Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Along The Way By Melany Thompson

 


Along The Way

By

Melany Thompson

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There is something so melodic about this latest single by Melany Thompson entitled Along the Way, that it literally moves the heart, and fills the empty holes in the soul with emotion.

There are times in life when and where things happen and we literally lose ourselves along the way, yet in our memories we still wish to find that what was once lost, this is how this single moves me, it may, and probably will be different for you, but the power of really good music, like this composition, is that it can take you to exactly where you want to be.

Along the Way by Melany Thompson is the most reflective slice of solo piano I have heard for quite some time, and I can see this being a constant on my musical playlist of choice, it is that good, true beauty of the heart can be found in this piece of tender solo piano.



Infinite Eyes By Shambhu

 


Infinite Eyes

By

Shambhu

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

In my view as a fellow guitarist, there is nothing so expressive than the mood and narrative created, by a mellow and beautifully performed acoustic guitar. Shambhu not only incorporates that, but adds piano and electric guitar into the mix as well.

Infinite Eyes by Shambhu is idyllic; it is a single that breathes fresh life into the day ahead, whilst reminding ourselves of the journey that we have left behind, the usage of minor and major chords is brilliant, as is the wonderfully fluent symbiosis of the additional piano and electric guitar segments.

With moments of reverie and slices of happiness of depth, Infinite Eyes by Shambhu a single from his forthcoming album “Heart Awakening”, is one of the most attractive acoustic guitar singles I have heard for ages, and deserves to be a big hit, please don’t miss out on this one, its truly stunning.


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Grand Piano Spa By Darlene Koldenhoven

 


The Grand Piano Spa

By

Darlene Koldenhoven

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

When one mentions the artist Darlene Koldenhoven, we may assume that they could be referring to one of the foremost vocalists of the current time, indeed she is, but Darlene is so much more than that, and her skill set on the piano is both vast, compelling and relaxing as well, and those three words also aptly sum up this latest album release by the artist entitled The Grand Piano Spa.

There are nine tracks upon this quite chilled release, to ease you into and through any stressful day. Koldenhoven’s performance is both warm and all embracing; we can find an example of this tender touch on tracks like Into The Light, or perhaps the reflective refrains of pieces like Delphi's Dream.

Imagine floating on the warm waves of a tranquil spa and by giving into the moment we can truly enjoy Reverie, one of the most relaxing pieces off the album, one that literally musically massages away any cares and worries you may have.

Koldenhoven has a beautiful performance style, she plays with such a wonderful tender touch, and one can find a perfect example of this on the album via the track Clover Fields, a piece that I personally found hard to leave, and one that brought me much calm after a stressful day.

The narrative of this album is perfect for simply relaxing and letting go of concerns and problems, and Koldenhoven’s talent as a pianist manifests truly blissful and heartfelt pieces, she indeed is the creator of a musical panacea that we all seek, and through her musical compositions that can be found right here on this splendid album.

The release concludes with Simple Life, an almost lullaby styled opus and a clever and crafted way to bring to an end what is a wonderfully chilled collection of well performed and beautifully played tracks, and we can now know these as The Grand Piano Spa, probably one of the most tranquil moments of solo piano your likely to experience this year.



Thursday, April 29, 2021

Rapture By Peter Kater

 


Rapture

By

Peter Kater

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There are occasions in your life that you look forward to with so much eagerness, that it is very hard to stay in the moment; one of those segments of much loved time is the arrival, or pending arrival of a new Peter Kater CD, and that moment of Rapture has now occurred with the arrival of that very album.

Rapture is the album that the genre of New Age, Piano with instrumentation and Neo Classical has been waiting for decades, and the finest body of work I have heard from the artist thus far in my opinion. The journey starts with a film score standard composition, which of course is the proud title track Rapture, sublime crescendos, a commanding constant piano motif, with a symphonic backdrop; this is without doubt simply the best way to start any album, and a composition that deserves to be on a movie, without doubt.

The flute and slight indigenous theme in this next most charming arrangement is called Valley Of Love. The beauty of this offering is that it is so wonderfully fluent, the symbiotic performances by Richard Hardy on flute, and Christian Teele on percussion, along with Kater’s genius on piano are utterly sublime. I really enjoyed the swinging movement and progression throughout this amazing piece.

The delights of this next track are truly wonderful; Promising, our next offering is akin to pulling back the curtains on a Sunday morning, lying back on the bed, and just being grateful to be seeing the start of a brand new day. The soft and slight Jazz ethic was appreciated here, I can see that this could easily become a fan favourite, and without doubt one of the most chilled compositions from the album, now excuse me while I bathe in its utter beauty yet again.

We now take a tentative step towards the fourth track of the album, this tranquil arrangement is entitled Love You So, it has to be said that this is played with such a level of heartfelt honesty, that the performance, delicate that is it is by Kater on piano, seems to dance with the soft musical light of the symphonic and almost light classical backdrop of the arrangement, music indeed from the heart of the artist, directly to yours.

Stole My Heart reminds me of a moment I had at Atlanta Hartsfield Airport  a few years back, I sat transfixed listening to a pianist create such mellow light jazzy themes, whilst waiting for my plane home, it was almost a shame to leave. Here Kater’s impassioned plea of truth and love falls like soft rain from the heavens upon his oh so beautifully played piano.

We have now reached the half way marker, and as we do so we come across a lively arrangement with a sublime element of suspense built within it, it is entitled Come With Me. This up-tempo performance seems to lead us down a Celtic hillside and into the second half of the album, as once more the presentations of inspiring magnificence by both Hardy (Flute) and Kater are on offer here.

Another one of my personal favourites would be this one Sweet Delight, the ambience created here by Kater was awe-inspiring and breathtakingly beautiful. The performance on piano was akin to a story teller reading a classical novel, Kater’s skill set as a pianist here is something to truly enjoy and utterly appreciate.

Well were deep in the weave, but for those of you still looking at the grey skies above, this song is for you and called Hope Of Spring. The soothing musical narrative will push the day into a cadence so radiant and calming, that you will sigh with pleasure. This is one of the warmest pieces off the album, and one of those that when concluded leaves a smile of potential happiness on your face.

In Your Eyes is a splendid song, a musical interpretation of an expression of love so deep, gaze deep into the soul of your loved one to this quite amazing piece, it will work wonders. The passion with which this track is played is literally off the scale, and one that I also fell totally in love with, a track to end the night with most certainly.

We can once more find ourselves in Rapture with this next offering entitled Take Me With You, a light but sensitive feel can be garnered here, one has to salute also the delicate performance on percussion as well, it added a complete dimension to the piece in question without overpowering it, a beautifully worked and crafted opus indeed.

My goodness, there are so many personal favourites here, and this is another one of them for me, it is also our penultimate track entitled Morning Bliss. This maybe a treacle bathed comment, but I won’t apologise for it, but this is something I feel every daybreak when I turn to see Chrissie next to me, Morning Bliss. This tune is gratitude in music; the serene and tranquil performance is also quite cathartic in its construction, and a wonderful healing reverie can be found here without a shadow of a doubt.

Well amazingly we have come to the end of the album, but Peter Kater does have one final musical gift for us to part ways with, it is called By Your Side. A fine smooth presentation to end with here from the two time Grammy Award Winner, and with an album of such pristine quality, I can see that this release must surely be up for an award next year as well.

Rapture by Peter Kater has to be the best work done thus far by the artist, and easily the best I have heard in the genre of Piano with instrumentation this year. The smooth delicacy of touch, and the added instrumentation; hats off to Richard Hardy, (Soprano Saxophone and Flutes), the breath-taking Jennifer Stucki on Oboe, the fluent mastery of the engine room of the album, with Bass and percussive duties from Bijoux Barbosa, Mark Gorman and of course Christian Teele.

All of the aforementioned artists, appear with the genius that is Peter Kater, to produce what is probably one of the finest all round albums you’re going to hear this year with Rapture, please don’t miss out on getting yourself a copy of this, your ears will love you forever.



Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Halo By Timothy Crane

 


Halo

By

Timothy Crane

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I have now listened to this album on no less than three occasions, I am glad I did so before reviewing the album, as I have found more and more within this amazing release each time I did so, which draws me to the conclusion that this is the best body of work I believe from the artist thus far. Halo by Timothy Crane is not just a joyous moment of symphonic piano; it is also a richly textured compilation of sublime arrangements that are literally bursting with colour and life.

The starting piece sparkles in the dappled sunlight of the day, and is entitled Waterfall Secrets. My goodness me, I do not think you could find a more uplifting and radiant opening offering to begin an album with, one that also took me back in time, and reminded me so much of David Lanz and his Spiral Dance creation.

My favourite composition on the album would be the title track Halo. The ambient construct of this arrangement is magnificent and utterly glorious in its compositional structure, this is a wonderfully smooth, creative and calming long form offering of just less than 10 minutes, one that you could literally leave on repeat for hours and be carried away by Cranes performance on a serene warm breeze of music for an eternity. I would even go as far to say that this is film score standard, and most certainly an anthem styled opus.

The One About Light is another warm composition, one of those tracks that will bring a smile of happiness to your face as soon as the piano is first touched, and the melody falls down upon you like soft rain on a summers day. There is also a slight Celtic touch to the construction that is so delicate too; it is like a musical herb, as it adds more flavour to the proceedings.

There can be no doubt that both the Neo-Classical and Piano with Instrumentation genres are on the rise, and the symphonic genius of this release is even more of an affirmation of that statement, listen also to tracks like The Boxer, originally released of course by Simon and Garfunkel back in the day. As a singer I love this song, it gives a great opportunity to create beautiful harmonies, with the main instrumentation being piano, it drives the piece and gives it power and intensity, a great job well done indeed.

Ok, there was one track off this album that I literally could not pull myself away from, I have listened to this piece probably more times than any other, Cards fascinated me, it created for me a flowing musical narrative that was incredibly compelling and deeply listenable, and one could also find themselves whistling or humming the melody all day long. This is also a wonderfully lush performance by the artist, with a build and progression, along with the added instrumentation and percussion that simply became undeniable.

At the half way juncture we come across a lively offering entitled Uberchic, interesting usage of the modern vernacular, and illustrating perhaps that this track is modern, but yet highly classy, and when you listen to this up-tempo, empowering and vibrant performance on piano, who could indeed doubt that aforementioned statement.

One of the most beautiful things about this album is that the Crane has allowed his muse to fully flow, many of the tracks are mid-form length, and some long, but there simply as long as they need to be, and that is nice to see, as sun kissed moments of musical reverie like Southern Steps, another personal favourite of mine, as it drifted down the footfalls of a beautifully moving and creative musical footpath, and one also must applaud the artist for his timely use of crescendo as well.

There was something so pretty about Chelsea Walk, this offering made me stop and restart it many times, the performance on piano and the symbiotic manifestation of this most glorious symphonic backdrop, was akin to a really good TV theme, the melody was bursting with positivity, and radiating a rich tapestry of colour as it went, how can you not simply love a piece like this?

We have mentioned television and film scores throughout this review, but I believe it deserves it more than ever on this most amazing musical adventure entitled Tenants of the Heather. The creative and artistic arrangement here flows with an abundance of a spring mountain river, one full of hope and impassioned intensity. This performance by Crane is one of those splendid pieces that are played with a freedom of expression, and with an appetite of excitement.

We now drift deeper into the weave of the album and find a friendly but respectful composition called Covenant. This song flows with a story of an uplifting and almost spiritual narrative, and then increases in its agreed intensity and purpose, an intriguing creation indeed.

The penultimate offering is entitled I-70 Sojourn, which is the most up tempo offering from the album, an irresistible drum beat and piano performance that is deeply fascinating, as a little pop and at times almost progressive rock ethics can be found within this quite breath-taking and unique creation.

Our last port of call is entitled Solaris, and one has to congratulate Timothy Crane for his inventiveness for manifesting this bright empowering, and fast paced arrangement as our parting composition. The melody and usage of minor chords, plays a perfect musical juxtaposition with the major ones, this is indeed much appreciated, and the perfect way to conclude the album.

Halo by Timothy Crane is without doubt the most exciting and addictive album I have received and reviewed in the piano with instrumentation genre this year with absolute ease. The passionate performances by the artist, the magnificent symphonic soundscapes are all utterly delicious, and raise both the spirits and mood of the listener.

Halo by Timothy Crane is truly an album that will blow the blues away, and those who love the manifestation of wonderfully arranged and performed piano with a symphonic backdrop, should make this a purchase of absolute need as soon as possible.



Thursday, April 22, 2021

Dusk to Diamonds By Timothy Wenzel

 


Dusk to Diamonds

By

Timothy Wenzel

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I have long been a fan of the work of Timothy Wenzel, I was Running Away in 2019, I rode with the Distant Horseman in 2016, but it all started with A Coalescence of Dreams back in 2012, and all the musical journeys in between have been sojourns of utter blissful contemporary instrumental music, now we arrive at one of the most beautiful collections of all time with the heart-warming release of Dusk To Diamonds.

This tale of plenty starts with the opening piece Ghost, a haunting reverie indeed can be found here, and I noted that the more I listened to this track the more I could feel from its delicate, but respectful arrangements, a memorable offering and one bathed in reflective nuances, so tender.

Listening to a Timothy Wenzel release is like Christmas coming early, as you know each and every track off this 12 track album is going to be just what you always wanted, like the almost folk style song  Opening, a redolent energy of less complicated times on sun kissed mountains, could be found here.

The title track is always one of my most favourite musical moments, it is when we hear the total overview of the album from the artist, and Dusk To Diamonds is a total classic, containing the sublime string work of Graeme Cullen on Cello and Jeff Haynes on percussion, if ever a track stood out as a fine creation in the art of contemporary instrumental music, this is the one you would point to.

Wenzel’s keyboards are his pen and paper, and each musical narrative has been cleverly thought out, much can be said for the sombre and almost classical tones of Our Stories, almost a Pavane of its time, hovering mournful strings and a wonderfully layered back drop of sound. This was one of my personal favourites from the release, and a divine Cello performance by Cullen can be found here too, it must be said.

Dusk To Diamonds is a journey across the sea of sincerity and love, and when we reach Ask Me To Stay, we find another incredibly moving track that has a nice build and progression, with a wonderfully melodic tapestry to its construction, a gentle performance, but one with a meaningful purpose.

The string sections on this album, like of Wenzel’s other works, are something to be truly admired, listen in-depth to this next offering entitled How Will You Know? You will find a careful beginning, but one that will unfold with a flute sound that is so tender.

As we step with great care and attention into the second half of the album we come across another personal favourite of mine in Enchanted, this mystical creation has a slight Celtic ethic to it, and a beautiful nature based energy about its construction, one that reminded me in parts of another great American contemporary artist in Holland Phillips.

Is it, we ask ourselves, time to Dance Forever, the clever percussive backdrop by Haynes added a layered dimension to this crafted offering, one that also contained the magical hands of Jill Haley in the mix, and this symbiotic partnership weaved it’s almost sixteenth century spell across my imagination; a wonderful combination of creation and manifestation can be found here.

 A track with a certain purpose is up next and called Awaken Me, at six and a half minutes this would be the longest piece off the release and rightly so, this may well go down as an anthem for the artist, its smooth tones and refrains spin a web of freshness and life across the window of the day ahead, listen also to the rustic vibes created by sublime violinist Josie Quick.

The mist slowly clears across the pathway to reveal a cemetery long since fallen into decay, barren branches of trees wave in the autumn wind, as we watch the Dance of the Dead. I just keep piling up the favourites, but this one is another stand out for me, and film score standard with ease, the haunting sounds and vocals are amazingly enhanced by the efforts of both Vicki Smith and the Teen Angels, this is a must listen to, leave on repeat composition, one that I shall revisit many times over.

The curiously entitled Fox and Butterfly is up next, this vibrant yet chilled penultimate offering sits proud as yet another wonderfully manifested slice of classic instrumental music, to date I don’t think I have found an album this year, that upon it so many favourite pieces sit, and yes, this is another one. Hats off to Jeff Haynes here, adding a wonderful layer of classy percussion.

Amazingly we have come to the end of our musical journey with the artist and we end this voyage with one final piece, and that track is entitled Walking So Sweetly, textures of music from ancient times and a gently weaved instrumental moment of utter dedication, Haley is sublime on this track, while Wenzel finishes with an utter top notch performance, bathed in complete honesty and love.

I had been longing to get my hands on a copy of Dusk to Diamonds by Timothy Wenzel and now I have, I feel I can state on the record that I believe this album to be the best work done so far by the artist. Wenzel has captured the art of composing reflective pieces with such precision on this album, that I believe the journey to its final manifestation may well have been a cathartic one for the artist too.

Dusk to Diamonds by Timothy Wenzel is a must have album for all lovers of truly good music, as wonderfully created moments of musical reflection can all be found here.



Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Future Shock By Michael Whalen

 



Future Shock

By

Michael Whalen

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Future Shock by Michael Whalen has to be one of the most original released albums this year. Whalen, who is still fresh from chart topping success with his last offering Sacred Spaces, has created a splendid blended collection of fine songs, that range anywhere between progressive jazz to electro-funk and more.

The opening piece is our title track, the grand and all powerful composition entitled Future Shock, a mixture of driving synths, an all-consuming engine room of percussion, give us a undeniable opening moment of electronic magic, one that floats it’s manifestations between funk and chill out.

The slightly Jazzy motifs of Hop, Skip And Jump are truly addictive, and at times reminds me of a group from history that we all might know in the Average White Band, however Whalen’s keyboards and synths extend that further and almost into the realm of a Keith Emerson textured performance, this is something amazing to behold, and perhaps single material as well!

Smooth, sensual and layered, that is a fine description for our next track entitled La Hermosa Noche, lush and colourful Latin vibes are here, and the textured and tranquil global Jazz patterns really make this piece one of the most beautiful to bathe within upon the whole album.

Lights Of Home is a composition filled with expectancy, the gentle build and progression on keyboards is something one would have expected from Tony Banks of Genesis back in the day, then the saxophone break by Bob Magnuson was simply sublime; this tempered and soothing musical narrative would be one of my personal favourites from this wonderfully cultured album.

As we approach the half way marker we come across a song that is as radiant as the day is new, it’s called Memories Of You. This is one of those compositions that could easily suite a TV series as its theme tune, apart from that, the wonderfully fluent Jazz ethic here is so creative, and conjures up some really warming images of times past and times enjoyed.

Whalen’s love for Jazz and his own interpretations for it are well known and much appreciated, and on Poly Jam we find that utter uniqueness that is the very heart and soul of the artist. It’s time to push the boundaries with this effervescing and exciting offering, from funk to progressive rock, from ELP to Yes and back, this piece simply has something for everyone.

How can you ever come across a track like Miracle Mile and not utterly love it, bathed in the energies of Caribbean ethic, and swimming with the heartbeat of bands like the UK’s Level 42 or Spyro Gyra, with that ever addictive funky drum beat and percussive vibe, this is Jazz Funk at its best, with Whalen’s keyboards creating some of the most emphatic moments ever.

The light and artistic Morning Song is up next, one could with ease imagine playing this as part of a spring waking ritual in early April, this is a wonderful composition and a beautifully chilled piece as well, where one can enjoy the symbiotic partnership between Magnuson and Whalen on Sax and Synths, this track is a true breakfast anthem.

To grace us with a penultimate piece like Wanderlust was a real gift from heaven, its fast and vibrant tempo manifests a huge well of musical energy, and one has to tip the hat for an utterly outstanding performance on percussion by the simply amazing Simon Phillips, a man who if I remember correctly, I watched perform with The Michael Schenker group back in the early eighties, and rated to be one of the world’s best ever on the skins, whatever genre he performs in.

The last chilled offering off this quite breath taking release is entitled Your Eyes, Your Touch, Your Kiss, I mean what a great title. This has to be the sexiest arrangements off the entire album, here is a piece that exudes sensuality through performance, and of course, leaves you wanting more at its conclusion.

Future Shock by Michael Whalen is a journey of musical class you’re all going to want to travel, it’s funky and soul filled compositions are all produced with such quality and precision it’s impossible to resist, in fact resistance is entirely futile. The tip of several hats has to go here to his collective of stunning musicians including Simon Phillips (Drums &Percussion) Bob Magnuson (Sax and more) and Tony Levin Basses galore, each artist’s imprint of perfection is upon this album, and Michael Whalen’s sheer brilliance on keyboards has brought to the world one of the most desirable albums to enjoy this year with ease and named Future Shock.


Here is the sale/streaming fanlink for the album: https://fanlink.to/michaelwhalenfutureshock


Here are the links to the two videos:


A Wish By Fransoafran

 


A Wish

By

Fransoafran

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Such bliss emanated from my speakers this morning as I floated for just under two minutes with the artist Fransoafran. This neo-classical moment of utter heaven is called A Wish, and I think by listening to this heavenly piece I must have made one this morning.

The composition is lush and deeply moving, the symbiosis between piano and violin was simply perfect, and my only complainant was I could have swam in this musical heaven for at least another two more minutes or even longer. This is music that transcends beauty itself, and another big singles hit for the artist surely.




Amethyst By Al Jewer & Andy Mitran

 


Amethyst

By

Al Jewer & Andy Mitran

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Al Jewer & Andy Mitran are back, and they have aligned themselves with the talent and skill set of Hans Christian on this brand new single entitled Amethyst.

It’s good to see this pairing back on the recording scene and embracing the singles culture with this sparkling new offering. There is so much here to adore, the essences of a fine new age composition are created with beautiful flutes, keyboards and percussion.

Amethyst as a song is a fine example to hold up as truly excellent contemporary instrumental music, its tones drifted around my room with utter freedom this morning, the compositional structures and artistic endeavours here should reveal a big chart position for the artists.



Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Measures of Light By Wayne Bethanis

 


Measures of Light

By

Wayne Bethanis

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Wayne Bethanis has to be one of the most creative and passionate pianists on the planet today, his desire to manifest great and outstanding works in the industry is growing with each passing day and is well known, and with the arrival of Measures of Light, his latest album, we may well have seen that star rise to its highest point thus far.

To start with such power and intensity is not only a stunning thing to do, but the breath taking opus of The Legend of Tartaria is something one is more likely to see on the grandest stage of all, the movie fil score. Bethanis has elevated his performance here to one of an incredible emotive soundtrack of a starting composition.

Tuatha Dé Danann has all the Celtic charm it deserves, Bethanis manifests a soundscape for the original gods of Ireland, and does it with such an effervescent style, that it is hard to listen to without feeling every nerve on your body stand to attention. This glourious opus is bathed in a proud refrain from days of glory and happiness, and is a sparkling arrangement to lift us into the realms of a very well-known next song.

That next piece is indeed the world beating Song for a New World, a huge hit single for the artist, this is one of those fast paced, up-tempo offerings you simply cannot do anything but fall in love with. The performance is like a thousand stars all playing in harmony; this in short, is what really good instrumental music should sound like, a wonderfully paced piano and a sublime Oldfield like guitar, utter magic.

Wayne Bethanis now creates a tender moment for us all to enjoy, through the refrains of this next offering entitled I'm Always Here. Here we have a heartfelt track that simply cries honesty and unconditional love through the keys of the piano, a powerful and emotional illustration of classy instrumental music indeed, one that also contains utterly perfect crescendos too.

As we move into the second half of the album we come across a beautiful piece entitled Butterfly Cluster. This would become one of my personal favourites off the album. The performance on the keys is a perfect depiction of thousands of migrating butterflies, and I should know, a year back I stood within a coloured realm of a billion butterflies crossing continents, and this music would have been perfect for that amazing moment.

The curiously entitled Unexpected Prophet has a lush colourful and smooth feel to its construction; the symphonic moments only enhance this further, this is a delicate offering, but one played with a deep sense of respect and understanding of a far bigger picture of reality perhaps. I adored the performance on this piece; it is one of those that you never wish to end, and has that comforting ‘arm around the shoulder’ feel to its energy as well.

The shortest track off the album is These Years, the overall nature of this track is fascinating, in as much as these years have been very tough for all of us, but the music plays from a different angle, suggesting perhaps that these moments may be of far great importance that we at first realise. Musically this is a fun piece that in some way makes me think it could be used in a TV series, like Cheers.

Now, how can one not simply fall in love with the start of this next arrangement entitled I Will Return to You. A bell chimes and the natural sounds of water can be heard to usher us into what I believe to be one of the stand out pieces off the release. This is musical drama, bathed with a whole range of romantic overtones that makes it so utterly desirable; The perfect multi-instrumental album track, with a lush symphonic backdrop and the inevitable cinematic crescendo, a piece that I believe that even David Lanz would have been proud off, such bliss indeed.

This final offering you really need to listen to purely, when I say that I mean with no distractions. The Gods of the Egyptians is a tale told by the artist, with all the expected dramatic nuances of the region contained within. The wonderful global ethic with the Tabla and percussive instrumentation, created with the artist’s piano, is a track that is as addictive as the pyramids themselves, without doubt, if performed live this would be a moment of standing ovation with ease.

Measures of Light by Wayne Bethanis is without a shadow of a doubt the best work from the artist ever, the grand gestures, the wonderfully colourful musical narratives, are all akin to creating music that will allow you to travel with tone and tide through each and every track of this amazing new album.

Sometimes when we create something so vast, so compelling and so good, it becomes undeniable, as is Measures of Light by Wayne Bethanis. If you don’t buy anything else this year, make this that purchase, it will be one of the best musical decisions you will ever make.


Monday, April 19, 2021

Arrive and Disappear By Tom Caufield

 


Arrive and Disappear

By

Tom Caufield

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There is a wonderful sense of ambience created by the new album by Tom Caufield entitled Arrive and Disappear. Without a shadow of a doubt Caufield can count himself as one of the best acoustic guitarists of this modern age, and with this brand new release we can enjoy further, the beauty of this man’s transcendent musical creations.

I believe that the opening piece has to be one of the most layered and textured multi-instrumental acoustic compositions I have heard this year. Arrive and Disappear the title track, is both memorable and utterly smooth in its overall ethos, and allows us to enter the project with a warm sense of calm and tranquillity.

There are eight magical tracks on this new release to bathe within, like the transcendent Ommadawn. A track so soulful and emotive, I adored the mix of strings, and the constant energy of guitar that manifested such a soothing serene quality to the proceedings.

I adore music that tells a tale, one that weaves a narrative that one’s imagination can create something wonderful from, and I would recommend Tomorrow's Road with regard to that, a bright, but ever onward composition that is filled with hope and potential.

The penultimate offering off the album really deserves a mention too; it’s called The Little We Choose. The simplistic energy of this track and its respectful chords and notes makes this one of the most heartfelt offerings of the album, and easily one of those that could be left on repeat for hours.

We shouldn’t be surprised about the quality of a Tom Caufield album release as it is always bound to be totally top grade, but Arrive and Disappear may well have even found greater heights, its constant soothing narrative, it’s charming calm sense of tone, and the timeless performances of serene brilliance, all go to suggest that perhaps this is the best work so far from the artist and to be honest, if you’re a fan of really good contemporary instrumental music, then Arrive and Disappear by Tom Caufield should be in your collection at all costs.


Orenda: Breath of Angels By Dyan Garris

 


Orenda: Breath of Angels

By

Dyan Garris

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I had only be talking to a friend the other day about the lack of albums about Angels in the New Age music scene these days, when up pops this splendid new release by composer Dyan Garris, and her latest offering, a fine collection of beautiful tracks we can now know as Orenda: Breath of Angels.

This is the artist’s 14th album and her experience and fluent artistry, dare I say, may have seen created one of the best albums of year in this genre by far, with wonderfully flowing pieces like the opener, Every Time You Breathe feat. Juliet Lyons, VOX & Sherry Finzer, to the soothing narrative of the following offering Another Place.

The title track Orenda is truly something to admire, the keyboard performance by the artist seems to literally hover all around you, it is as if the very tones and timbre of this most marvellous composition, are touching your very soul; when I hear music like this I am filled with joy and abundance.

Here is a joyous album that takes us back to the golden days of classic New Age music, and I can see that this is going to be a real permanent fixture on my player of choice, as is the track Timeless Traveler feat. Sherry Finzer, a piece that utilises the perfect flute performances of the flautist once more.

This is an album that it must be said is utterly translucent, and its radiance shines with each and every track, and one that concludes with the beautifully named 5th Eye Trance feat. Rebekah Eden & VOX, this is one of the finest offerings of angelic ambience I have heard for literally decades.

Orenda: Breath of Angels has without doubt been created by an unconditional connection to the angelic realms, this is the breath of fresh air this industry needs, and Garris must be proud of this her manifestation, for it has set free the genre of New age music once more, and Orenda: Breath of Angels by Dyan Garris will be the flag bearer at the front of this new revolution of sight and sound. This album deserves the high chart placings, and the inevitable awards it will get, simply and breathtakingly outstanding.



Thursday, April 15, 2021

Heart Awakening By Shambhu

 


Heart Awakening

By

Shambhu

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

This latest single by Shambhu is like a ray of sunshine breaking in through an early morning window in spring. I have not heard a warmer performance this year, and the acoustic guitar of the artist is that musical embrace that just completes the day, and soothes the mind from its constant chatter.

Shambhu and Heart Awakening is one of the most delightfully comforting moments from the acoustic genre you could ever wish for, its slow and caring progression is like a musical panacea to cure all daily woes, and this composition sits on the edge of being a huge chart hit because of its outright friendly and loving connection to each of our open hearts.



Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Uto' Pians Vol 2 By Various Artists

 


Uto'Pians Vol 2

By

Various Artists

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I needed an ambient experience this morning, Wednesdays are a day of stress for me for personal reasons, and so it was the medium of music I sought to ease those concerns, and fortunately for me I would be taking a look at and reviewing this latest album, by a collective of various artists entitled Uto’Pians Vol 2.

Mirage by Raphaelle Thibaut started my journey of bliss with a short but scene setting offering that just floated towards me with a performance that was so easy on the ears. While the delights of the piece Temporary Shelter From The Storm, by Arthur Jeffes, truly created something wonderfully fluent and ambient to bathe within, this chilled presentation was simply idyllic.

Uto’Pians Vol 2 is a mixture of melodies and creations that contain a strong bond between piano or keyboards, and added instrumentation, but all manifest something very addictive and listenable, much can be said for the next offering entitled Optis Nocturne by Christopher Dicker, the piano here was simply delicious and that slight classical motif made this dish of music even more palatable.

My day grew better with each passing composition, For a Kinder World by David Wenngren took me to a place of sanctuary and serenity, while the multi instrumental nature of Hyperspace created a little mysterious energy, one underpinned by a lush and colourful piano, and I thank Christina Higham for that beautiful moment.

It was at this time that I had noted a serene sense of calm had now come over me as I continued to listen; when I reached Inner Sights I realised I was probably listening to one of the most diverse and creative albums I had heard for some time, Patrick Delobel’s creation a prime example, with a little Jazz motif and all mixed with a sense of light classical energy as well, a possible soundtrack in the making here perhaps.

The midway point is reached once the track Tree Spirit is opened. Again the sensitivity of performance here truly brings home the eastern motifs and meditative spirit of the track itself, and confirms once more just how brilliantly varied this release actually is, top marks to Feryanto for this minimalistic composition, which would literally explode into life just over the half way mark in the track.

Keep Shining by Midori Hirano is our next brush stroke of genius, the artist manifests something on piano I haven’t heard the like of since Revelations by Michael Harrison in 2006. Hirano pulls of a top quality performance, and this slice of progressive ambience brings us full circle when we arrive in the arms of our next artist in Marie Awadis, who brings us one of my favourite songs off the album with Raindrops, the hovering synths and delicate keyboards birth a sparking composition, one that floats across the infinite sky above us.

The beauty of releasing a various artists album is that each and every track will have its own specific signature; the keyboards of Dominique Charpentie and the offering Parasol bring us something soothing yes, but also something quite reflective of the modern era in melody.

Dancing Trees is as wonderfully artistic presentation, one brought to life via pianist Alexandra Hamilton-Ayres. The movement of nature and the energy of the wind can all be found in the artist’s splendid composition, while the warm and healing keyboards of Wilson Trouvé create a musical panacea to cure all ills with his delicate, yet homely offering entitled The Hours, this would be another of my personal favourites, it’s seemingly timeless refrains are a real pleasure to drift off to.

Oskar Tena delivers our penultimate track off the album with the piece Alive, there is a slight tension built in to this track that is really appealing, the apprehensive yet grateful piano based nuances lead us perfectly by the hand to the concluding song off the release by Valeska Rautenberg, her vocals partnered with a sombre and reflective piano bring about truly crafted and clever end to this album with You Are Everything.

Uto’Pians Vol 2 an album featuring Various Artists is a well thought out, and wonderfully worked collective of likeminded individuals, that have brought about one of the most varied and listenable albums I have heard for quite some time. There is indeed something on this album for everyone, and added to that, if you wish to ease back against the rage of modern day life, this album is certainly one that will help you succeeded in your goal to do that.


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

A Quiet Path By Lynn Tredeau

 


A Quiet Path

By

Lynn Tredeau

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Lynn Tredeau is a very special talent; she is a quiet composer of heart felt and emotive compositions, ones that flow from this great reservoir of emotions to this ever abundant solo piano genre and its ever eager fans. The artist has now released her seventh album, and in my view it is one of the most outstanding works she has given us as of yet.

A Quiet Path is an album that is similar to my own view on life; we live our lives in a sequence of moments, each to be taken on their own merit, and to be enjoyed by being present and in the moment, and with each personal breath. The first track is a reflective but simple offering entitled Kites & Balloons, just listen and allow your mind to visualise the movement through the air of such things, and you will have it, beautifully simplistic, but so artfully played.

Dappled Shade does exactly what it says on the can, remember sitting by a river or a lake, just watching the day go by, the delight of watching the glistening fractal impressions as the sun kissed the water, and then the sunlight that drifts across the edge of the clouds that ease by. Dappled Shade is a perfection depiction on piano about those moments for me.

One that had me in rapture was Meadowlark, we get many of them here, and to just stand and simply watch them is purely a blissful, in the moment segment indeed. The performance is easy and light; one can imagine with ease the gentleness of flight and the happiness of freedom, through Tredeau’s composition.

We now move to a piece called Many Faces of Cassiopeia, this for me was one of the most emotional tracks off the album, I used to gaze up at this wonderful constellation as a child, one filled with so much wonder, and now as a much older man, I still do the same. Tredeau’s performance here brings a lump to your throat and a tear of wonderment to the eye, it is that good.

As we approach the half way juncture we come across a blissful composition that will literally transport you to another location entirely, and called Moving Mountains. This is one very clever piece that flows like the ever undulating hillsides, and rises across the ranges like the mountains themselves with such consulate ease, if this isn’t a piece that would raise your spirits I don’t know what is.

The nocturnal senses are now stimulated with this next offering entitled Hush of Night. This is one of those tracks that could possibly have been composed in the small hours of a dark winter morning, when sleep wasn’t an option that would come. This is such a meaningful arrangement that it truly moves me, I feel I have been where this music has taken me, to a place of solitude in tone and composition in the blackness of the night.

Lynn Tredeau is an artist who literally pours her heart out onto the piano, I have said so for many years, now and through the piece Moon Gazing we can feel that within its structures and arrangements. There is a wonderful elevation of intensity here as if the moon is rising while we watch, but also for me this is a very personal song that we probably have all been under the spell of at one time or another.

The gentle refrains from this quite idyllic track is truly appreciated, as we listen intently now to Rest a Moment. This is probably the most meditative segment off the album as the artists performance and her playing style, one that is beautifully measured and gives us not only something enjoyable musically, but a moment to breath and just simply be as well.

I had to smile when I listened to this track entitled Sunday on the Island. I adore music like this that totally sums up my life and a specific moment; I was only lying next to Chrissie last week, as we opened the curtains of another stunning Sunday morning, and we breathed in the bliss of a new day, a beautiful blue sky, and light fluffy clouds, just eased on by. The warmth with which this composition has been put together, is one of the finest examples of an appreciation of a simple moment as I have ever heard, and yes, I do live on an Island.

Our penultimate offering is called Saudade, this has to be the most emotional track off the album, the piece has such a longing, such an emotive refrain of a need to feel again, perhaps the love of something or someone, that has been lost for good, and through a heartfelt exploration of those feelings, Tredeau helps us deal with any grief in our lives through the one true healer in the world, music.

The last track off this quite moving and artistic album is entitled Aeonian, it is the perfect way to end this collection of utterly transcendent offerings, a moment of musical magic that depicts the immeasurable and almost eternal passage of time, one that seems to last for eternity. This track was also cleverly placed, when one considers the juxtaposition to that of the previous offering.

A Quiet Path by Lynn Tredeau is in my view the artist’s best work to date, and I know that can be somewhat of a clichéd comment, but I truly mean it. She has given us the best insight through to who she is as a person, she has worn her musical heart on her sleeve, and this utter honesty and truthfulness through music, has revealed possibly the best album she has gifted to the world with ease thus far, now this is what excellent solo piano is all about.



Monday, April 12, 2021

Twelvemonth By Pam Asberry

 


Twelvemonth

By

Pam Asberry

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There is nothing quite like the expectation and then the final gift of a new Pam Asberry album, it is certainly something to look forward to, and something to treasure once obtained. The artist has slowly made her way up the league table of solo piano performers, and must now be regarded as one of the best of this modern era, especially after the huge successes of releases like The Presence Of Wonder and Moods, Impressions and Souvenirs.

On her latest release Twelvemonth, Asberry celebrates and dedicates the album to the memory of Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, a remarkable woman and stunning composer and pianist from the 19th century. Here Asberry explores the essences of her style and manifests 12 brand new offerings bathed in the energies of the inspiration, birthed from a collection of works back then known as, Das Jahr (The Year), and composed in 1841.

From the very first offering entitled Snow, you will note the explorative genius of this project; I must admit to have played this piece now 3 times in one hour and I still want more, it sets the scene perfectly for the album and is one of the finest compositions created by the artist all time.

The 12 tracks wend their way through a musical year to bring you many twists and turns of both nature, time, tide and change, like the amazingly powerful offering Wind, with Asberry in unstoppable form, and the dance like Maypole, with its happy rhythms and joyous refrains, a celebration of spring that I still remember to this day from England as well.

The natural performances on this album are utterly riveting, take Sparklers for example, a piece that has a wonderfully fluent melody and narrative, and one can with ease see the fireworks of a day of celebration rise and fall in the night sky with ease.

This collection of crafted songs is a true pleasure to dive head long into, even with the more moody filled opuses like Lament and Shadows, two perfect depictions of the oncoming seasons and autumn’s chilling embrace, which of course lead into the last two winter based offerings off the album, the last being the quite emotive and warming Hope, simply the best way to leave the release without doubt and full of Christmastide plenitude and optimism.

Twelvemonth by Pam Asberry is in my view a ground breaking release for the artist; she has fused a multitude of styles that reflect the subject matter of a year through music, and in doing so stunningly manifested an album of quite amazing quality.

There surely can be no doubt that Twelvemonth by Pam Asberry has seen the musician embrace the artist within herself, and in doing so has leaped up the long ladder of success, with what has to be a must buy album.