deeply bathed in the stillness of the moment.

I can always tell when I have been literally hooked by an album, I had forgotten to save my work thus far, and we are over half way through the release, always a good sign for me, so with that done, let’s continue to move forward and into the piece called Time Womb. This is another clever offering; there is a throbbing beat here that perhaps given the subject matter one could expect, then an added layer of keyboards and electronic wizardry, this combination craft-fully may well be exploring all facets of life and its impermanence.

On Blue Moon we have a different energy here completely, the keyboards create a tentative mood, there is an energy of a possible creation that seems yet to have formed within this realm, but is expected to do so, the use of pause here is sublime, creating further anticipation within the composition, that makes it for me one of the most artistic offerings from the release.

Interestingly enough I am host of a space music show on One World Music Radio, and mostly the music that flows there is of an electronic nature, but I am going to include this one on my next show, as Space Shift has a beautiful compositional structure that manifests for us a vast realm and spacious dimension with which we can wonder through, perhaps we are even exploring ourselves within the role of the grand universe itself, a splendid combination of vocalisations, keyboards, synths, and a galactic awareness so very powerful, a truly special track indeed.

The longest creation from the album is up next and called Our Escape, A delicate onward movement of keyboards and chants can be found here, and reminded me in part of some of the Reiki chanting I use to once do. The simplicity of the keyboards here are perhaps showing us the way from suffering and into unconditional love. This is one of those songs that there is so much contained within it, that I would advise multiple listens, each one will be fresh, but still utterly enjoyable.

The gentle flow that is The Whale Song is up next and is without doubt the most melodic offering from the album. Here we have a track that tells us that the whale is completely at home within its own environment, and thus the composition manifests a harmonic resonance that is both deep and knowledgeable to reflect that. Chakuna Machi Asa has manifested something here that is so inspiring and fluent, a pieced filled with the wisdom of, and gratitude that, Whale energy can teach us, simply beautiful with every note played.

Our penultimate track is a dedication written for the artist’s stepfather called John. The natural sounds and gentle keyboards bring us an idyllic location to just sit, be and reflect; regardless, it is a beautiful composition with which to honour him.

Our final gateway to this musical reality is the title header and of course called Auroral Magic, this song will have a multitude of possible meanings for all those who listen to it, each of us has our own magic we may choose to bring forward, it is an invitation to bathe in the pool of hope whilst listening to it, and one must say the perfect way to leave a wonderfully flowing and heart felt album.

Auroral Magic by Chakuna Machi Asa has to be one of the best New Age music albums of the year so far, it is so creative, so wide in its musical narration, and vastly abundant in its rich tapestries of colour and tone. Auroral Magic by Chakuna Machi Asa is an album that has been crafted from the fires of artistic brilliance, and forged in the flames of pure class, and without doubt should be on everyone’s must have list.


Beginnings By Lisa Cullum

 


Beginnings

By Lisa Cullum

Written by

Chrissie Sheppard

 

It was such a delight to listen to the latest single “Beginnings” from Lisa Cullum today; it was the perfect way to start my day, the refreshing tones of piano with a light orchestral arrangement eased me into my morning, helped me slow the pace down, so that I could simply sit and just be at ease for a while, as I made my way into the day.

This new single from Lisa was written in loving memory of Saylor Rose Kerlin, a young child who tragically lost their life in an accident, and has been released through the Yellow Rose Records label, and is just what I have come to expect from Lisa, her performance style is always so delicate and performed from her heart.

A beautifully written and performed piece of music by Lisa Cullum that should be a huge hit for her and one that I know listeners who like good music that is performed with a delicate touch will enjoy. 


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Emerald By Al Jewer & Andy Mitran

 


Emerald

By

Al Jewer & Andy Mitran

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There can be few partnerships I have more respect than those of Al Jewer & Andy Mitran, this combination is a winner from the word go, and I have been following their musical releases and progress ever since 2003 and the album Two Trees.

Here on this illustrious new single entitled Emerald they are joined by Hans Christian and his trusty Cello, and his contribution manifests such beautiful melodies, all on a bed of tranquillity.

The smoothness of this blissful piece is so soothing; it also gave Mitran a sparkling opportunity to excel with the Marimba, which he does with great ease and style, while Jewer’s flute is the main stream of narrative within the new single, the musical maestro if you will.

This is one of the most beautiful compositions I have heard from this combination of talented artists, and I sense a thumbs up, and a good chart position to follow soon for Emerald by Al Jewer & Andy Mitran.


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Song Divine By Lissa Coffey & David Vito Gregoli

 


Song Divine

By Lissa Coffey & David Vito Gregoli

Written by

Steve & Chrissie Sheppard

 

Song Divine is a wonderful new release, written as a Rock Opera in style; it tells a story through music that is based on the book Song Divine: A New Lyrical Rendition of the Bhagavad Gita by Lissa Coffey. It is a double album with 18 wonderful soulful compositions that give us the conversation between Arjuna (sung by Alexander Perez) and his friend Krishna (sung by Deepak Ramapriyan).

It is important to listen to the introduction, as it will set the scene perfectly for you to follow the story as the music takes you on your journey through the music.

The album opens with Arjuna questioning the battle which is set to occur, but he is conflicted, fighting goes against his beliefs, these are people he knows not his enemies, so he asks his friend Krishna for advice. What follows through the music is how this conversation plays out.

From the very opening track we are pulled into this vast story and our sojourn begins with the heart felt questioning mind of Life’s Lament. Throughout this creative, and one has to say amazing new work, we hear absolutely stunning performances by both Perez and Ramapriyan, on no less than 18 quite breath taking opuses of grandeur.

As we weave our way through this collective of creation, we are gifted beautifully fluent performances, the gifted and inspiring Know Who You Are is a powerful composition of truth and realisation, with stunning vocals from a man who has been described as the Elvis of India, Sonu Nigam, one also has to enjoy the Beatles feel within this offering as well.

Each and every track has been beautifully produced and performed; a fine example of this crafted and artistic approach is the soulful One Thing I Can Do (Karma Yoga) a track about devotion and self-control, and the deep waters of pieces like a personal favourite of ours, Arise, Arjuna can be felt deep within your very soul; the symbiotic performances by Perez and Ramapriyan are so clear and insightful here.

The music within this album is also vibrant and at times crosses many genres and invents new ones as it goes like the almost funky Lotus in the Pond, tip of the hat to the amazing Kimberly Haynes here. On Meditation we have a reflective arrangement that has that power of love built deep within the weave of the song; this would also make a sublime single from an abundant sublime collection of great pieces.

One constantly feels like they are moving through segments of time and tide with this album, and of course indeed we are thanks to this creative creation of Lissa Coffey, offerings like I AM, a song of removing obstacles from your path or the vast and incredibly powerful Brahman, a track illustrating everything, with a crafted mix of rap, funk, soul and a delicious Tabla.

The transcendent colours of pieces like The Secret are an utter delight to listen to; it’s like being transported to a picture perfect garden of much balance and happiness, this can also be found on compositions like Spark From Me, at this point it is really important to tip the hat to Vito Gregoli for his stunning work of electric guitars here.

There is a rich elevation of intensity and empowerment when we reach the classic rock opera composition of The Vision, another personal favourite of ours, the driving percussive beat and guitars stoke the rhythm of the piece, but the calming harbours of sublime vocals manifest a perfect lead into the following anthem entitled Devotion, a ballad of supreme quality and emotional resonance.

We are driving fast now into the deep regions of our story and musical sojourn of plenty, we can find peace and tranquillity here and also wonderfully soulful pieces like Field and Knower, or the rhythmic and almost reggae like composition entitled Rise Above the Guna.

The startling beauty of nature and music combined can be found in the vibrant creation of The Tree. This track gives us a truly funky vibe, an important message that a journey is drawing closer to its conclusion in this veritable land where the leaves of paradise lie.

As we move ever onward we come across Divine and Demonic, a heartfelt plea for us all to remain focused on all that is good, how to become fearless with a pure heart and dropping the baggage of ego and negativity, this is one of the most incredible presentations in a dualistic performance that performs both the light and the dark sides of life.

The penultimate offering OM TAT SAT is now upon us and creates an illustration of various types of humanities and faith, the lush mixture of major and minor chords here was sublime and the elevation of intent very impressive, as can be said about the concluding track of the album entitled Liberation, our journey has ended, but has it, or does it ever, a song of something we personally have been working hard on lately, removing and becoming free, by removing attachments. Here lies the perfect ending composition, one that will leave the listener with just one option, extending the forefinger of the dominant hand and pressing replay.

We must give a mention to the musicians who also appear on the album that we have not mentioned yet, Liyakat Ali, Ajay Prasanna, Visvambhar Seth, TJ Troy, Gregg Bissonette, Neelamjit Dhillon, Sheela Bringi, MB Gordy, and we hope we have not missed anyone else out.

Song Divine by Lissa Coffey & David Vito Gregoli is a fascinating album that is a must for anyone who likes good music, a great story and who is moved by fantastic musical performances.


Monet's Garden By Dean and Dudley Evenson

 


Monet's Garden

By

Dean and Dudley Evenson

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I sighed a sigh of blissful relief when I listened to Monet’s Garden, ah the sweet refrains of good old classic New Age music are not dead, but alive and thriving thanks to this amazing new release by Dean And Dudley Evenson. To start with pull up the picture of the album cover, press play, and simply enjoy the moment, it is quite beautiful.

My past came flooding back to me whilst listening to this album, the full and rich colours of nature cried out across the barren wastelands of popular music and eased my soul, a place of sanctuary was immediately found in the opening piece Water Lily Nymphs; a mystical flute and a gentle refrain from the harp, this will be a place I will never wish to leave.

One of my favourite pieces off the album is this next one entitled Wisteria Foot Bridge, the beginning is very Floyd and Crazy Diamond in its early stages, it was that added sense of mystery that hooked me in, one could easily see the bridge within my own meditations. The hovering multi-instrumentational nature of the piece was idyllic, and simply perfect in all that it had to offer; how clever was it to change flutes midway in this track, I cannot remember that being done before, and in doing so giving the track sublime depth.

Ah Golden Tones, this is a halcyon moment of great beauty, a chiming of a bowl, the far away flute, and the hovering instrumentational brilliance of this arrangement, makes this a veritable tapestry of many colours, one could almost make out the figure of Monet himself, standing just by the bridge perhaps, gaining inspiration for one of his many wondrous works of art.

There is a charming delicacy on the track Splendid Irises, which gives rise to a slight ethereal energy within its musical narrative, I felt a certain familiarity here with some of the artists I used to adore back in the early part of the century, perhaps the Golden Age of New Age music in Europe, with artists like Nigel Shaw, Llewellyn, Medwyn Goodall and Kevin Kendle, the latter created his own Garden based release. This for me brought the whole album in to a sharper focus, and the brightness of the colours of the album now glowed like an August sun.

I simply love leaning out on my balcony and listening to the pigeons and doves, those natural sounds fit so well with my environment, and also usher in this next piece by the duo called Water Garden. Dean and Dudley have a true symbiotic partnership, their flow of sublime oneness drifts in a wonderful meditative state within this track, the flute changes and so does the depths of compositional structure, taking us into a wonderful land of texture and tone.

One of my favourite birdsongs can be heard at the start of this next piece, the Lark, so charming, so warming, and so calming, and that statement is utterly perfect for this next piece called Spring Impressions. The lightness of this song is transcendent and tranquil, the flute and harp seem to manifest an early April landscape where peace can be found, and sanctuary gained.

The tale of a mystical and magical place is up next as we listen to Enchanted Garden Path. The chimes, flutes and hovering intensity of the piece give us a state of mystery and imagination to enjoy. The pauses, natural sounds and deliberately slow tempo manifest a perfect meditative offering, a composition where one could with ease, simply float on a bed of unbridled tone across this wonderful garden of Monet’s

The harp sets the scene perfectly here on the track Field of Flowers; this is a sun kissed opus of great beauty, and that is also what is so very special about this album, even if you placed Monet’s Garden to one side, through tracks like this, and in all honestly each and every composition, one could with ease meditate within their own chosen place of serene bliss.

I had listened to this song a few times before, so it was nice to once again hear Pond Reflections. I used to spend a lot of time in nature and near waterways when I lived in England, so now that I live in a land with precious little water they are even more special to me. Pond Reflections is just that, a cleverly created reflective moment of sublime new age music, one that will allow you to gaze into your very soul, and perhaps even beyond.

Cascading Willows is in the deeper labyrinths of the album and at the start I think I picked out the dulcet tones of a blackbird, a creature I haven’t heard for many years sadly. Here the harp and flute work a magic all of their own, and manifest energies of a sun drenched afternoon by the water, under the shade of a beautiful willow tree; the music is the master creator here, and paints a tableau of the slow but permanent state of nature’s free spirit.

I have several singing bowls in my music room, and this penultimate track makes me want to walk upstairs to play them, it is utterly idyllic, the tones of the added flute creates for me a perfect meditational offering.  On Play of Light, the shadows, the softness, the movement of shades of light, are all created by this quite breath taking last but one offering, a piece that for me highlights the transformative energies of light, and the quality of it, especially in Autumn.

So we arrive at the end of the album, our final gateway to the release, it is as if we are transported to a time free from form and the ravages of ages, and we can sit with the artist (Monet) on an Evening in Giverny, and just simply be, and of course how could there be a more perfect way to leave one of the most beautiful new age albums of the decade thus far.

Monet's Garden by Dean and Dudley Evenson is one of those rare albums that I will just put on at random times when my spirit needs it, and just drift in a state of uncomplicated bliss whilst doing so, oh how I would love to be at this location, perhaps one day, but for now, this experience can be gained vicariously through the genius of both Dean and Dudley Evenson, who, by creating Monet’s Garden, have manifested a soothing tranquillity to be found within us all and more. If any album deserves an to be an award winner, this one does with ease.


Monday, October 11, 2021

A Walk Through Brindavan By Devan Ekambaram

 


A Walk Through Brindavan

By

Devan Ekambaram

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

This latest offering from Devan Ekambaram is one of those songs that literally has it all, a sparkling and exciting world and global vibe, and a beautiful transition from contemporary instrumental into Jazz, and then back again. This is a wonderful example of the artist’s compositional skills, full and rich in textures and colour, smooth and melodic and bathed in a sun kissed musical narrative, and in doing so he has produced a simply radiant composition, here he also employs the masterful talents of Vijay Gopal, and Nel Bucktowar into the weave of this most creative of composition.

This work is a multi-instrumental arrangement that contains a flowing string section, woodwind and brass segments that literally slide off the scale of utter beauty, and a positive and happy refrain that makes, A Walk Through Brindavan by Devan Ekambaram one of those delicious Asian movie styled compositions, that is literally impossible to not hit repeat on, and I can feel and sense a really big hit here for the artist.


Friday, October 8, 2021

Evil Seduction By Richard Zelada

 


Evil Seduction

By

Richard Zelada

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

This brand new single from Richard Zelada is well timed for the Halloween market, and comes from his album Strange Times 2, but there is also something quite addictive about this offering that installs a desire to play it frequently, to explore the hidden labyrinths of the arrangement perhaps?

Zelada’s performance on keyboards is superbly layered, the care and attention to detail here is craft-fully manifested, and the slow and mysterious tempo is a pleasure to flow with, the female ethereal vocal is haunting and the steady onward movement created is akin to walking through a misty graveyard at the turn of midnight, I like Zelada’s style and I hope to hear more in the future, as for Evil Seduction, it gets a thumbs up for me, and a good chart placement must be on the horizon for this song.


Thursday, October 7, 2021

People Passing Through By The Song Gardeners

 


People Passing Through

By

The Song Gardeners

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The event I hoped for one day has now come to pass, and I’m listening to and writing a review of a Song Gardeners album, for a year I have been blessed with music from both Corrie Dunn and Mary Gospe and we mustn’t of course forget David Scheibner, now producer, and those ever so delicious singles from them have dominated the charts for months, now they all appear on one magnificent album called, People Passing Through.

The Song Gardeners are a rarity, a new age band with a message; some may mention other bands like 2002, but they, as was once said in the Wizard of Oz, are a horse of a different colour, and certainly much different in style. This rich vein of form has revealed numerous chart hits for the band, like the quite beautiful Harmony of Contrast, a song that highlights the unique quality of beauty within each of us.

Seven hits lay within the sheets of this album and a new one too, but more of that later, one of my favourites happens to be next and called Love Is the Magic of Change, a song that contains a reminder that under the ever watchful eyes of the universe, we are one and we always will be, the song itself is bathed with an almost jazzy chilled out texture. The sultry and sensitive vocals come from Corrie Dunn, while a wonderfully fluent bass line comes from Chris Day.

Gospe is back for this next offering entitled Altered State, this soulful composition has a simply lush tapestry of tone and harmony to it, an 80’s chilled groove floats within the musical narrative. A song about the blissful sanctuaries of meditation, a place I am all too well aware of and go to each night.

Saluting the half way marker is a song that is sublime, and in my view my personal favourite off the entire album, and called Love Flows. The chord changes and the use of minor and major structures create a superb reflective song, the style is akin to a very chilled mantra, but there are some really clever nuances within this song that makes it undeniable, examples are as such, the delicate flute of Gospe, the creative piano of Dunn, and the undeniable brilliance of David Scheibner on guitar; I personally found the energies of this song quite healing and deeply peaceful.

Reveal is our next song, it is an anthem of empowerment for women of the world over, here David Scheibner’s more acoustic guitar segments add an extra dimension to this most powerful of compositions, the song has a depth of intensity that should not be ignored, it is a call for us all to stop oppression, push forward gender harmony and as the song says:

“Empower the people with freedom

To rise above life’s adversities

Empower the people with courage

To tear down the walls of indignity”

So we now find ourselves at the most important stage of the album, the title track, and of course it is called People Passing Through, it features the vocal talents of Dunn with Gospe on backing vocals. This is probably the most inventive song on the album, there is a delicious 70’s feel mixed with an almost up to date urban groove here, and all with a message that is so important, living in the moment, after all it is all we will ever have.

The penultimate track is much appreciated and called Sabbe Satta Sukhi Hontu, this is a Pali Buddhist chant if I remember correctly, and translated means, may all things be well, or happy. This chant can be sung or even spoken, it brings great peace, cultivates feelings of love and compassion, and as both Chrissie and I are Buddhists, this creation is truly appreciated. The major and minor energies of this track are amazing; this has to be one of the most emotive yet uplifting arrangements of this I have heard, I bow with utter appreciation to Dunn for her stunning vocals on this track.

Well we have arrived at the last song off the album, and it is the much loved Warrior of Light, what a song this is for these times of utter chaos; lies and deception, 2020 brought some of the most ugly pictures of humanity to our screens, but as the song says we need to be warriors of light, and in doing so we must not get caught up in the tumult of anger and vitriol of those who wish to control us through fear and deception; a powerful song indeed to finish with and one that ends an album that we have all been waiting for with eager anticipation for some time.

People Passing Through by The Song Gardeners is everything it should be, a collection of their best works thus far and all in one wonderful place, each of the songs on this album has a depth, intent and passion all of their own and each has been created by the artists directly from the heart to yours, bathed with unconditional love and a positive intent. People Passing Through by The Song Gardeners is a ground breaking release, and one that the ever serious collectors of sublime songs should have in their collections at all costs, and filed under music that makes you think and reflect.


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Winds of Change By David J. Peña

 


Winds of Change

By

David J. Peña

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

In such a short space of time David J. Peña has become known as a colourful writer and composer of amazingly picturesque cinematic works that contain added instrumentation and full flowing passionate piano performances. I am delighted to therefore inform you that none of the above has changed, but with this new album Winds Of Change, business as they say, is just about to pick up.

Homecoming starts this most illustrious of journeys off with a fluency and a compositional structure like none before, with string segments that would grace any positive moment in a movie with ease; this is a grand start indeed, and one that is so easy to come back to over and again.

On Awakening we have a continuance of the last tracks energies, a similar tempo guides your way, and manifests a wonderful bright and optimistic day ahead, the added percussion and driving beat are tempered by an amazingly beautiful piano performance by the artist.

The mood of our next offering is so redolent of the subject matter; one could have easily just rolled up, tossed the coat and hat on the rack, and settled down with a coffee in a big old recliner, as The Arrival brings us a blissfully warm and all-encompassing feeling of kindness and comfort; the melody line is creative, and contains an elevated sense of wellbeing within its structures.

Now for something a little moody and reflective, I give you a moment of a thoughtful repose within the offering entitled Remember When. The minor chords and structures are so wonderfully composed and cleverly thought-out, here is a piece that raises the emotions, the memories and those sun kissed segments of time that you thought would never end, but did; an absolutely brilliant track indeed.

The midday point brings a slice of utter mastery. Many of you know I love to use natural sounds especially storms in my own music, and when an artist like David J. Peña does it with such style and panache, it gives me a big old smile of inner happiness, it just so happens that this, our beloved title track, is without doubt the best composition from the album, and in my view maybe Peña’s best ever arrangement so far, it is scenic, moody, and powerful from a depth of sadness and memory. Winds of Change is a classic; it has everything, a midway percussive beat and a string section that just makes the whole piece so emotive and emotionally sublime.

The gentle start to this next piece gives us a thoughtful and also hopeful repose; the track itself is called Someday. This is actually a clever piece, please note the build, progression and elevation within this arrangement, it is outstanding, and could be used as a fine of example of how to do so, with both artistic grace and utter quality.

Another favourite of mine was this one entitled Windy Shadows. The title is evocative on its own, but Peña’s performance is so creative and artistic, that one could easily be watching the shadows of a late autumn afternoon dance with the fading sunlight of a November afternoon. David J. Peña’s creative muse was certainly in full activation mode within this piece.

Willow can be found within the deeper labyrinths of the album, it can be found in a small corner of the castle of creativity marked “Never forget me”. This is a wonderfully passionate offering that literally makes the hairs stand up on your arm as it plays; it also has a delicate quality, almost pristine in its texture.

Wise Men’s Journey is our penultimate composition, it is actually a really mood filled opus of mystery and of moving onward, in a voyage perhaps one did not expect to take. The softer segments manifest a deep colour of potential ahead, and the piano of the artist weaves a tale of things unknown and yet to pass; another masterful performance created by David J. Peña.

Well we are here, our musical boat of tone and tempo has docked, but before you go, we have one last gift for you, and it is called Take Flight, this is indeed a nice way to leave the album and a thoughtful one too from the artist. Peña’s touch on the piano is simply sublime and this one is bathed with feelings of hope and happiness, its energetic musical narrative is simply the perfect way to leave an outstanding album

Winds of Change by David J. Peña in my view is the artist’s best work by far, it has everything you want from an album, a story, a cinematic feel, a sense of hope, reflection and thoughtfulness, and is all wrapped up in one of the most passionate performances you could ever wish to hear from a musician, this is piano with instrumentation at its very best, and one can see big things on the charts for this brand new and sparkling release.


Monday, October 4, 2021

Mwen Se Ayiti By Natalie Jean

 


Mwen Se Ayiti

By

Natalie Jean

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Natalie Jean has been a consistent releaser of really good vocal music for some years now, so it comes as no surprise to feel the energy of her latest single Mwen Se Ayiti. She is one of the most vibrant and talented artistes of her day, and her ability and range are incredibly impressive.

Most know Natalie Jean for her passionate and powerful vocals; however on this brand new offering she balances that perfectly with a more sensitive textured voice, the result of which is a beautifully sung composition, one that tales the tale of the resilience of the Haitian people.

Many will enjoy the smooth yet utterly confident performance, which should no doubt raise its presence in the higher echelons of the charts with ease; this is Natalie Jean at her undeniable best.



Friday, October 1, 2021

The Grand Piano Spa: Legacy By Darlene Koldenhoven

 


The Grand Piano Spa: Legacy

By

Darlene Koldenhoven

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Darlene Koldenhoven is one of those rare artists that when you hear of a new album is on the way, your excitement gets peaked and your mind eagerly awaits what you just know is going to be utter perfection, and thus she has done it again with her latest release, The Grand Piano Spa: Legacy.

Her style of a solo piano performance is one that is so endearing to the wider audience, her performances are always beautifully textured and warm in presentation, much like the opener from the new album entitled Radiance, the melody line from this song is a guaranteed hook, but one bathed in happiness and a tune you will replay in your mind all day long.

We are lucky enough to have 10 pristine compositions on an album that will bring us a hefty slice of peace and tranquillity, like another one of my personal favourites, the perfect piano bar piece in Lucidity, or the smooth musical tapestry of Love Eternal, whatever your mood, you will find something here.

There is even a mysterious moment of magic hidden deep in the album, entitled Black Swan. I used to live in a village where one of these beautiful creatures lived among the usual white variety, but listen carefully here, Koldenhoven doesn’t just create wonderful fluency on piano, she actually manifests the swans smooth and serene movements upon a still mirrored pool, this is simply stunning and deeply moving as well.

There can be no doubt that an album of this quality would be ideal for a spa location, the tranquil energy that flows from the final piece entitled Ancient Forest would be enough alone to birth a special moment of peace for you, and could well be the soundtrack for your entire day of paradise, it is also a piece that has an anthem like feel in its construction, and a classy conclusion to an album of such style and panache.

The Grand Piano Spa: Legacy by Darlene Koldenhoven is a beautifully elegant new solo piano based album, its confidence pours over the body, and its flamboyance drizzles unbridled joy and pleasure over the senses, this is an album that has a consistent smoothness to its production, and a performance, which will leave the listener, chilled, relaxed and floating on a sea of utter bliss.


Thursday, September 30, 2021

Barcelona Summer By Julia Thomsen and Tre

 


Barcelona Summer

By

Julia Thomsen and Tre

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The combination of piano and soft synth pads is something I am all to used to with my musician’s hat on, and this is a delicious example of such beauty, Barcelona Summer is a moment of utter magic, it has such a soft feel to its compositional structure, one that would float on a river of peace with consummate ease.

Here is a piece of music that exemplifies an example of truly good relaxing music, one that portrays a scene to calm and brings peace to the senses; containing pertinent natural sounds and soft strings, this has to be a total winner of a single in my book and hopefully yours to.


The Winding Way By Peter Sterling

 


The Winding Way

By

Peter Sterling

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There is nothing quite like the voyage of self-discovery, something a lot of us have had to do, and still do during this pandemic. What came out of it for me was a positive reflection on a multitude of fronts, for Peter Sterling he began to simply go with life’s flow, and enjoy each segment as it came, The Winding Way is part of that sojourn for the artist.

The opening piece to this new album says it all, a meandering roaming composition, Beauty Abounds is exactly that, a song that whistles to itself down the misty foot paths of life’s rich tapestry.

The Winding Way is an 11 track album that takes you into a heavenly vibe and leaves you there to simply float safely, a fine example of that is the ethereal and angelic opus of Calling Angels, a soft and calming composition that manifests a realm of simple, but utter tranquillity.

There are many delights along this winding way; the light-hearted reverie of Rose Petal Tea, with an added string section makes this arrangement for me very special, and reflective of hazy summer days of the past, or The Noble Night, a delicate almost pristine offering with an added flute that drifts across the borderlands of time, with an almost regal presence.

The multi-instrumental nature of this album is a pleasure to take in and allow control over the senses too, this has to be one of the calmest and deeply serene albums I have heard this year. Listen to Hope for Tomorrow or the concluding track A Love that Lasts to back up my aforementioned statement.

I must give a quick shout out also to G-Dov Gertzweig who plays the violin, Richard Hardy the silver and bamboo flutes and finally Hans Christian on Cello; they all contributed to the album to bring about this wonderful sense of harmony.

The Winding Way by Peter Sterling in my view is the artist’s best work thus far, it is easily his most ambient construct, but also Sterling must be proud of this musical contemplation, it does indeed reflect the serene tranquillity that some of us have found through this turbulent time, and as such The Winding Way is a real must for those who seek to just live in the now, and enjoy the simplicity of each and every moment, a thoroughly recommended album indeed. 


Wednesday, September 29, 2021

myndstream Collection Volume 1 By Various Artists

 


myndstream Collection Volume 1

By

Various Artists

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Various artist albums are a growing concern these days, yes we seem them all the while in the pop industry, but rarely until this year have I seen so many in the contemporary instrumental genre. However if there was one label you would be more than happy to receive one from, then it would be a myndstream collection, and in this case volume one, which of course bodes well for future releases.

We have a stylish and soothing collection of 13 compositions that literally fall from the tree of abundance to enjoy, like the first opus Blue Steel, I have a soft spot for this style of performance and Daniel Lanois provides the listener with an excellent starting point indeed, but from where I hear you ask, well each and every artist on this creation of crafted cleverness were posed a question, that question “What does mindfulness sound like?”

Lanois creates something special with the steel guitar which is an almost guilty pleasure, then one of my personal favourite tracks lulls me further down the line of unadulterated bliss, with a track entitled Parting of the Ways by the ever so talented Lisa Bella Donna, a quality ambient track that you just never wish to leave.

Mindfulness is special to me, after all the now is all we will ever have, tracks like Whispers of Hope, a fine piano performance by Jordan Rudess roots me to the moment with ease, and crafted arrangements like The Sunflower Ghost, by non-other than a king of prog rock, mister Rick Wakeman, manifest something so stilling and serene, that is far from the court of King Arthur, but a composition that allows us to float down a never ending river of the peace, like the Lady of Shallot.

Composer extraordinaire Michael Whalen creates a moment of great beauty as well with his quite soothing musical narrative entitled Always Returning, a delicate touch on the keys and embracing the lighter side of a synth heaven with such consummate ease.

There are more great tracks on the album too, these include Song of the Firefly Harmonium by Mark Isham, Realize by Gustavo Santaolalla, Sierra Dreamscape by Kathryn Bostic, Garish by Michael Brook, and then there were no words... by David Torn, Circles by Marcelo Zarvos and Ambient 2 by Cliff Martinez.

myndstream Collection Volume 1 by the Various Artists have all quite brilliantly answered the question posed, and by buying this wonderfully fluent and peace filled album, you will find that the answer is a meditative ambient dimension of music, that will relax and de-stress you with such a tender touch, it may be a well-worn phrase to say, that this is an album that you must have in your collection, but it actually is, this is a prime example of truly excellent relaxing music that helps you be calm in both mid and body, and in this day and age, that can’t be a bad thing at all can it?


Monday, September 27, 2021

A New Day By Oscar Pascasio

 


A New Day

By

Oscar Pascasio

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Oscar Pascasio has become known for his colourful, yet sensitive performances across the globe and here on this charming new album entitled, A New Day, he gifts us 10 tracks that will ease the mind and make the day seem that much softer.

The journey to this most charming musical narrative starts with a dance; yes Mermaids Waltz is a sublime and happy beginning, played with a lightness of touch and a sensitivity of thought and mind.

There is much to enjoy on this album, for example the soft but emotive tones of I Miss You, a track and presentation that almost cries on your shoulder, a reflective performance indeed by the artist.

I love my personal Solitude, and here on that very track Pascasio manifests the perfect halcyon moment of solitary bliss, when the only demands that are upon you, is to just enjoy the moment. A track played with such calmness and peace, without doubt one of my favourite offerings from the album.

There are twists and turns on this release that are fascinating, all manner of thoughts, and emotions are catered for here, like the lightness of You Make Me Smile, a track that does exactly what it says on the can, or our last composition entitled Rest, a wonderfully soothing musical narrative, one that without a mere thought will lull the listener into a calming and peace filled reverie.

A New Day by Oscar Pascasio in my view is the best work thus far by the artist; the gentle and tender performances on all 10 pieces are wonderfully warm and blissfully soothing, there are many stand out offerings from the album, but taken overall each and every composition creates a sense of tranquillity and serenity, this is a fine quality for any musician to attain, and as such A New Day by Oscar Pascasio should become a firm favourite with his fans, and all those who adore sublime moments of beautiful solo piano.


Thursday, September 23, 2021

When We Were Free By Kluane Takhini

 


When We Were Free

By

Kluane Takhini

Written by

Chrissie Sheppard

 

I must admit I was pleasantly surprised when I first listened to the latest single from Kluane Takhini entitled When We Were Free, which features Tony Mac on vocals. Kluane says “This is a song of human oppression that has existed in our world since the beginning of time and unfortunately continues to exist to this very day. It is performed in a classic R&B/Soul style to remind us all of simpler times.”

The vocals of Tony Mac really do bring this piece to life, giving it that real soulful feeling, but the instrumentation is something wonderful too, from the guitars to strings and everything in between, this is a great release with a powerful message to the world, a piece with a very commercial feel to it too, that leaves you asking one question, What Do You Want From Me?

Kluane Takhini should be very proud of this latest release, and I am sure this will be a big hit for the artist, so I suggest you go ahead and get a copy of it for yourself now too!