Monday, May 31, 2021

The Shelter Point By Javier Márquez


The Shelter Point


Javier Márquez

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There are sometimes, when you just know you are going to enjoy an album from the very first note played, that was the case today with the latest release from Javier Márquez entitled The Shelter Point.

From the very first note, we would be off on a journey of magnificence, and as an example of this crafted and creative intelligence we begin with a track called Around the autumn equinox, a piece that would exemplify the perfection in the art of build and progression within music.

The Celtic influences within the piece Childhood melodies were strong. The mixture of woodwind instrumentation, and piano here were quite charming and full flowing, and the smooth performance made this a really easy offering to listen to and enjoy.

Solace would be one of my favourites off the album, the pondering backdrop of sound created a stasis of tone that seemed to hover all around, without once invading the musical space created, by such a hand of genius. This is Neo Classical music at its very best, and those delicious added strings added even more emotion to the creation.

On Beyond Days, there is a wonderfully caring touch given to the arrangement that is much appreciated by the listener. The delicacy on the keys and the added guitar, manifested for me one of the most pristine pieces off the album, and a fine example of contemporary instrumental music as you’re ever likely to hear.

As we arrive at the midway point we have a smart and colourful short form reverie entitled Milenaria y nazarí, to sedge way us perfectly into the second half of the album, and that piece would be Through the wind, another great example of onward movement and progression in composition, and a track that raises the energies of the moment with a fine percussive beat, surrounded by a lush and colourful multi-instrumental countryside of musical tone and timbre.

The mood is calmed for this next piece entitled Bedouin. The Middle Eastern ethic is amazingly powerful, and I should know as I live on the island of Cyprus. We celebrate and enjoy many woodwind instruments here within many of our local and traditional music culture, so the Duduk and Bansuri are well known in this part of the world. The symphonic backdrop is quite stunning and at times quite alluring and sensual, and in my view this creation is a sublime example of really good atmospheric music.

Huellas de un pasado is another favourite of mine, the field recordings are something similar to ones I have captured from the villages in the mountains here, and are quite breathtakingly beautiful and scene setting, as is this piece. This is without doubt my personal favourite off the album, the progression, build and crescendos are timed to perfection, to give us an emotionally radiant feeling of utter bliss and empowerment, the vocalisations are also a wonderfully attractive addition to a track that is purely magical.

The penultimate offering is entitled Incessant. I found that here lies a piece of tranquillity and ambience, a composition that floated across the musical landscape like a willing summer cloud in later August. The multi-instrumental nature and especially the woodwind energies, manifested a wonderful sense of permanence of onward movement, and a colourful musical tapestry that just continued to grow and grow.

I think we all have one of these, I know I do, for me it’s my sanctuary, but the title track, and the name of this most amazing compilations of great tracks works for me; The Shelter Point is a manifestation of somewhere music can take you, that you no longer feel overwhelmed by the world and all that is in it.

The Shelter Point is a crafted collection of ten tracks, highlighting moments of musical reverie in a multi instrumental dimension, where woodwinds dance symbiotically with the piano, swing with the guitar and caress the movement found within with the percussion. The Shelter Point by Javier Márquez is an album that is a rich and emotive manifestation of compositional brilliance, and a melodic magnificence of a creative genius, all rolled into one.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Heart Awakening (the album) By Shambhu


Heart Awakening



Written by

Steve Sheppard


There is a time in the later afternoon, when all you wish to do is kick back and enjoy the evening sunset, and pay homage to the day gone and all the lessons learned, the soundtrack to those mental perambulations would be well served by featuring Heart Awakening by Shambhu as the playlist for that mindful movie.

The opener is the hit single and title track Heart Awakening, one of the most smooth and serene compositions around today, and one that features a slice of ambient and sultry guitar, by a man who can be described as a master of mindful music.

The guitar of Shambhu ushers in another big single as track two, and entitled Infinite Eyes begins to play. One must also enjoy the symbiotic partnerships created by the artist, utilising such crafted talents as Geoffrey Menin on piano and the delicate skill set on electric guitar of Matteo Palmer.

The very smooth arrangement of Preparing for Flight is up next, and its quality light Jazzy vibes drift across the room, and caresses the last shards of the day’s dappled sunlight. This is one very classy piece, one that shows the perfect mixture of new age acoustic guitar and Jazz, with an effect that is utterly blissful.

The penultimate offering from the album is entitled Little B's Poem; again that Jazz ethic is there, and weaved with a similar skill set that Dutch band Focus employed back in the late 70’s, with a layered arrangement and some quite incredibly attractive guitar and piano pieces; without doubt one of the most complex tracks off the album, but one well worth listening to many times over, to enjoy each and every subtle nuance.

The continuance of cool continues with the last track off the album and entitled Song for You. I must admit, this is such a perfect way to conclude what has been a perfectly serene and laid back release, and we can also salute the band of individuals that joined the artist to manifest a simply idyllic album, so hats off to Premik Russel Tubbs (Soprano and Alto Sax and flutes), Celso Alberti (Drums and Percussion) Frank Martin (Piano), Todd Boston (Percussion), and of course the aforementioned Menin and Palmer.

Heart Awakening by Shambhu is another charming collection of serene compositions that are so blissful; one could literally drift on a bed of musical clouds whilst listening. Shambhu is such a master creator of smooth and tranquil tones, and Heart Awakening is one of those albums that will leave you smiling with utter happiness at its conclusion, perhaps even music to make your life complete, and of course, a guaranteed huge chart hit surely.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Red Rose By Amy Wallace


Red Rose


Amy Wallace

Written by

Steve Sheppard


The progression of this stunning new single Red Rose by Amy Wallace is something to behold and admire, the symphonic backdrop is deeply colourful, as are the most heartfelt lyrics; and Wallace has a voice that will embrace an angel’s heart and wash the tears from its eyes.

This moving  arrangement and song is something that will raise the hairs on your arms, and bring a tear of love to the corner of your eye, this reflective beautiful and creative new song is destined for greatness, and the vocal performance by Amy Wallace on Red Rose is simply sublime and wonderfully spectacular.

Hope By Lisa Cullum




Lisa Cullum

Written by

Steve Sheppard


The gentle and heartfelt piano of Lisa Cullum delivers us a beautiful new single entitled Hope. The stringed backdrop to her presentation on piano adds such a wonderful dimension to this new creation, so much so that it creates nothing less than a bliss filled reverie of calm and peace.

This is music for the weary soul, and all done with a marvellous and well thought-out performance by the artist; the balance of this arrangement is so well crafted and accessible to all who wish to listen to its textured transcendent tones, it is music like this that gives us all hope, and I can see this one reaching for the stars in the charts.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Shapes Vol 2 By Marcello Liverani


Shapes Vol 2


Marcello Liverani

Written by

Steve Sheppard


The unique qualities of a musician can usually be felt and heard within the first few bars of a composition, and with this new release by Marcello Liverani entitled Shapes Vol 2, this is a wonderfully accurate statement to make. These special tones that go into making this truly splendid album are very unique indeed.

Losing Gravity (Lo- Fi Piano Tapes) is a fine start, almost a cross between ambient music mixed with a slight minimalism built into the weave, and then an impressive build and progression leads us onward; this is one of those pieces that several listens will be required to enjoy every single nuance of the arrangement.

On Birdhouse there is a wonderful effervescent opening that literally flies right at you, and all around you. The keyboards and the electronic energies of this piece were filled with a mood of anticipation and creativity, the progression towards the conclusion at the three quarter mark is deeply impressive, and thoroughly listenable.

The longest track off the album is called Approaching Light, this would be one of my personal favourites off the release, the light but encapsulating keyboards manifested a many faceted construct to the piece, and one was literally flowing with the arrangement to see where it would go too next. The very gentle escalation and the added ethereal vocalisations, made this for me easily the best track off the album, and one of the best mood creating offerings I have heard in any genre for quite a time.

The gentle piano skills on Close (Lo fi Piano tapes) are up next, and Marcello Liverani gifts us a truly reflective composition of deep reflection and memory. The performance here is similar to U.S. ambient pianist Michael Harrison in tone, and its cleverness allows the listener to draw their own imaginative narrative along the way.

The Breathless Crowd is our penultimate offering and delivers to our musical door another offering that builds as gently as it goes, the main piano segment is the chief narrator, and all around the central theme, this backdrop of a film styled sound track weaves is ever addictive spell, a fine opus to enjoy indeed.

Our final doorway to the conclusion of the album is the piece This Endless Pain, a well of sadness can be dived into deeply here, as the mood set from the very beginning is very poignant and emotionally powerful. The piano and keyboards of Marcello Liverani are masterful here on manifesting a final ending offering that is so emotive and reflective.

Shapes Vol 2 by Marcello Liverani has to be one of the most listenable ambient creations on keyboards and piano I have had to the pleasure of listening to for quite some time. Liverani’s skill set at manifesting moving constructs of extremely artistic contemporary instrumental music is simply amazing, and this timeless compilation of excellent arrangements will live on forever in the hearts and minds of those who love really superb music.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Unknown Faces By Mark Pinkus


Unknown Faces


Mark Pinkus

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There is nothing quite like the fluent genius of a Mark Pinkus release, the Canadian born composer and performer has been on my musical radar now for some 20 years, and with each release more beauty of composition is created, with this brand new offering entitled Unknown Faces, we have one of the most colourful and powerful collections of solo piano arrangements yet.

This 17 track exhibition of solo pieces is outstanding; take songs like the sparkling reverie of Came Back to Life as an example, or the moving opus that is A Cry for Peace, a composition that seems to have been created from the artists very own desire for the subject matter, and without doubt one of the most moving tracks off the album.

Nestled just around the half way marker is another personal favourite of mine, and called Little Black Heart, the reflective nuances here were simply amazing, and Pinkus’s performance on this composition alone would have gained a standing ovation with ease, mix that with a topical subject at the moment as we listen to the arrangement Isolation. There is true darkness about this piece that is compelling, but also strangely cathartic.

My next chosen piece is a fine presentation of what we all need right now, and called Inner Strength. This is a curious, yet inventive offering, almost in tone and energy to an anthem, but with a layer of sensitivity built into the weave of the song as well.

Unknown Faces by Mark Pinkus would be in my view the artists best work to date, he has captured those all-important reflective and emotional nuances perfectly, and manifested a vast collection of solo piano compositions, that are completely accessible to all who just love really good music, and appreciate the hard work and dedication put in to achieve such a wonderful goal.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Balance By Jonny Lipford




Jonny Lipford

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Balance must have been my key word to work with and to try and achieve for at least the last 20 years, so this new release by Jonny Lipford could well be the soundtrack for my attempts over those decades, the album is light and energetically cathartic, and perfect to raise the spirits and mood of all who listen.

The percussion and flute lead a symbiotic dance in the opening offering entitled Sun Salutation, while the hovering intensity of Believing Your Truth manifests a superb sense of deep power and intent, the truth is undeniable, in the same way as this composition is too.

The steady percussive beat of one of my personal favourites off the album is entitled Living Your Power, it creates a tranquil, yet purposeful resonance within the heart, whilst tracks like Nurturing Your Word and Enlightening Your Spirit, bring a reality of enlightenment, tranquillity and serenity into the proceedings; the charm and addictive quality of this release is all too palpable, and deliciously listenable in all ways.

The conclusion to this album is entitled Moon Salutation, and a better choice you could not find to end, what is a beautifully constructed flute based album, of a pristine and heartfelt nature.

Balance by Jonny Lipford has to be one of the most healing albums within the flute genre I have heard for quite some time, each and every arrangement has been carefully manifested to bring you, the ever eager listener, simply the best listening experience ever.

Balance by Jonny Lipford is a textured and layered compilation of sublime flute and multi-instrumental performances, which will live on forever and bring much peace and calm whilst doing so.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Closer to Home By Sensitive Chaos


Closer to Home


Sensitive Chaos

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I remember way back in 2011 Jim Combs contacting me with regard to the release of Seeker After Patterns, I felt back then he had something unique to give to the world of electronic music, and throughout the years that have passed since then, and with the release of this his vast new work entitled Closer To Home, it seems I was right.

Unique has been joined now by greatness, as this new release stands tall and proud and contains a fine array of added musicians to help the cause, take the opener for example, a fine mix of electronica meets Jazz and you have Fauna Funk Fusion. The brass section is impressive, Combs doubly so, and proves the symbiotic collaboration of a multi-instrumental nature works perfectly to gift us our first very classy offering.

The more traditional stamping ground of electronic mastery for Jim Combs can be found on the track Snow Laughing Matter, this was one of many personal favourites from the album, and includes the beautiful voice of Diane Arkenstone, and incorporating the single most inspired performance on keyboards by Combs, couple this with both Brian Good and Brian Donohoe with a fine brass construction, and you have a sublime winner of a piece.

We now go short form with the piece Fort Hamilton Parkway - Prospect Park, the footsteps create a sense of mystery and the wind rushes around us now, if there is one thing I appreciate it is the skill of capturing really good field recordings, it is something I adore in my musical compositions as well. Here the Crow plays with the wind, and the streams leads us onward forever, whilst above a plane flies into infinity, utter ambience and quite magical.

Backyard Limbo is our next port of call, the guitar of Tom Carleno features here and adds a nice texture to the piece, one that dances perfectly with the keyboards and drum machines of Combs. If you ever wanted an example of how to build and progress an arrangement, then this one is a perfect example of just how to do that.

On Cosmic Tune-up you have just that a field recording of an orchestra tuning up, but that does lead us perfectly into Cosmic Orchestra, one of the most ambient pieces off the album, and another favourite of mine. Utilising the talents of Josie Quick on Violin, Brian Donohoe on Tenor Sax and one heck of a crafted and sensitive performance on percussion by Mitchell Sosebee, you have a combination of greatness that manifests a smooth and really chilled composition.

One of the longest tracks on the album at just over the 15 minutes is Fast Driving Open Road, but not the longest; we shall save that until last. The tempo and style here is perfect, and reminds me in content of some of the early chill out music we used to hear from the Buddha Bar back in the day. This is really idyllic and without deliberately using a pun, right down Combs road, using for the first time synth king Paul Nagle and Ryan Taylor on Bass, Combs creates a truly quality long-form chilled arrangement of wonderful class and classic structures.

The title track is up next, and Closer to Home continues this wonderful weave of unique electronic music ambience and creative vibes, to enthral us with the tone and timbre in between the weave of the composition. The slow and mood filled beginning reminded me greatly of old UK EM band Code Indigo in parts, the synths here were simply amazing, as was the returning brass sections of Brian Good on Soprano Sax, this for me is what title tracks should all be about, the main canvas to illustrate the overall concept, and achieved brilliantly by Combs.

As we move into the deep waters of the release we come across an offering entitled As Night Unfolds. A wonderful subject to get ones musical teeth into so to speak, and Combs does that with such a delicate yet onward construction, that it literally lays itself open to the hours of darkness ahead. The collective element is strong here, and Combs the master narrator is in full musical bloom, in a radiance as bright as the moon itself.

The penultimate offering has a soft and soothing passage in its early stages and entitled Watching Embers Glow. Combs work is very pictorial and his story telling narrative and constructive artistic abilities are very compelling. This is one of those ambient constructs that I could literally listen to for hours, maybe even while embers are glowing upon a winter fire.

The curiously entitled Kimono My Bliss is the last doorway of the album, and one of the longest ending pieces I think I have ever heard at just over half an hour in duration. However that hovering intensity on keyboards by the artist is certainly scene setting and mood filled. The build and progression here is so wonderfully splendid that when we reach the half way marker of the track we literally feel lifted by Combs brilliant synths, and on its conclusion one will feel so soothed and calmed by its tones and peace filled vibes.

Closer to Home by Sensitive Chaos is easily the best body of work the artist has thus far created; surrounding himself with a fine array of classy musicians has helped created a field of vision within this album that is utterly vast and deeply compelling. Closer to Home by Sensitive Chaos is the complete deal of an album, it is a recording that will sit in the annals of musical time, as the artists seminal piece in the industry, it is that good.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Voices of Wind By Scott Lawlor


Voices of Wind


Scott Lawlor

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Scott Lawlor has been producing some very emotive material for some years now, and with each release comes a steady evolution of style and construction, now with this his latest release Voices of Wind, probably sees his best work thus far reach the forum of this vast world of instrumental music.

The opening piece is indeed the proud title track Voices of Wind, here Lawlor creates something that the imagination can truly grasp and hold audience with, for those of us who have listened to the winds of time caressing the strength of a timeless tree, they will understand the incredibly powerful resonance of this track, the moving keyboard performance and the quite emotional voices in the wind on this piece, make it one of the best compositions I have ever heard from the artist.

Awaken in Dreams is our next piece, the audience of angelic voices breathes a harmonic tone across this dimension of tide and time, whilst Lawlor’s hovering keyboards draw a mist filled horizon upon which dance memories of the past, present and future. The added percussion is a brilliant addition that adds a film score sounding narrative to the proceedings.

The curiously entitled False Smiles in the Nightclub is up next, the mood here is actually quite tense, having not been to a night club for a few years, the last time I did, it had a level of tension and sharpness that I really didn’t feel comfortable with, not that my experiences have anything to do with Lawlor’s composition, just an observation. However that energy is here, of falseness in false circumstances and surroundings, and one has to admit cleverly portrayed by the artist.

The tone changes completely with this next offering entitled The Calm of a Kiss. Within this offering one can find a serene sense of bliss that is very appealing, the production quality on this piece was simply fantastic, a smooth and almost sultry song, that contained the essence of light percussion and a delicate and tender guitar.

A chorus of nature angels bring in the next song entitled Harvest Moon, this one captured my imagination, and with an eagerness I bathed within its realms for a splendid twelve minutes plus. The guitar and vocalisations were idyllic, and the ambience that the arrangement exuded was simply perfect, the track itself just making the occasional adjustment when needed, and the slight but clever elevation of energy towards the middle section, which reminded me in parts of U.S. Contemporary Instrumental artist Holland Phillips, was transcendent.

As we move deeper into this realm of electronic genius created by Scott Lawlor, we come across another particular favourite of mine and called A Crescendo of Silence. The ethereal qualities of this piece made it another stand out offering from the album, and one that I can see myself playing a multitude of times, and then that crafted floating energy on keyboards drifted around us all with a delicacy you would expect from world renowned artist like electronic supremo Kevin Kendle.

The Touching is a Bridge Between the Afterlife and the World Which You Left Behind is up next, this opus is what I would personally call a masterpiece of compositional structures and manifestations, a wonderful drifting sense of ambience can be found from the opening of the track, which with ease has one of the longest titles I have known, but not the longest. Once more the keyboards of Lawlor seem to swirl and dance with the female vocalisations, creating an arrangement of tenderness, but one that is without a doubt a musical vehicle of healing, and a journey cathartic in nature.

The longest track off the album at just shy of 14 minutes is a reprise of the opening offering and entitled The Pain of Blossoming (Reimagined, Live, April 30, 2021). This is a wonderfully clever idea and brings to conclusion a truly brilliant album.

Voices of Wind by Scott Lawlor has to be the artist’s best work so far. This is a far reaching body of work that is so beautifully accessible to all who listen; this will become an esteemed collection of great compositions that in my humble view could be regarded one day, as the seminal work of Scott Lawlor as a musician. Voices of Wind by Scott Lawlor is a must purchase album at all costs, and one of the best works of electronic music I have heard for many years.

Oak Hands By Andrea Sertori


Oak Hands


Andrea Sertori

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Sometimes you hear a piece of music, and you don’t know exactly what it is, but you absolutely love it, now reviewing this new single Oak Hands by Andrea Sertori, I can dive in deeper to what makes this a really good solo piano single.

The performance on this short form musical narrative has a real depth of passion, but that is also cleverly counterpointed by sensitive and delicate passages and performance. There is also a sense of warmth here that comes from this offering that makes it so appealing, and one that I would imagine would bring a really good placement in the charts for the artist too.

Contemplating By Stephen Weber




Stephen Weber

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Stephen Weber has become a true break out star in the instrumental and new age music genres, his muse is working overtime and in all of them at the moment, and on this, his latest single Contemplating, he hits the mark once with a sensitive and most caring performance indeed.

The presentation here is spotless and utterly beautiful to listen to, Weber’s sublime fluency on the keys is something to truly look forward to and enjoy, and I can only foresee more good things heading the way of Stephen Weber in the guise of another big hit with Contemplating.

Dream Illumination by Seay


Dream Illumination



Written by

Steve Sheppard


Sometimes you come across a single that is so beautiful and produced with such care that you simply want to hug the music and lay in its tone of comfort forever, this aptly describes the latest song from New Age star Seay, a lady who has been producing high end quality music for many years now.

The harmonic nature of this single entitled Dream Illumination has been crafted with such care and attention to detail, the angelic vocalisations and hovering keyboards have truly manifested something which will forever retain energies of a timelessness, and sense of deep bliss, and is available in 3 different formats to: Dolby Atmos, 3D Binaural and Ultra HD too.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Acoustic Works Volume 3 By Mike Ian


Acoustic Works Volume 3


Mike Ian

Written by

Steve Sheppard


The colourful work of Mike Ian is once again in great abundance around us all as we listen to Acoustic Works Volume 3, the latest in fine acoustic performances by the artist on his most trusty guitar.

The start of this release is the full flowing opus entitled Open Road; this sun kissed reverie is full of positivity and natural major chord progressions, and the latter half of this most bright of opening forays, even had a slight Beatles feel to the conclusion of the piece as well, the perfect opener indeed.

One of my favourite tracks would turn out to be Thy Jester's Fate full of glorious sixteenth century energy. One could drift back through the annals of time to enjoy such a piece, and a track that reminded me in parts of something, that the new age of Ritchie Blackmore might enjoy performing too.

I have a question, May I Have This Dance? Why thank you, and as we glide across the floor one can feel the warmth of a new and exciting love growing from within the music, a beautiful performance on acoustic can be had here, one that flows with passion, and also mixed quite brilliantly with a heartfelt embrace as well.

Far from the lands where I live, there is a place I have wondered if I would ever visit, it has held a great fascination for me, and called Sedona. This is such a light composition, it is one that you could leave on all afternoon and not notice, and the slide effect added a wonderfully glowing energy to the music as well.

Nothing like a little rag to liven things up, and Ian, with his fun packed ditty entitled 12th Street Rag does just that, and leads us perfectly into the next piece called, West Of The Moon, a track with such a wonderful sense of movement and texture to its construction, it is a delight to hit the repeat button with.

Although we are a long way off, the months of the fall are some of my favourite, and Autumn Dew has to be one of the nicest tracks I have heard that depicts this time of many changes. The performance is reflective but crisp, and one that seems through its tone to radiate a multitude of colour all around us, a truly marvellous offering indeed.

There was a certain depth to Canyon Song that I loved; the slowness of the tempo also added a lazy feel to the mood, this chilled composition just seems to flow like a gentle summer stream from the artist’s guitar with such great ease.

Changing the mood is done with great simplicity here, as we come across the next song entitled Skippin' Town; its finger picking style reminds me of acoustic performer Bob Ardern in flavour. The fluency of this piece is exciting and brings a superb sense of onward movement to the offering.

Now, 1300 miles north of me is a country that features in this next quite beautiful song, and is entitled Strings of Belarus. The mood is captured perfectly here with a slow and almost sensual performance by the artist, which portrays the Eastern European counties rich and colourful history with such style.

A more folk styled ethic can be found on this next piece entitled Missouri Grains. There is a sense of summer here in this composition that gives a wide open musical field and lands for the listener to roam within. The gentle and caring presentation here is something to truly enjoy.

The title of this next piece came up the other day in a TV show I watch and called Pig in a Poke, but I will let you have fun exploring that on the net. In the meantime Mike Ian creates another fun musical narrative for us to enjoy, before we reach the penultimate offering off the album.

That last but one composition is called And in the End, the arrangement is slow and as easy as Sunday morning, and Ian’s warmth of performance will brighten your day with this cheer filled narrative.

So finally we can knock on the door of the last track off this 14 piece album and is called Journey's End, with the slide and percussive additions we have once again a little more of a folk styled ethic upon our table to enjoy, but the compositional structure and its lightness in depth and arrangement, make this a divine way to end what has been quite a breath taking journey of acoustic magic.

Acoustic Works Volume 3 by Mike Ian is the album that the acoustic genre needed; it is a shot in the arm, using the energies of positivity, production quality and sublime performances that we have needed for quite some time, and the wonderfully fluent and classy presentations upon this highly rated release should be extremely popular with fans of really good music, who simply want their day lifted and their musical souls filled with joy.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Spirit Voices By Ken Talaga


Spirit Voices


Ken Talaga

Written by

Steve Sheppard


This is one of those albums that with great synchronicity pass your path and you are most grateful for it. Spirit Voices illustrates that spirit energy is all around us and within us, all we need is the awareness and presence of being to realise this, and Spirit Voices by Ken Talaga is a great backdrop to investigate and explore some more.

The opening piece is a wonderful start to our sojourn in the realm of spirituality and entitled Spirit Within, we are all one and spiritual beings on a human journey. The flute and gentle percussion here highlight the essence and rhythm of life’s true path.

There are several long form pieces on this album which is superb, as music of this style needs to be given time to float in and around our imagination, and embrace a meditative state that will only emphasise this music further. This track is most certainly one of those pieces, the hypnotic drum beat and mesmeric flute on Looking for Others is sublime at creating this mood.

Listening to this album I am tempted to ask Chrissie to get her flute, and for me to pull down my Native American drum from its peg and just play from the heart, if you add a shaker into the mix, this is exactly what is occurring on the song Rousing the Elk, a powerful animal indeed, representing strength and endurance among other most noble traits, and this extremely powerful offering with a deep drum beat, and a light flute, raises the spirit energy of this animals power with great ease, try listening to this with headphones on and you can feel the beat within your own chest.

One of my favourite spirit animals to work with, and one that many people fear for the wrong reasons is the Raven, and on Raven Trance we have a wonderfully fluent flute which leads the dance. I must also applaud the percussion here as it gives a graphically redolent picture of a Ravens wings flapping on the summer night breeze, whilst the natural sounds are simply perfect, creating the opening to witness the prophecy and insight of this spirit totem.

The longest piece off the album at well over 11 minutes long is the delightful In the Hall of 7 Springs. This is one of those sumptuous long form offerings you will just simply want to lay back and enjoy. The distant flute and gentle percussion, including a singing bowl, make this an idyllic meditative composition to drift off and away with.

Beltane Awakens is our first port of call as we set footfall into the latter part of the album. Spring is at its peak on May first, and we can celebrate the vibrancy and fertility of our lands at this time. Once more the flute is beautifully creating the musical narrative here, but the percussion takes up the role of time keeper with its ever perfect and rhythmic nature.

Bells and gongs chime, and from that tone and timbre we conclude that we have arrived at the Temple itself. The organic nature of this album is evident, but done so very well. The resonance with which this track has been created is sublime and crafted perfectly, to once again manifest a somewhat powerful and energetic meditational offering to swim with.

The trance like structure of Voice of Lilith is incredibly deep, yet incredibly rhythmic, and almost sensual to listen too, there is a certain middle eastern vibe here that lays within the constructs of the arrangement, and is a piece that will pull the listener in, whilst time pales into an insignificance.

The penultimate composition is Winter Solstice, the percussive qualities here literally dance in a symbiotic style with the flute, and manifest a perfect depiction of a time of the "sun's rebirth.” The winter solstice and celebrations can honour the symbolism of fire and light, along with life, death, the rising sun, and the moon. Listen to the brilliant combination of drum and flute here; it is like they are one instrument.

Our final doorway to this crafted dimension of tone and energy is entitled Spirit to Spirit, a clever Owl sound greets us, whilst careful chimes and a floating flute spins around us, and hovers within our realm to gather energy of a meeting of the minds. This is a fine way to leave the album and a perfect conclusion to our spiritual journey.

Spirit Voices by Ken Talaga is a beautifully constructed release that contains tracks that will gently take you on a journey, lead you by the hand and be your constant guide along the way. This album is almost like one long spirit journey, and one could see this entire offering being used for a meditation, or spirit walking journey as such. The performances by Ken Talaga on this album are utterly superb, he creates an album that is accessible to all who have an open heart and are open minded enough to listen, and an album that I personally loved and thoroughly recommend.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Return Of The Star Elders By Lia Scallon


Return Of The Star Elders


Lia Scallon

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There is much to be found on this great, vast body of work entitled Return Of The Star Elders, by Lia Scallon.  We could start with the beautiful production that makes this album so compelling to listen to, we must also mention the narrative of the return of our star elders, which is breathtakingly well portrayed and beautifully illustrated, especially on tracks like Arrival Of The Star Elders, which contains a lush tapestry of instrumentation, an idyllic flute and Scallon’s wonderfully spiritual vocalese.

The narrative of this classic new age album is addictive, and one that takes us to various spiritual hot spots around the globe, such as Isle Of The Druids, where one can find a delicate and layered musical pastiche, a plethora of divine instrumental beauty, and the natural sounds of a coastline that begs to be visited by the siren like vocals of Scallon herself.

This is one of those albums that you will start to listen to with intent to note specific moments and textures, and then you will find yourself getting totally lost within the entire concept and project, and simply put, time then becomes meaningless.

A good example of the aforementioned comment could be found in the track Return To Lemuria, I found myself drifting across vast oceans of utter awareness and tranquillity listening to this offering, so much so that I had to listen a few times to transcribe my thoughts at all, a thoroughly hypnotic piece indeed, one that is so beautiful, and one that caressed great emotions from me as I wrote.

There can be no doubt that this is probably the best body of work created by Lia Scallon thus far, Return Of The Star Elders is a sublime collection of transcendent arrangements that have been wonderfully channelled and beautifully presented, and Scallon must also be applauded for making this entire narrative utterly accessible to all who have an open mind, a keen and generous heart, and a willingness and wish to listen to an album of sublime mystery, grace, colour and utterly wonderful fluent content.

Wayfinding By Christof R Davis




Christof R Davis

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I found this latest album by Christof R Davis, very close to my own heart, and to the style of music that I too like composing, one that is ambient in nature, heartfelt, bathed in possibility, and floating on a sea of memories, with beautiful colours and textures along the way.

Wayfinding is a truly splendid album, I am a very avid walker myself, and here in Cyprus I am keen, now lockdown is finally over, to take this music with me as I go for a costal walk or two, it would be idyllic and wonderfully redolent of the moment.

My favourite offerings are two tracks that find themselves back to back, and are so colourful and artistic in composition, I refer of course to the arrangements of Orienteering, a piece bathed in the aspects of a new day and the journey ahead, with hovering keyboards and a clever build and progression, and then the sun kissed reverie of Dreaming, this piece would have been perfect for the days when I used to roam the Isle Of Wight with map in hand, the delicacy but mood filled creation on keyboards on this piece is simply amazing.

I must admit this is one of those scenic releases that I can never get enough of. We have a slight musical elevation of tone in Migration, with the pin point sense of movement created, and then the all-embracing keyboards of Davis manifest one of the most emotional pieces off the album called Reunion; time has passed, suns have set, and here you are, still waiting for me, so very beautiful indeed, and may I add, wonderfully played as well.

Wayfinding by Christof R Davis has to be one of, if not the most, reflective, compelling and bright offerings from the so called ambient and new age genres I have heard for quite some time, it is a release of utter blissfulness and tone, and an album that has that much adored and sought after quality, in that it is born into this world as a timeless masterpiece of musically crafted intelligence, and as such, it is so easily recommended.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Along The Way By Melany Thompson


Along The Way


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



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


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.