Friday, January 29, 2021

It’s Good to Be Home By Annie Locke


It’s Good to Be Home


Annie Locke

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Most of us have been locked inside our homes now for a long while during this pandemic, and the longing for some kind of normality grows stronger with each passing day. Pianist Annie Locke has in a way, with this her latest single, created an anthem for that desire of a warm familiarity of normalcy.

It’s Good to Be Home is a very pleasing composition, a sense of longing can be found here, but more than anything, a reality and a happiness of being in a safe environment, and perhaps even with someone who is special.

Locke’s touch on the keys gifts us a reverie, a gaze from the window of hope, but also one of acceptance and gratitude, all rolled into one very warm and homely performance.

Surrender By Pam Asberry




Pam Asberry

Written by

Steve Sheppard


This latest single by Pam Asberry is a step into a whole new world for the artist, the flowing musical narrative accompanied by orchestration is sublime, and a tip of the hat to Deborah Offenhauser for her work there, this is as powerful and thematic as you can get, the string sections and dramatic crescendos all usher in a new era for one of the finest female pianists around these days.

Pam Asberry has taken the next stage in her musical evolution, and has manifested something deeply moving and emotive in the process, a certain hit for sure lies in wait for the musician with this her latest single.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Always Golden Sands (EP) & Vista (Album) By Peter Chilvers & Jon Durant


Always Golden Sands (EP) & Vista (Album)


Peter Chilvers & Jon Durant

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I begin on an unusual combination today, as for the first time I review and ep and an album at the same time by the outstanding ambient duo, Peter Chilvers and Jon Durant. We shall take a look at the three track EP first entitled Always Golden Sands.

From this quite soothing collection I found that I had defaulted to the first track on now three occasions, autumn is always a very special time of the year for me, and music created about it doubly so. Always Autumn the arrangement is so redolent of late October, and the ambient tones of the artists, caress the gentle winds that blow the golden leaves from the tress.

The middle piece off the EP is entitled Shifting Sands and has a wonderful sense of movement about its construction that I totally adored. At times I could even draw comparisons to the late but great Michael Allison (Darshan Ambient), the synths and keyboards floated with the cadence of the day and the ever moving nature of sand, time and tide combined flawlessly.

The third and final track from the EP is called Golden; this lush and colourful musical narrative is simply idyllic, this is ambient music at its most descriptive, and it is a performance like this from Chilvers and Durant, which also inspire me as a musician too, one who also plays both keyboards and ambient guitar. The serene energy and calmness of compositional arrangement is blissful, and at times redolent of another late but great artist in Harold Budd.

So we move now from the realms of the EP Always Golden Sands and into the welcoming arms of the album entitled Vista, this journey starts with a very familiar word, one that has now become part of our everyday lives, Quarantine. The most obvious comparison from the previous EP is that this sojourn starts with a really dark and tentative offering, one all too familiar to us. Quarantine is wonderfully nervous, like taking steps in a completely dark room and hoping to avoid any dangers, the performance here is utterly mysterious and dark, and similar in depth to Eno’s work on his early ambient albums like On Land.

We move onto a truly charming offering from the duo entitled Hamlet, the keyboards here offer up a warming narrative, but one that’s touched with an element of care and a sense of respect. This is the shortest track off the album at four and a half minutes long, and is one that manifests a wonderfully slow pathway of ambient genius as well, one that has a charming European motif to its narrative as well.

Embers is our next port of call, the guitar of Durant here is sublime at creating a mood so vast, wide and mysterious, the nature of the keyboards and this incredible symbiotic partnership with Chilvers manifests a realm of music that is its own ambient dimensional construct, Embers is indeed a piece to get utterly lost in.

This next piece is divine and also happens to be our penultimate offering, entitled Age of Steam. I grew up as a child of steam trains, but in its latter days, this could easily be a soundtrack to those perambulations of yesteryear. The clever and creative combinations of musical mastery here are bathed in a steady and onward movement, and the crisp and memorable performances by both Chilvers and Durant, offer up a beautiful textured tapestry of sound to bathe within.

For our last piece we go long form, and this classy yet huge composition, one at well over 20 minutes long is upon us and called Sunset. The slow and tentative sojourn here is so redolent of the subject matter. This expansive opus is an ambient music fans delight; the essence of the piece and its construction allows us as listeners an age to wander freely within the music, giving us all moments of time to enjoy all the nuances of the track. The keyboards and the Cloud guitars of Durant give us a wonderful conclusion to the album, in a track to literally just float away to.

Peter Chilvers and Jon Durant have manifested two collections of simply idyllic music for us to enjoy on the EP Always Golden Sands and the album Vista. The expansive qualities and textures of quite breath taking music create a clever yet beautiful juxtaposition between the two recordings, and we can see how one spawned, if you will, the other.  For me this is exactly what I adore in ambient music, and as listeners we have the perfect treat of both light and shadow on both albums, and a musical myriad of ambient dimensions to swim within for an eternity, ambient music really doesn’t get any better than this.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Dancing With Darkness By Bruce Petherick


Dancing With Darkness


Bruce Petherick

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There is something about the work of Bruce Petherick that ticks all of my emotional and musical boxes, I love the moody styled opuses that offer up much thought and reflection, and through this latest offering by Petherick entitled Dancing With Darkness, we have that and much more.

I recall the deep and meaningful tones of Winter Stillness from the artist back in 2018, and revelled in its moments of inner calm, and now with this new album, I am set free to explore another wonderland of thought and reflection within music.

The opening piece is idyllic and simply perfection, and of course is the title track Dancing With Darkness, this lush long form composition gives me plenty of time to wonder within the performance, enjoying all the nuances and mood filled moments, this for me was 12 minutes of my time gratefully spent in a performance that was warm, all-encompassing and extremely gentle in construction.

The longest piece off the release is On Being Present; this offers up to me what are indeed noble truths. Being in this moment is the most important aspect of our life, it is the only real thing we will ever experience, and this sense of newness gives me a 13 minute creation that is both meditative and all embracing, the lightness of touch by the artist on this track in particular is utterly beautiful to enjoy, with every single touch of the keys.

Giving thanks and being grateful is a daily mantra for me, in fact I am doing it right now, I am allowing myself to be so whilst I listen to the next offering, On Being Grateful. For me this has to be one of the most ambient performances upon the album, and one that I found hard not to just leave on constant repeat, there is a delicacy about this piece that I found so appealing, one that had such a careful but attentive flowing melody that just hovered within the floating confines of the arrangement.

The deep start to On Being Truthful to Yourself is sublime, it is like a musical statement, one of complete honesty. The depths of this 10 minute plus opus are wonderfully created and manifested with such a moving sense of emotion, one that is easily felt and deeply appreciated. Through this one simply blissful yet utterly honest performance on piano by Petherick, I feel like the observer of my life thus far, it contains the resonance of acceptance and tones of the undeniable truth.

How often is it that when a person asks you how are you today, you simply respond, I’m good thanks, when that’s clearly a lie. On Learning to Say: I'm Not OK we are liberated without really having to give a reason why; the fluency of performance here is something to truly enjoy, when one creates long form tracks sometimes it is easy to find yourself going off on musical tangents, sometimes this works, but not always, here Bruce Petherick gives us a track that is once again completely honest, but a piece that stays within the confines of its original manifestation.

As we arrive at the penultimate offering of the album we come across an utter gem entitled Summer Solstice Sunrise. This one is very personal for me, as my wedding anniversary is on this date, and as such means the world and more to me. The artists careful and extremely artistic endeavour here is crafted so well and manifested with such style, one could easily be there with him watching the cadence of the day unfurl, this is one of the most artistic and colourful offerings from this fine collection of tracks, also pay very close attention to the change of energy towards the conclusion of this composition.

Last year Bruce Petherick released Embracing The Darkness as a single, now we have the album version to enjoy, for me this was a wonderful moment of reflection through music that I thoroughly revelled in, and here on this fresh offering we can do so again, and of course by the very nature of the title, it also makes it the perfect ending composition off the album.

Dancing With Darkness by Bruce Petherick is a truly outstanding album, it offers us, the ever eager listener, a place of sanctuary to go to, it offers us a musical sojourn to explore when it’s time to reflect on life, but it also offers us some of the most meaningful and emotive performances to enjoy as well, and in my opinion these can be found in the best work of the artist so far on this latest release, Dancing With Darkness, this is one album that must not be missed at all costs.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Warrior of Light By The Song Gardeners


Warrior of Light


The Song Gardeners

Written by

Steve Sheppard


This has to be the most important single released this year so far, it is entitled Warrior of Light, you will find some very poignant lyrics within this superb single, so please listen carefully and then become that warrior you know you can be.

A smooth and beautifully produced offering once more, quality is something we have come to expect from The Song Gardeners, but this must be the most empowering piece yet, and coming at a time when the whole world, for one reason or another needs to heal. A smart and tranquil song with a ultra-positive message, all done to the backdrop of a truly beautifully performed arrangement.

The video can be found here:

The streaming/download link is here:

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Aqua Luna By John Tinger


Aqua Luna


John Tinger

Written by

Steve Sheppard


The delightful energy that flows from this pristine offering by John Tinger on guitar is sublimely warm to bathe within. The fluent performance on this acoustic production is such a treat, and one that fans of this genre will adore.

Aqua Luna is seven plus minutes of a magical performance you never want to end, Tinger’s finger style is both precise and melodic and cleverly crafted as well, the musical narration is a story within a larger rock pool of tone, and one that I can see being adored by the instrumental lovers of really good music alike.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Water Sign By David Lanz


Water Sign


David Lanz

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There can only be one pianist, who through the ages has consistently produced quality album, after quality album, one man whose attention to infinite details of performance and musical structure cannot be matched, and one man whose love of really good music has shone a beacon of beauty through every willing listeners musical windows, that man is David Lanz and 37 years on since Heartsounds, we have his latest offering Water Sign, an album which is about to take the solo piano world by storm.

The first tentative footsteps within this release can be taken by following the bright and effervescent enthusiasm of the opening piece, My Aphrodite. This is a song so very close to the heart of the artist and myself, as we both share two things in common, our lives on the island of love, and our own Aphrodite. This is the perfect performance on piano for us to set sail and truly enjoy the journey with.

The charm with which Lanz plays has had me spell bound for some years now, and if we listen carefully to the crafted tones and the care and attention to detail on the piece Sol Dance, we can see why. Here lies a clever offering, a little reflection, but the overall energies of a summers day unfolding into the realities of our lives is easy to visualise here.

The fluency of an artist of David Lanz’s standard is of course something to both admire and respect, when you listen to a blissfully serene offering like Ponte del Amante, it is easy to see why he has such a massive reputation, and a vast well of admiration from other musicians, this is a very romantic composition, and perhaps one filled with a hope of love, and bridges that may need to be crossed along the way; a truly remarkable offering indeed.

The trickle down beginning on Angels Falling set the scene perfectly, the following melody and sublime flow on this deeply attractive arrangement was something incredibly artful and picturesque, and dropped into the mix a delicate sense of reverie too, and as I contemplated the tone and timbre, I was once more entranced by what is a film score standard composition.

Now we take a journey within a journey as the next 6 pieces form part of what is known as the Water Sign Suite, the powerful and full flowing Wonder Wave starts this secondary sojourn off with the artist, one that creates lush musical currents and drifts into the eddies of Raindancer Returns, a piece that contains such delicacy, and a wonderfully melodic and pristine performance as well.

Being born under a water sign myself it would come as no surprise that I adore rivers, something we do not have in abundance in Cyprus. As Rivers Flow is a confident dance between emotions, refrains of happiness and sadness can be found here, with a little touch of Cristofori into the weave for good measure too.

The astrological energies of this album have not gone unnoticed, and are exemplified further with one of the most stunning songs off the album entitled The Water Bearer. This Aquarian delight is a work of genius, boarding on the lines of the classical and possibly even soundtrack in style, but as always that deft Lanz pause and performance, guides the track to its classy conclusion.

This pure stream of musical wizardly continues with the charm filled and wonderfully warm opus of Moonlight Lake. This is a timeless composition of a glistening radiance and one to just float with whilst looking up at the night sky perhaps; this is one of those peaceful moments of a performance on piano you simply never want to end.

Our last stretch of water to be navigated is entitled Neptune Dancing and ends this proud and graceful 6 part suite. There is a mysterious mood built in here that is wonderfully compelling and addictive to listen to, one that retains a sense of a deep mood, built with true Lanz mastery is more than it seems, the energy is increased to manifest an almost pop styled classic, one that perfectly sums up the proceedings tracks that make up this amazing suite, please also listen to the very end of this track, and yes I mean the very end.

There are times when you hear something special, and every inch of your musical senses screams at you and yells, that you have just heard something that will always be remembered and forever played through time, and this is what I feel now as I wander through the hallowed halls of the heartfelt opus entitled If I Could Write A Million Songs, I would have to add in brackets to the title “And If I had, I would write them all for you” this will become a Lanz anthem, and a much cherished moment of musical magic for sure.

Helen Anaïs is our next port of call as we swim forever deeper within the realms of the album; Anais which I believe can trace its origins back to the word Grace could be very well named indeed, the graceful intent of this piece is like touching a fine crystal goblet and experiencing the resonance, this is a sublimely delicate, but poignant piece by the artist.

Our penultimate piece off the album is entitled My Little Moonbeams and has such a sweet childlike energy to its textures, with elements of movement and dance, one can almost detect a slight hint of Beatles within this composition to, which is very classy indeed. Lanz plays here with his heart on his sleeve, in a moment of pure gratitude and unabashed love.

So we are here, we can now dock our musical boat and prepare to leave this jetty of sound, but before we do so we can enjoy the last gift from the artist and it is entitled Lover's Waltz, there is an interesting segue from the last track to this piece that I found fascinating, and one bathed in a wonderfully complete blissful reverie of tenderness.

Water Sign by David Lanz is the album we all needed so desperately to lift us out of 2020 and into the arms of hope in something better. Lanz keeps moving onward and upward, his creational genius is unbound, and his masterful performances on the piano must have been what Cristofori was dreaming about. Water Sign is an album that is packed with such emotion, passion, and tenderness, and has to be one of the most honest performances on an album I have heard for ages.

Now The Silence By Juan Sanchez


Now The Silence


Juan Sanchez

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There are a small number of musicians, that when they play and perform, you sit there utterly mesmerized, now this is my first time listening to the work of Juan Sanchez, but after three listens to Now The Silence, I can see with ease he would fit into that masterful category, as a storyteller of musical class with great simplicity.

This journey of piano with added instrumentation starts with one of the most emotive compositions your likely to hear, and entitled Very Young Old Man. This title moves me, as it is how I see myself, I may be in my early sixties, but the man in the mirror is still the vibrant 30 year old that once was, this is the soundtrack to my mental perambulations of those far flung days of youth.

The gentleness on keyboards on Luz de Luna is simply divine, the fluency here is so crafted, and the added inclusion of strings manifests something as gentle as an early summer breeze, one that drifts across the mountains on the first glance of a moonlit evening, a track of outstanding natural beauty indeed.

Now The Silence, the title track of course is our next offering, for me this piece really caught my attention, and I keep coming back to its tones time after time. Here is a beautifully performed opus on piano and one that excels in its energy of a mysterious nature, a track that creates a meditative ambience, but at the same time a haunting refrain also.

We now move to a track that seemed familiar to me and entitled Alma, for me the strings once again enhanced the overall composition, and did so dramatically manifesting a piece that for me, would be film score standard; the repeating motif on piano drew an aged narrative, one also touched with the element of reflection.

We have now arrived at the half way juncture, and as we do so we come across a light and easy offering called Woolgathering. Sanchez’s memory palace of a performance once more crafts images of a nature theme, one so soothing to listen too, and so easy to draw images from.

Our first tentative footfall into the second half of the album comes courtesy of this piece entitled Tolworth. I know a location named as such in England, this is as lush as that locality. The most crafted element of this track is the utterly stunning symbiosis of piano and ethereal vocals.

It is interesting that this next composition is called Idyllic, as it is how I would describe the entire album in one word. The track however, is a moving opus of strings and piano, melded together with love and a heartfelt intention, this is a piece that will literally caress your emotions, and allow your sorrows to fly free.

We are in the deeper waters of this release now and as we glide on our musical boat within these musical currents, we come across one of the darker arrangements from the release entitled Remembrance. It is the musical equivalent of sitting alone on a hill in nature, and watching the late autumn clouds drift past, whilst remembering the days good and sad of your life, a deeply moving offering indeed.

Our penultimate track is also our shortest piece off the album and called Siempre, which I believe translated to English means, always. This is a simple but very effective dance of piano and strings, one that is so effective at drawing a profound sense of kindness and good intent from the musical narrative.

So we arrive at the very last doorway to this wonderfully fluent musical sojourn and it is called Blue Nights, which at just shy of 6 minutes, making this the longest track off the album.  Blue Nights is one of those tracks that as a musician you hope and pray for, a perfect ending arrangement to an album, and perhaps even one that sums up all the pieces that have preceded it, the good news is that it succeeds with ease, and allows us to leave the album with a sense of peace, tranquillity and calmness.

Now The Silence by Juan Sanchez has to be one of the most soothing musical journeys I have been on for quite some time, each and every track on the album has been crafted to such a pristine quality, and produced with such a deep care and attention to detail. Now The Silence by Juan Sanchez is that album you have been waiting for to accompany those moments of meditative bliss with ease.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Kisahkihitin I Love You By Rhonda Head


Kisahkihitin I Love You


Rhonda Head

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I needed a boost today after some early negative news, so to hear this simply beautiful song by Rhonda Head, not only elevated my mood, but made me smile, a smile of appreciation, after all it is not often I get to hear someone singing I Love You in Cree, such an honour and a treat.

Rhonda Head with Kisahkihitin I Love You has manifested something here that we all needed to hear now more than ever, and brought us back to the seeds of humanity to do it. Here is a song of love sung across the boundless and borderless musical realms of time, a smooth performance, a wonderful textured vocal, a symphonic backdrop and a calming piano, now you can’t ask for more than that can you.

Monday, January 11, 2021

The Eighth Fire By Vicki Logan


The Eighth Fire


Vicki Logan

Written by

Steve Sheppard


The music of Vicki Logan is always inspirational, she not only makes her flute sing, she makes it dance as well, and that is a perfect statement with which to describe this latest offering by the artist entitled The Eighth Fire. Here is a single bathed in the fires of a Native American energy, and forged in the flames of her expertise on flute.

Her passionate performance on this single is sublime, and with an utterly symbiotic percussion, it the is the driving force, the engine room of the piece, it’s vibrancy alone is guaranteed to manifest a huge hit in the singles chart with ease, and is a track that most seekers of stunningly good music would be proud to have within their respective collections.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Microcells By Claudio Casanueva




Claudio Casanueva

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There can be no doubt that Claudio Casanueva has to be one of them most prolific and talented composers and performers in the Electronic and Ambient music field today, and here we have a rarity as the artist gives us a standalone album of two beautiful and unique pieces entitled Microcells.

There are artists that just seem to have that magical ability to create vast soundscapes at will, very few have a far ranging talent like this, but I believe on Microcells, Casanueva is easily up there with the likes of the UK’s Kevin Kendle, and US keyboard supremo Jonn Serrie.

This two track offering is simply perfection and one can float within it with ease, Microcells Part 1 has utterly lush synths, filled full of a soothing narrative that is an absolute joy to sonically bathe within, there is also a memory filled tapestry of a blissful wonderment here, and all wrapped up in one of the warmest performances to date.

Microcells Part 2 of this grand opus is like being on a spaceship itself, with the audio chatter, references to Area 51 and some clever and creative slices of selected audio that fit this more EM based beginning. This is a journey that is fascinating, and in a way, it is almost like being inside a musical documentary, one that I found deeply intriguing and fascinating to listen to. This is electronic musical prowess at its very best, and a truly intelligent composition that floated across the great divide on the galaxy with such consummate ease.

Claudio Casanueva is an architect of sonic mastery, a master builder of tone, and a creator of all that is good and classy in this vast realm of electronic and ambient music. Microcells is a two track album of brilliance by the artist, long form it maybe, but trust me, place your head phones on, press start, and it will be a voyage of musical genius you will never want to come home from, space music at its very best indeed.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Haze on the Mountain By Eric Chapelle


Haze on the Mountain


Eric Chapelle

Written by

Steve Sheppard


This amazing new release by pianist and composer Eric Chapelle is a slice of musical genius that best sums up the start of this brand new year for me, if this is the standard of music that 2021 looks likely to offer, then it’s going to be one of the best years in the business I’ve had.

Chapelle is on a roll, and has once more has produced an extremely classy work with his new single Haze on the Mountain, a piece redolent of the subject matter, and I should know, I have two mountain ranges not that far from my home.

The flow is utterly beautiful, the composition, creation, symphonic gestures, string work and piano manifestations are sublime, with elements of Grieg’s Morning and even touches of Philip Glass. This is a master work by Eric Chapelle and a guaranteed Neo-Classical chart hit for certain, if I have ever heard one.