Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Polarized By Samer Fanek

 


Polarized

By

Samer Fanek

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Pianist Samer Fanek has been on my radar ever since the release of his 2016 album Wishful Thinking. The artist is back once more and with another full flowing collection of fine musical compositions this time entitled Polarized.

The energy created by the opening piece is fascinating, the piece entitled Tides is a masterful expression and a great example of build and progression within a track, the soft and sensitive piano is later joined by a drum beat and a powerful electric guitar that raises the intensity of the offering.

There is a soft mood on the next track that is beautifully illustrated, it is entitled Do You Remember? Here Fanek manifests something memory filled that is at times both emotive and reflective in its musical narrative.

I found something quite mood filled in the next piece called, and quite aptly, Broken Dreams. I had a few nightmares a couple of nights back and this composition would have been a good soundtrack to that event. There is a darkness here that is cleverly performed and certain musical nuances that are really well built into the weave of this fascinating offering.

Polarized is an album that contains so much, it has that inspirational flavour that only a good piano with instrumentational album can bring, take this next piece as an example of that statement entitled Life Can Be Beautiful, the soothing and hovering symphonic gestures here are simply delightful.

There was something very fresh and crisp about this next song called Starting Over, it was the musical equivalent of pulling back the curtains on a new spring morning. The performance here was a treasure trove of happiness and possibilities of change, and certainly a composition that raised my mood and gave a new energy to the day.

At the mid-way juncture we come across a piece that had a gentle flow to its construction, much in the way that David Lanz has done to this day, those soothing musical nuances that are so light and inspiring, but delicate and quite picturesque in performance structure are blissful, ones I feel that would nicely illustrate the piece called Some Days Are Cloudy.

I have been watching a few of these this autumn, as we listen to the offering Raindrop. I adore Samer Fanek’s performance here on this short form arrangement; there is a wonderful layer of sensitivity within the performance, one that created a beautiful warm feeling whilst listening to it.

There can be no doubt that Fanek has manifested an album here that touches the very soul of the listener, like the stunning presentation on the piece Dearest of All. The smooth tones and symphonic movements here manifested something truly film score in arrangement.

The artist has clearly manifested some amazing moments on this album that a listener seeking truly classy music will adore, the structure of Dearest of All is another good example of a romantic piece that is created with such pride and tenderness that it is a pleasure to allow it to wash over you, the crescendos mix with sensitive passages shows true craft and a vast depth of professionalism.

As we now move into the deeper waters of this release we come across a beautifully fluent opus entitled Life Goes On. The multi-instrumental nature of this song creates extra layers of texture to enjoy; the strings here are particularly effective at adding mood and emotion.

One of my personal favourites was Just Like the Wind, a piece released last year as a single, and I was so pleased to see this make this fine collection of songs. This composition has a crafted flow to its creation, one that shows essences of a reflective moment, and attached to its floating melody are several passing memories; a seriously masterful arrangement indeed, and one that I will forever love playing.

The final piece in this wonderful musical jigsaw comes courtesy of the track Wishful Thinking (Piano Solo). You may recognise this one, as it was originally on the album of the same name back in 2016, where my journey with Samer began, but now he has recreated it as a solo piano composition, which is beautiful to listen to.

I am very pleased to see the continual rise of excellence in Fanek’s performances and playing style, each time I listen to a composition from the artist, one can see the growth and development happening right before your eyes. Polarized is a landmark album, it’s a picturesque pastiche of brilliance that is simply undeniable and very easy to recommend.


Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Clones By Claudio Casanueva

 


Clones

By

Claudio Casanueva

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The ambience of Clones by Claudio Casanueva has a clever arrangement contained within its construct, it holds the listeners attention and captivates the mind with lush and vast soundscapes. The electronic nature of this huge near on twenty minute opus is complex and incredibly fascinating; it is music for a movie with ease.

The crafted nuances within this piece are worth a real mention, Casanueva holds the attention with moments of light and dark, and at all times this hovering intensity changes and morphs into a wonderful outer worldly manifestation. If you are an ambient music fan like me, you will love Clones by Claudio Casanueva.


Friday, November 27, 2020

Season of Peace By Cornell Kinderknecht

 


Season of Peace

By

Cornell Kinderknecht

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

A Christmas flute based album is a rare thing, so when I noted that the release Season Of Peace had landed upon my desk for review I was over joyed, Cornell Kinderknecht has a rare, but wonderful talent for making the flute sing to the heart, and on this Christmas collection, he once again does just that.

The arrangement of We Three Kings is something to treasure, the pristine qualities of this track alone are so redolent of this time of year, and one that paints a perfect picture in the mind’s eye, the combination of piano and flute work symbiotically here to bring great musical joy.

A total classic is up next as we explore the artist’s version of The First Noel, the charming energy created here is quite blissful, and the piano explores a strategy of arrangements that is so appealing, so much so, that it was one of my personal favourites off the album.

There was a beautiful intensity about the mid-way piece entitled Huron Carol, Kinderknecht allows his flute to flutter through the forests and across the snow filled landscapes with this utterly transcendent composition, one that also cleverly retains a slight Celtic influence within as well.

We now move to an incredibly well known carol, and one that you can no doubt sing along with too, of course I am referring to O Holy Night; the lightness and cheer filled reverie here is palpable and deeply enjoyable too.

Our penultimate offering is the Coventry Carol; Kinderknecht’s flute adds an almost haunting quality to the composition, and now you have indeed arrived at my personal favourite off the album. For me the artist has crossed three major genres here, and succeeded in bringing us a quality arrangement of a classic, with Native flute, a slight Celtic influence, and even a little renascence too, all in the mix of a fabulous offering.

The last quality presentation is the artists own piece entitled Winter Blue, now as a keyboardist myself I adore the electronic piano, it is so emotive, so naturally, when you add the flute into the mix, the result is a masterful weave of emotional genius.

Season of Peace by Cornell Kinderknecht is a very classy multi-instrumental album that has been manifested into reality from an artist who clearly is in touch with his winter musical muse. The flute is crisp and clear and its partnership with the keyboards adds a beautiful balance to the whole project, one that is refreshing and accessible to all.


Words By Oscar Pascasio

 


Words

By

Oscar Pascasio

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The soft refrains from this new single by Oscar Pascasio are so beautiful to bathe in, the offering is simply called Words, and it is a track flowing in abundance with emotional notes and flavours.

Pascasio has a wonderful talent for creating colourful landscapes of solo piano, but here he has taken that even further and manifested one of the most heartfelt pieces I can ever remember him producing, a thoroughly stunning emotive composition, and one totally recommended.


Memories By Oscar Pascasio

 


Memories

By

Oscar Pascasio

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Oscar Pascasio is an artist of who always seems to manifest a beautiful flow and fluency with each composition he creates. Memories, a latest single release from the artist, has a wonderfully lyrical sense of time passed contained within, along with a sense of love and happiness gained along the way; the performance here is indeed utterly blissful.

I must admit I have listened to this offering three times in a row now, and I still want more, now that is a fine example of a good single, the melody and soothing musical narrative here is the winner for me.


Faith By Oscar Pascasio

 


Faith

By

Oscar Pascasio

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Something we all need now is a little bit of Faith, things will get better and perhaps Oscar Pascasio has created the soundtrack to the expectant event. The lightness of touch on this piece is palpable and beautiful to flow with; Pascasio has created a sun kissed reverie here to thoroughly enjoy each and every moment with.

The delicacy of performance shows the classy professionalism by the artist, one that manifests a single that has one word written into the weave of the song, hope.


Thursday, November 26, 2020

The Christmas Piano By Holly Jones

 


The Christmas Piano

By

Holly Jones

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Due to the vast amount of Christmas and holiday albums released every year, I have developed a technique, and a view point of where to look from with regard to any reviews I undertake for an artist, I look for originality of performance, something fresh to excite me, and I would say I found that with ease on the new holiday seasonal album, The Christmas Piano by the chart topping and award winning pianist Holly Jones.

The beginning to her collection was one of the most ambient and delightfully thought out compositions I have heard during this season for quite some time, as she brought me a moment of reverie within the realms of I Wonder As I Wander, this is one of those tracks you could play at any time of the year, and still swoon with delight at its vibe.

O Come All Ye Faithful, a true Christmas classic to many, and Jones delivers a fresh tempo, one that flows but still retaining that sense of ambience and mystery within its compositional structure.

When we arrive at probably the most played, performed and well known Christmas song ever in Silent Night, I was very eager to see the outcome, I was therefore extremely pleased to see that even this classic was held with a tenderness in the dimensions of a peace filled pathway of a musical narrative, one that expressed so much through the gentle performance of Holly Jones.

I had just written a piece about an acoustic guitar version of this composition a few moments ago in Still, Still, Still. Here Jones has created a clever arrangement, one that retains its sense of calm ambience, but adds an uplifting energy into the proceedings.

We now slide down the icy embankment of the second half of the album and into the loving arms of a really old song entitled What Child Is This (Green Sleeves). Jones’s performance here was sublime in creating a whole new mood, one could float with this with ease, or should I say skate with joy, what a beautiful version indeed, and I think I can also award her a medal for the best arrangement of this favourite this winter.

Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming takes us into the deep snowfalls of the release and here Jones really excels, her presentation is so pristine and soothing it is a real pleasure to listen to it, there is a tranquillity of style here that is not just ambient, but also incredibly magical in the musical space it unfurls.

Our penultimate offering is also an incredibly well loved Christmas classic in Away In A Manger, while the theme within its structure is an almost dance like sway, Jones with her beautifully created nuance’s, not only holds dear to tradition, she actually mixes a hint of serenity into the weave as well, a truly crafted and clever performance here indeed.

We now arrive at the last doorway on this eight piece album, and Jones finishes with a very well-remembered composition entitled O Holy Night, again what is an uplifting song, is given a calming energy to its construction, but the elevation of happiness and excitement is still there, deep within the very classy musical narrative.

The Christmas Piano by Holly Jones is what every household the world over should have playing during their Christmas dinners, she brings such a soothing feel to the proceedings on each and every track, and the calmness of performance here is simply, sublimely beautiful, enough to make the event go with a warm and kindly energy. The Christmas Piano may have familiar tracks you have already heard, but this offering by Jones will bring a whole new dynamic into your musical lives, one thoroughly recommended by me.


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Light and Darkness By Claudio Casanueva

 


Light and Darkness

By

Claudio Casanueva

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Claudio Casanueva  is flowing into a true purple patch of compositional creation lately, his flow and structures are simply sublime to listen to, his latest manifestation is entitled Light And Darkness and this classy new single has that energy about its presentation.

This 12 minute plus opus has all the hallmarks of a classic new age composition, mixed with a fluent and relevant electronic base added to the mix, one that picks up the composition, weaves with the spoken audio, which all leads to an outcome that is a truly amazing final conclusion to a well-crafted release.




Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Devotion By Dulce Joya

 


Devotion

By

Dulce Joya

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The journey into the works of a new artist came upon me in 2017 when I sojourned with the fluent and passionate refrains of Dulce Joya on her debut release Reality of Dreams, now the artist is back with a truly magnificent new album entitled Devotion and what a splendid album it is indeed.

From the very opening piece Joya grabs you by the musical collar and never lets you go, the powerful but utterly impressive Passione Nocturnale starts the proceedings and is in my view one of the best solo piano pieces and performances I have heard for many years, fast paced and filled with a sense of urgency, but so beautifully played.

That aforementioned style is matched so colourfully with one of my personal favourites in the heart felt and deeply moving opus of Yes It is You. The dance with major and minor here was emotive and quite reflective, and mixed the combinations of New Age Piano and a more commercial style incredibly well.

An artist like Dulce Joya has the ability to play light and dark, sunshine and shadow and that can be felt on classy pieces like Forgotten Worlds, her performance here would easily grasp a standing ovation with ease. The more sensitive textures can be also found on tracks like the mood filled opus of My Untamed Soul in Yours, it is indeed an album with something for everyone’s taste.

This is really one of those solo piano journeys you never want to end, the presentations from the artist are all full flowing, and filled with passionate streaming rivers of emotion that Joya is clearly in touch with, like the crafted nuances of From Ancient Time We Meet Again, or the climatic ending composition Mistery Among Candles, an offering that could easily be part of a film soundtrack.

Dulce Joya in my view has created her best work so far with Devotion, and in doing so has raised the bar of professionalism more than just a single notch of the ladder, this in my opinion is the apex of performance and presentation in what is an overcrowded genre of solo piano, but Devotion a classy release of ten quality tracks, is not only an album that stands out from the crowd, it is one that screams and demands to be listened to, and has to be one of the best solo piano albums of the last decade with ease.


Acoustic Christmas By Camille Nelson

 


Acoustic Christmas

By

Camille Nelson

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

How very grateful I am for the release of this album entitled Acoustic Christmas by Camille Nelson, as the host of the Acoustica show on One World Music Radio I was struggling to find quality acoustic work for my Christmas show, and then this gem comes along!

I now have so much to choose from, the guitar refrains of the uplifting favourite O Come, All Ye Faithful just fill me with a lightness of spirit, the crisp and clear notes serve as a beautiful beginning to the album.

To follow this up with the exciting and happy tones of one of my personal favourites Joy to The World was a clever move; it continued the theme of happiness and goodwill, something we all need right now more than ever.

I believe that this album has come at a perfect time for the planet, we need to have our energies uplifted from the constant negativity that surrounds us, and it’s tracks like Little Drummer Boy that will help; once more the performance is sublime by Nelson, one that also features the classy talents of Yahosh Bonner on vocals, creating a real folk styled ethic into the mix.

Wexford Carol is another cultural classic that needs not to be forgotten, and a mood filled performance here by the artist can be found, there is a beautiful smooth texture to this arrangement that is undeniably memorable and perhaps even film score standard.

As we reach the mid-way juncture of the album we come across a superb track featuring KORA entitled Still, Still, Still. The vocals here are some of the finest you will hear in this genre and the calmness that flows from the recording is blissful.

Once in David's Royal City is a very well-known Carol, I certainly remember it from my childhood, as do millions of others no doubt too. Here you have a charming musical narrative drawn by the artist that seems to paint a picture of this time of year with every note played, and every string plucked.

Another one of my personal favourites was More Holiness Give Me feat. Kimberly Knighton & Britney Holman, only the acoustic guitar can give a feeling to the composition like this, and the vocals were another level of harmonic bliss to bathe within.

Infant Holy, Infant Lowly continues the soft and gentle tones of the album, and brings us short but pleasing moment of instrumental pleasure. The tempo of this track is also something to greatly enjoy as is the arrangement by Nelson, one that adds a layer of peace into the weave.

Our penultimate offering is O Holy Night feat. Marj Desius, a multi-lingual offering that offers not only uniqueness, but a beautiful song to just simply enjoy, and then to end the album in the best way possible with a Christmas standard that just about everyone will recognise in Silent Night, is a stroke of acoustic genius.

Acoustic Christmas by Camille Nelson is one of the most soothing musical collections of classic Christmas tracks out this year, and released at a perfect time when so much confusion, fear and suffering is upon the world, the very acoustic nature of stripping pieces down bare, then recreating utter seasonal classics in a fresh, exciting, but calming and uplifting way, is not only a thoughtful thing to give to the world, but a musical panacea that may well ease the passage to peace.


Thursday, November 19, 2020

Lonely Boy By Daniel Cook

 


Lonely Boy

By

Daniel Cook

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There is something really engaging about this new single from Daniel Cook; the title Lonely Boy may well speak for many of us, so listen carefully to the lyrics, the narrative is clever and poignant, sing it loud and sing it proud.

This acoustic guitar vocal based offering has a truly organic appeal; this is real music, a song from the heart, to the heart, with a few crafted chord changes to boot as well, adding a little extra flavour to the preceding’s.

This one will resonate with many people, at times like Dylan, but more emotive, Daniel Cook with Lonely Boy hits the spot with ease with the release of this new offering.



Tuesday, November 17, 2020

This Moment By Melany Thompson

 


This Moment

By

Melany Thompson

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Melany Thompson has found her pot of emotive gold with this reflective new single entitled This Moment; her construction of this solo piano offering is pure quality, both moody, yet with a slight ethic of hope built into the weave. I have listened to this several times now, and there is something deep in here that keeps pulling me back.

This Moment by Melany Thompson is a crafted slice of piano that has been manifested through a heart that desperately wants to touch the soul of each and every listener that willingly offers up their time to do so, as I do hope you will too, and if you do, then I hope you feel like me as well, and feel like you have been touched by something truly special.



Monday, November 16, 2020

Christmas Night By Rick Sparks

 


Christmas Night

By

Rick Sparks

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There is something quite magical about the performance style of Rick Sparks, his compositions literally sparkle like the late winter sun across a lake of plenty, and here the artist has once more created something breathtakingly beautiful for us to enjoy.

Christmas Night is the proud title track that opens up this sojourn for us, with a wonderland of beauty and the sparkling refrains and textures, ones that are the musical equivalent of watching light snow flakes drop from the sky late, late, on Christmas Eve.

Christ Is Born is the ethereal follow up piece, the softness of the pads and keyboards manifest something that is as smooth, yet as deep as the darkest night sky in its passion, whilst The First Noel flows like a never ending spring on a mountain side; the flute sounds are truly special at manifesting a pristine quality to the proceedings.

Hark the Herald Angels Sing is a piece that is known by many throughout the years, but this harmonic and angelic rendition is utterly transcendent in its textures and consistencies.

I have always felt that there is something quite grand about this piece, Sparks has taken that and raised the bar even further, and one can then add the brilliance of the piano line on In the Bleak Midwinter, a song that raises the memories and perhaps even a tear in the eye, and all done so very respectfully by the artist.

As we slide down the snow tipped peaks and into the second half of the album, we come across one of the stars off the release in the glistening and shimmering arrangement of What Child Is This, if ever Sparks could release a piece as a soundtrack then this is it, this is without doubt a wonderful performance.

Rick Sparks is indeed a painter of tone, one who creates great masterpieces through the medium of sound, and as an example, you will find all of that and more in these next few pieces. Infant Holy, Infant Lowly, the iridescent offering is a classy moment of keyboards that are so redolent of this time of year, and its majesty if flawlessly followed by the beauty of Once In Royal David's City, one has to mention the ethereal and angelic styled vocalisations here, this is enough to give you the chills as listening to it will flood you with so many loving memories of Christmas.

The penultimate offering is probably one of the most well-known arrangements of all time in Silent Night, I keep hearing new versions of this and others, but Sparks has hit the proverbial nail on the head with this one, and the symbiotic flute with the symphonic string sections creates a colourful musical narrative that is truly heart felt.

Nativity ends our Christmas journey and is also probably the most ambient piece off the release, I personally found something quite moving here, much in the same way as when you get that emotional buzz from a really good soundtrack, the choral energies are strong here also, which makes this piece simply the perfect conclusion to the album, even the string sections hit my emotive body and reminded me at times of Vaughn Williams.

Christmas Night by Rick Sparks is a masterpiece of beauty; layered textures of tone and sound that could have easily been created by the cosmos itself. Sparks has birthed into being one of the most iridescent collections of classic holiday seasonal music you will have ever heard, he has stamped his musical signature on it, and as such offered us the perfect restful and serene seasonal assortment you ever likely to find.


Christmas Meditations By Gary Schmidt

 


Christmas Meditations

By

Gary Schmidt

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There is something scene setting about this latest creation from Gary Schmidt, one of the finest cross performers on piano in the new age and classical genres. Schmidt’s desire here is to create a place of peace and serenity for us, in this current oasis of chaos.

Christmas, and the memory palace of such winter festivities, usually springs forth beautiful family reflections for us to bathe in, like the bright and classic Carol of the Bells, or probably one of the most well-known pieces of all time Silent Night, both are given a makeover here, and a fresh energy can be enjoyed from both compositions.

There has never been a better time to go within and reflect on all that has gone by this year, and Schmidt’s arrangements are a wonderful vehicle with which to do so, like the very uplifting O Little Town of Bethlehem (with "Sheep May Safely Graze,” J.S. Bach) or a fan favourite in I Saw Three Ships, the latter I found particularly effective, as I live on the coast.

Meditation is a beautiful thing, but some get confused as to what it means or does, as a teacher of different styles and types of meditation, I would say focus on the moment and enjoy the reverie from it, I will give an example, I live in a very warm climate, so Christmas time here is very sunny and sometimes hot, I was just playing this album whilst gardening, and found the following four pieces quite inspirational.

Appropriately Lo How a Rose, a soothing musical narrative with such a charming aged signature to its construction, Ave Maria versions 1&2, how can one, regardless of what they’re doing, not be moved by this classic piece? Then into the arms of Angels We Have Heard, a happy manifestation of joy and seasonal bliss, and lastly as I once more entered my home, It's the Most Wonderful Time. Once more Schmidt creates such a wonderful arrangement, one that exudes a smile from every note played.

Why Schmidt has done so well here is because he has tapped into specific pieces that all have a different, but meaningful resonances with each of us for some reason or another, and made them all so open and accessible, like In the Bleak Midwinter (with "Jesu, Joy," J.S. Bach), this is a clever rendition and one really appreciated.

Do You Hear What I Hear is a sparkling reverie that contains a wonderful array of notes that hold a childlike energy within its construction. Then he takes us on a musical moment that is filled with the essence of the dance on Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella (with "Gigue," G. Telemann), a track that has so much passion and joy.

Our penultimate offering is the memory filled opus of Little Drummer Boy, I must commend Schmidt here, I have often appreciated this piece for its major minor emotional touches, here the artist has truly excelled into emphasising that and then some, and into a composition that must be close to being in my view the best version of this song I have heard for decades.

The final piece is a hope we all have, especially with the chaos the world is currently in, and entitled I'll be Home for Christmas. A musical hope here, to finish off a truly grand album, one that manifests happiness, joyful memories, and the one thing we all need right now a little balance a little optimism, and a world in which our wishes can come true again.

Christmas Meditations by Gary Schmidt is a glorious album, I know you may have heard this before but it’s true, here is an album that takes a fresh look at the classics you all know, and ends up manifesting a collection of some of the most empowering arrangements you will have heard for quite some time, Christmas Meditations by Gary Schmidt is certainly something for your musical Christmas stocking, without a shadow of a doubt, and if you are a pianist yourself, you may also like to get a copy of the  companion music book with all the scores in it, it’s available on Amazon.


Thursday, November 12, 2020

Concerti By Dario Pagano

 


Concerti

By

Dario Pagano

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I must say it made a refreshing change for me to review a work of Classical style within the realm now known to me as Concerti by Dario Pagano, for Clarinet, Oboe and Orchestra.

From the very first track we are treated to a superior production and a charming musical narrative that had an almost regal sense of energy about its construction, in the track Concerto Per Clarinetto (Mov.1 Andante). The clarinet worked with such a symbiosis on this piece of just over 10 minutes.

Concerto Per Clarinetto (Mov.2 Largo) was created in such a superb flow and fluency, that it drifts with beauty across the ever willing mind. This is one of my favourite pieces; the expectancy and grandness of the moment are all achieved with such clarity on this opus.

The midway point is reached with the charming musical narrative that is Concerto Per Clarinetto (Mov.3 Allegro). The clarinet here is almost transcendent, and empowers the symphonic gestures of the classical energies of the arrangement.

We now move to the second part of the album, the movement and structure of Concerto Per Oboe, Arpa (Mov.1 Allegro) is something to enjoy as is the mysterious and almost mournful performance of Concerto Per Oboe, Arpa (Mov.2 Adagio). Pagano has created something magical here and its reflective nuances are a pleasure to swim within.

The project is concluded with the piece Concerto Per Oboe, Arpa (Mov.3 Vivace). Here is a performance of great style and depth, the lightness of touch creates a light crispy essence to the proceedings, and is quite simply the best way to end the album.

Concerti by Dario Pagano consists of a refreshing collection of truly well performed classical arrangements, ones that should be enjoyed by those who have an ear for really classy musical narratives. The performances contained within are pristine and exude a professional and accomplished presentation; this is one of those albums that will brighten your day and sooth the musical soul.


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Sing Me of Winter By Lisa Swerdlow

 


Sing Me of Winter

By

Lisa Swerdlow

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The world is awash with winter and seasonal singles at the moment, but here is one that really stands out from the rest, it comes from pianist Lisa Swerdlow and is entitled Sing Me of Winter.

Her performance is bright and energetic and the string sections mould the symphonic backdrop of this her latest single beautifully. This has a feel to a TV theme of sorts, and has a wonderful fluent catch about its construction that makes the offering truly addictive to listen to

The interplay with Swerdlow’s piano and the added multi instrumentation is a blissful symbiotic partnership of musical cleverness, one that drives along this most attractive narrative of tone. I would imagine this one will be most popular with her fans and the many listeners of really good seasonal music out there.


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Love Is The Magic of Change By The Song Gardeners

 


Love Is The Magic of Change

By

The Song Gardeners

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The hits keep rolling on for The Song Gardeners and now with the release of Love Is The Magic of Change, they have probably released their most commercial single yet, a song written by Corrie Dunn.

The vibrancy and freshness of this new release is enticing and intoxicating, the production quality and depth of arrangement is exceptional; here we have probably the very first spiritually funky inspired song ever, and it is irresistible.

Love is indeed the magic of change, and once more I believe that The Song Gardeners will find they have another huge hit on their hands, classy musicianship, smooth vocals, and all bathed within energy of intent that is simply undeniable.



Drawn by the Wind By Joseph Sullinger

 


Drawn by the Wind

By

Joseph Sullinger

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I must admit I have been a fan of this song ever since it was originally released back in 2011 on the brilliant album Earth Voyage, and now to finally see it released as a single some 9 years later is utterly sublime.

The performance on acoustic guitar from Sullinger is moody and emotional, it is indeed a track that will pull you into its wake and never let you go. The presentation of the artist is so heart felt and beautifully played, it is one single that would be incredibly easy to leave on repeat for hours; this is a guaranteed moment of musical satisfaction and one with the destiny of a huge chart hit on the horizon as well.


Thursday, November 5, 2020

Sense of Passage By Carlo Matti

 


Sense of Passage

By

Carlo Matti

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Another newish artist to me lands on my desk, this time it is the sensitive refrains of pianist and composer Carlo Matti and his latest offering Sense of Passage. I cannot emphasise enough the gentle and soothing nature of this new album, it would be a total joy for me to float with, and thus this is the musical sojourn we fly with right now.

One personal thumbs up for me, always comes when I see the artist place the title track as the opening piece, this is a huge opportunity to say, here it is, this is what my album is all about, Matti does that brilliantly with this song Sense of Passage, which I would personally rate as one of my favourites off the album, a smooth and calming refrain on piano, with soft and delicate symphonic gestures floating in the background.

Speaking from one who lives by the sea, I couldn’t imagine being without its utter beauty in my life, and if I were looking for a soundtrack to its glory then this piece The Sea would probably get the nod. The utter ambience of this track alone is pictorially brilliant; I could leave this track on repeat for hours and never get bored, I’m right there, watching the ripples, the colours and movement of a late autumn ocean, a lapis liquid heaven

A slight change in energy occurs here with the light hearted reverie of this next piece entitled Valse. This track has such a warming performance on piano by the artist, the presentation is akin to a sunny Sunday morning, where you pull back the curtains and watch the day unfold, with a smile of gratitude on your face.

It has become apparent that Carlo Matti is a musical story teller, and here on this next offering called Unveiling Sun, we have another fine example of that genius, the gentle floating notes and keyboards are simply blissful, the day is filled with a new energy, a simple joy to behold, and one like the composition, to be grateful for.

On Nine Dancers we are gifted a song that sparkles like the night sky on a clear evening. Matti’s sublimely crafted and cultured performance is heavenly to listen to and enjoy, the delicate movement depicts the subject matter with such a charming depth of grace.

As we approach the half way marker we come across a piece called At Dawn. This soothing musical narrative almost contains an energy that could be described as classical in nature, but at all times holds dear to its heart a full flowing and quite scenic performance within its soul, as Matti musically paints yet another wondrous picture with the keys.

Violet begins our journey home; this composition has a slight sense of reflection built into its flowing weave. Almost anthem like in structure, Matti has done it again by creating something meaningful and tender in texture, one that leads us carefully into the lands of this next arrangement entitled Jericho, a mood filled opus of aged memory.

Something we all crave for in truth is a Peaceful Land, from those reflective desires we fly headlong into sun kissed reveries of a new day, as this song wends its merry way. The melody here could easily be transcribed into a single, and I could easily here lyrics with it, in an almost Elton John styled arrangement; this is one of those stand out pieces that is utterly impossible not to like.

A short 5 minute walk from my home would take me to a view, a vista where I can see the Ocean Lighthouse standing proudly against the sky blue background of Cyprus, I closed my eyes and listened to this track, it was perfection! Through the performance I could see the waves crashing up to the rocks, and the gleaming white paint of the lighthouse shining in the radiance of the beginning of a new day.

The gossamer like tendrils of this next piece called Like a Fairy Tale, drifts around us with a light hearted intention, the performance here is indeed mysterious and magical, one that we can all enjoy together in its sun kissed melodic ambience.

So now we have arrived at the penultimate doorway of the album, and also the longest track off the release at just over six minutes, it is called Skies. I simply adored the keyboards manifestation of a hovering sense of anticipation here, the cadence of the minutes that pass and the vastness of the sky is portrayed superbly by the artist.

For our last track we go back to the beginning and sample a repeat of the title header, but this time it’s is a solo piano version of the classy opener Sense of Passage, a composition that due to its arrangement and melodic structures, I hope is released as a single.

Sense of Passage by Carlo Matti is one of those albums you may have had playing for several hours and not noticed, this is ambient piano at it’s very best, and because of its utter beauty and calmness of spirit, there is really little need or desire to spoil the moment by playing something else. Sense of Passage by Carlo Matti is an album I fell in love with from the very first track and onward, it is a peaceful reverie in a new dimension of tranquillity, one that will bring much to your never ending search for calm, and as such this gets a huge big thumbs up from me.


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Speak to the Sky By James Marienthal

 


Speak to the Sky

By

James Marienthal

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

James is a new artist to me, but after taking this journey of flute based magic; it certainly will not be the last. James Marienthal and Speak to The Sky has to be one of the most beautiful albums of its style I have listened to for a very long time and what’s more it has a very memorable energy about its construction too.

This is an eight track release; one that begins with a truly spiritual opus with First Breath and then takes us into an equally haunting reverie entitled Wondering Who, an offering that has such a depth of composition and class, and contains vocalisations from the talented Arwen Ek, that gives the arrangement a sensationally soothing mix.

The title track can be found next, Speak to the Sky is a wonderfully illuminating piece, again a song with an utterly transcendent resonance and through its hovering intent one could easily use this offering for meditational or journeying purposes, as it creates graphic nature based images whilst one is listening to its charming manifestation.

The crisp quality of Marienthal’s flute is something quite special to enjoy, its pristine clarity can be heard on pieces like Escondida, an offering that once again sees vocalisations from Arwen Ek, and then the quite breath taking Navajo Twilight. Whilst listening to this deeply empowering and moving opus, we can almost feel the eyes of the ancestors watching over us, while the moon chases the sun from the sky.

On Returning Home we welcome the guitar of Tom Wasinger, who partners Marienthal on flute, in what has to be said is a beautifully performed symbiotic piece, and then on the penultimate offering entitled Silence Seen the artist switches to the first instrument he learned to perform with, the piano, while we then conclude the album with the outstanding creation entitled A Terraplace of Time. From an ambient perspective this is genius, Marienthal has brought into reality simply the best way to leave the project, and what’s more, leave the listener wanting more.

I must say this was a musical journey that I thoroughly enjoyed and wish to do again many times over, each of the eight tracks contained compositions of great style, thought and intelligence, and were an absolute pleasure to give one’s mind to, which makes it very easy to state that Speak to the Sky by James Marienthal, is an album that I am more than happy to give a huge thumbs up to.


It's Time By Freja Eriksen

 


It's Time

By

Freja Eriksen

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I have listened to this album, It’s Time by Freja Eriksen a few times now, and each occasion I do the poignant lyrics, along with the upbeat and empowering musical accompaniment is simply inspiring to me, as I hope it will be to you.

This voyage of musical freedom starts with an anthem like song entitled Love Revolution Arise.  As a writer of lyrics myself, this is special, it speaks of a much needed revolution, but one from the heart to the heart, where love is the only weapon.

The next piece starts with an acoustic vibe to the proceedings; the track is called Seed of life. The harmonies here are sublime, as is the intent of the song itself, this is also poignant for me as I know one person who really needs to let go now and find the truth! The gentle narrative of tone and vibration is very smooth and quite classy, while Eriksen’s vocals absolutely lift the human soul.

Shine is something we all must do, and this song by Eriksen is something amazingly beautiful. The slight mournful textures here are a clever lead into the main frame of the song, one that yet again has an outstanding lyrical nature.

There is a real sense of abundance about this next piece, entitled Swim the Sea. Eriksen’s vocals here are utterly brilliant, and contain a style here that is almost soul-like in performance, and of course as she states in the lyrics, it’s better to swim in the sea, than be like a fish trying to climb a tree, what a superb analogy that is.

At the mid-way point Eriksen’s last single can be found, It's Time. This is a fine example of how to get a global message over to a global population through the medium of music, a fine composition, superb lyrics and song writing, all mixed together with a little passion and heart, a guaranteed winner.

Our Present is a further example of superior song writing, but one must add the soulful approach on vocals and the string section, that is a slice of continued brilliance throughout this song, and in my view, you have another winner and another possible single here.

The mournful energy of Our Job is our next piece, this was beautiful to feel and touch, the descriptive song writing has amazingly graphic words and also illustrates and enhances the imagination. The acoustic vibe and strings here too are quite breathtakingly beautiful, and all go to make up one of the most scenic arrangements on the album; the message is once more so relevant to now and one hopes that this will get through, it is time.

We have arrived at the penultimate offering off the album, and this marvellous opus is entitled Spread Your Wings. If you ever wanted to suggest a song by the artist, one that exemplifies just how good a vocalist she is, then in my view this would be the track, it is truly wondrous to listen to and enjoy, and of course appreciate.

The last offering off the album is upon us and called Together We Stand, this is a truly clever way to leave the album, with a crafted anthem like song, an uplifting narrative of positivity, and thus this manifestation and resulting piece is something to be truly grateful for. Eriksen is a maestro at creating inspirational compositions, and this one is a particularly brilliant choice, as it concludes our musical journey with the artist.

It's Time, by Freja Eriksen is an exciting new release from the artist, this album bubbles over with enthusiastic compositions, designed to raise our energies, lift our souls, and give us hope of embracing the now and making the changes we need to make. Eriksen has a wonderful voice, and has thus created a multi-instrumental narrative to her album that is both compelling and simply delightful to listen to, and of course, really easy to recommend.  


Hopeful Bliss By Ronald Van Deurzen

 


Hopeful Bliss

By

Ronald Van Deurzen

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The lightness and almost pristine nature of this new single Hopeful Bliss, apart from being something we all need right now more than ever, is utterly transcendent. The artist Ronald Van Deurzen has created a masterstroke of a release with this new offering, one that offers up an empowering tone and energy, to lift humanity’s spirits and indeed hopes for the future.

The multi-instrumental soundtrack style of this single is going to be immensely popular, and its vibrancy will hit hot spots with many listeners across the globe as they seek solace from the raging storm around them. Hopeful Bliss is a single filled with passion and a positive intent, and virtually guaranteed to be a huge success on its musical journey into our hearts.


Friday, October 30, 2020

Peace on Earth By Hiroki Okano

 


Peace on Earth

By

Hiroki Okano

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Peace on Earth has to be the most meaningful title to use in this chaotic and agonising 21st century, and perhaps this album is the panacea that will cure all ills, certainly listening to it does calm the mind and inspire the imagination; here we also have an album that highlights the very best in the New Age music genre.

The multi-instrumentational delights you will find within this album are something of a delight to behold, the flute of Hiroki Okano weaves its spell with each and every composition played, and the best place to start is at the spring of eternal happiness with Mother River, a track so uplifting and beautifully layered, it is the musical equivalent of having a really good hug, something that in this day and age is not that easy to do!

The swirling synths and dream kissed flute leads us into the arms of this next piece entitled Starry Night, a deep but far ranging opus to enjoy, and boy is that easy to do. Okano’s flute is majestic yet tender in its tone, and the performance here is so soothing to bathe within.

Inherited Prayer stands out as a superior flute based track, one that your very imagination takes flight with. For me personally I was taken to a vast redwood forest, and the silhouette of the artist was standing upon the huge branch of a tree playing live to nature itself, how beautiful is it that music can inspire such wonderful imagery.

On our next piece the piano starts our voyage of plenty, and then a wonderful symphonic gesture lightens our way in one of the most beautiful pieces off the album called Fertile Voyage. The symbiotic partnership of the flute and the orchestration was beyond wonderful, and to be honest completely moved me. This is what I would call a composition of great inspiration, from the hands of a heartfelt performance by Okano.

We arrive at the midway point and we come across a track I heard on the radio only the other day entitled Nirvana Westerly. The natural sounds and the stream combine to give us a truly warming flavour, and as if from the mists of the woodlands, Okano’s flute breaks the silence of the day with a pristine performance and the background synths hover with the intensity of an early summer’s morning, in a composition that is as beautiful as a sunrise over the mountains.

Our title track is before us and my goodness this is one heck of an emotionally charged arrangement, the keyboard organ styled sound base is raised upwards with the energy of genius on the track Peace on Earth. The underpinned build here was so craft-fully arranged and engineered it was sublime to listen to, a truly masterful title track indeed, and one that does exactly what it says on the can!

The care and attention to detail that Hiroki Okano has given to the production of this album is off the scale, listen to Dear One's Heart as an example of that love for creation, one can hear the delicacy of bird sound and a stream layered perfectly in the back, whilst the flutes of Okano seem to dance with love within the multi- instrumentational and symphonic brilliance of this offering.

The sensitivity of Pure Child, our next track, is something to respect and appreciate. The gentle piano and flute combination is so charming and loving; one just has to smile with happiness whilst listening to it. There is a well of emotion here that is perfectly balanced within the positivity of the moment, and that resonates quite craft-fully throughout this gentle piece.

Our penultimate arrangement is entitled Walk Here – Kokoperi, this wonderful track brought back some fine memories for me of another artist that Hiroki knows in Nigel Shaw, and his album Dartmoor Roundhouse. The solo flute here was equally effective at creating a blissful moment of musical magic, one that like Nigel’s work, I shall remember for a life time.

We arrive at the last destination on this quite breath taking album, it is called White Moon. This final reverie contains a thoughtful repose, one tinged with a little reflection; it is if we are looking back over our shoulder at the journey taken, and appreciating the experience by the glint of the silvery moon; another wonderfully artistic offering and simply the best way to leave the album.

Peace on Earth by Hiroki Okano has to be one of the best albums to arrive on my desk for reviewing this year, it has everything a new age album should have and far more, it takes you on a journey through nature, and lays out a simple but crystal clear message for us all to acknowledge, Peace On Earth needs to be the new normal now!