Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Longings By Randal L Meek

 


Longings

By

Randal L Meek

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The sound of an acoustic guitar played from the heart must be one of the most expressive instruments to pay homage too, on this new 13 track release Randal L Meek plays from his heart to yours, and his new album entitled Longings will find a similar motif of familiarity within each and every one of us with an open mind to totally embrace life for what it really is, an experience.

I know many finger style guitarists, but when one speaks guitar you probably have to work down from the king, Mr Will Ackerman, with that being said it is a joyful thing to know that this marvellous album has been recorded and produced at Imaginary Road studios, by the master and his court of accomplished artists.

Waves of Makena was for me a perfect opener, I have just been for a walk to watch the winter waves of the ocean crash upon the rocks and what a sight it is, in summer time it is a glorious view and this wonderful presentation by Meek is simply idyllic, and its charm filled narrative resonates with me in that moment.

On Goodbye the masterful Charlie Bisharat joins Meek in producing one of the most emotive pieces from the album, and this gentle, if not tearful tune, is a reminder to say goodbye, and if you cannot do so, the minor refrains in this piece will ease that furrowed brow with a sigh, so that one may take solace in the good times once had. I must be totally honest, this is rare, but I was moved to actual tears by this incredible offering.

Surround yourself with quality and the result of your endeavours will be doubly so, to back that statement up listen to this next offering entitled Mo'olio Place, whilst I have never been to Hawaii I can imagine it to be not too dissimilar to the paradise I call home here in Cyprus, and the calm that this specific composition brings is something quite soothing and tranquil, and while we’re at it lets pay tribute to Will Ackerman, who features on this very offering.

I found this next arrangement fascinating, it is called Ice Tulip, and for some reason it brought back many memories of different styles and genres from over many decades, there was also a sense of happiness to this track that filled me with glee, a spring time reverie indeed.

As we move ever onwards we come across this next piece entitled Boulder Sunrise.  This is a truly laid back offering, one that also contains the masterful expertise of a certain Eugene Friesen, this slow but ever moving opus crawls over the top of the ridge of the mountain as sunsets just love to do, with a maximum of artistic expression; also pay note to the beautiful angelic vocalisations from Noah Wilding.

For some reason I felt compelled to play this one on repeat for a while before writing about the said composition, I will be honest it transfixed me, I drifted away into this world of complete and utter serenity, if this is what Spirit Rising is meant to do then it succeeded, featuring a deliciously sensitive bass courtesy of Tom Eaton, this has to be one of my favourite pieces off the album, in a track filled with a mournful repose, but most importantly, hope.

I smile with joy, I love rivers and here we have a song about one and called River Dream, which is something I do; it does seem strange to me that a person like me who loves rivers, now lives in a country where there are none, until our winter storms, but I can dream, and I can do so to this charming offering, this is one of those halcyon moments of utter musical bliss that one finds from time to time.

Desert Cathedrals fascinated me deeply; I admire the artist that with guitar in hand, he originally created this piece whist sitting of a southern rock cliff in Utah! The added violin segment from Bisharat was stunning and added such a vastness to the proceedings.

There is always a point in an album that you feel that you are being taken on a brand new journey of sorts. I found this laying within the tranquil refrains of this next piece called Calm Skies. Ah such a blissful thought, just to lay in a summer meadow and watch the peace of a lightly clouded sky drift by on a bed of Jasmin wafted scents. Yes here represented for me a track of natural and outstanding beauty, one that also contained the skill sets of both Ackerman and Friesen.

I can usually tell if I am into an album or not by realising that I had forgotten to save the work I had done so far, so with that done it was back to my romantic reveries with the acoustic brilliance of Randel L Meek and this glourious sojourn into a whole universe of peace and harmony, which could also describe this light-hearted song called Prairie Dog Sky.

Our wonderful title track is up next and of course I am referring to Longings. I looked at the albums cover and thought to myself what a simple but so very effective piece of art work, I spent many months sitting on a bench looking out at the ocean  just like this, while I ruminated over sad events in my past and turbulent troubles of yesteryear, all would eventually be solved, but I remember it well, and for me Meeks sublime composition is almost like the soundtrack for that very moment,  a gentle performance, an artistic expression of longing, just one more moment perhaps, but thankfully music is the panacea that cures all ills and allows us to move on.

The penultimate track off this quite amazing new album is called Dave's Song, a dedication to a true friend no doubt and one performed with the lightness of an open heart and a gentleness of spirit.

The journey has been a long, but an incredibly pleasant one, and to conclude it we finalise our musical voyage with a track called Liliko'i, (Passion Fruit), this is probably one of the finest examples of Meeks utter fluency and colourfully artistic genius as a guitarist and of course a composer, a fine way to sum up this crafted collection of fine songs.

Longings by Randal L Meek in my view is one of the best acoustic guitar based albums I think I have heard for the last few years, each song is penned with such emotion and dedication to crafting just the perfect compositions to represent his own expressions. Longings by Randal L Meek is an album that I am proud to have in my collection as I hope it will be yours too, this is acoustic based guitar music at its very best.


Monday, January 17, 2022

Out of the Mist By Tim Sadow & Mike Kopp

 


Out of the Mist

By

Tim Sadow & Mike Kopp

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

What the entire planet needs now more than ever is to be lifted out of the malaise it has fallen into, and it just could be that Out Of the Mist by Tim Sadow & Mike Kopp is the latest release that could be the flag bearer for those better days ahead, here is an album that is both fluent and energetic, and will leave the listener with a satisfied smile upon their faces, perhaps even one of hope.

The reason for my abundance of cheer began with the uplifting musical narrative entitled A Kite's Tale, one could with ease visualise the beauty of the moment through the classy performance from two men who have become known for their most accomplished performances on guitar, violin and viola. 

That happy positivity is continued with this next piece called Song of the Circle, but added here is a fine layer of calm and tranquillity, the strings of Sadow manifest a green meadow to lay down upon, whilst Kopp’s guitar creates a warm pastiche of colour to utterly enjoy, this is a wonderful feel good moment indeed.

I loved the added jazzy motifs of this next track entitled Desperate Measures, a great title that leaves much to the imagination, and the minor chord structures add a layer of intense intrigue upon the pathways of the arrangement, this is a truly clever piece that deserves multiple listens, just to understand and revel in all the nuances that can be found within this offering.

One of my personal favourites would be the following piece entitled Dance of the Leaves. The sensitive structures and arrangements created a warm approach, but one that contains a bed of reflective nuances, perhaps of both summer and autumn, when leaves both dance, but in differing ways, there was also a wonderful imploring nature to this piece, that the breath taking strings of Sadow brought to the table beautifully, and indeed danced with Kopp’s magical guitar with ease.

I always adore songs about rivers, they are, or were a huge passion of mine, having spent so many years in, on, and around them. Here on As the River Runs, the partnership on Kopp and Sadow blooms like an early abundant April morning, the guitar of Kopp manifests its finest work on this cheer filled musical narrative, one of positivity and vibrational freedom as we flow with pleasure down the river of life’s rich pattern.

On To Speak of Love we have a creation of an entirely different colour, the strings of Sadow move around Kopp’s crafted performance, to bring us a truly heart felt musical portrayal in fine style. There is a flowing movement here that is also deeply compelling, and the structure of this arrangement is cleverly orchestrated to bring us something meaningful and sincere to enjoy.

I had these the other night, Pins and Needles, however this seriously is a wonderful moment of fun, and a symbiotic moment of energy, one that flows from its boundaries like a flower eager to burst into life at the first feel of a spring sun. The power and performance here by both artists manifests something creatively sun kissed and happy for us all to enjoy.

Our penultimate piece was also a personal favourite of mine and apart from having a sublime title called Behind the Waterfall; we see a very classy performance by Kopp on guitar that drifts some amazing guitar across the radius of our minds eye. There is an interesting interplay here between the two artists, one that could very well have created a traditional folk styled ethic that will be remembered for eons.

To conclude this simply marvellous release we go to a composition called Space Chatter, a totally different style for us to enjoy now, and a very surprising and exciting end to the album. Almost funky at times, with elements of several genres all popping into the mix; here we have a final offering that is a breath taking and exciting as the day is new, and a fantastic way to leave the album, with a ball of energy that is so very undeniable.

Out of the Mist by Tim Sadow & Mike Kopp is an album that you miss at your own peril, here within lies a positive sphere of vibrant music that will lift you from your blues, within each track you will find a partnership of a collective nature that fits so naturally like hands do in gloves, and thus you will bring yourselves no less than 9 tracks of some of those most intuitive and addictive instrumental music that your ever likely to find.


Ode to Arthur Van Schendel Concert By Paul Vens & Friends

 


Ode to Arthur Van Schendel Concert

By

Paul Vens & Friends

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There is something so very moving about this latest album by Paul Vens & Friends, this latest live release Ode to Arthur Van Schendel Concert gifts us a performance dedicated to the Dutch writer, a man who created works of stylish short stories and novels, his craft was created from a romantic and almost classical way, and there can be no doubt that Paul Vens and his creators have manifested something so very respectful and reflective to pay homage to the writer with here.

I was immediately struck with the influences that would pour out of the music; yes there is a heavy folk ethic here, yes that blissful and peaceful New Age element comes through, but on the opening track who would expect me to reference Richie Blackmores Rainbow and a piece called Rainbow Eyes, and for me the opening My Love seals that symbiosis of musical magic, of acoustic guitar, gentle vocals of love, and flute.

This album is deeply romantic and sealed in the years of tenderness and sincerity, listen to tracks like An Answer have I Not, a sensitive and heartfelt compositions that really influences the emotions.

Then there is Butterfly in the Night, a track with a cross 60’s feel, mixed with a little Harry Chapin. Once more we hear a blissful combination of flute and acoustic guitar, one that reminds me of another Dutch band in Focus, then one can literally float into the arms of this next opus of charm entitled Playing in the Fields, it indeed took me back to my youth, when we used to escape from our parents’ home and meet up in the fields at midnight to play, I’ll just say it was a different world back then, this piece is very warm and charming to bathe within, and a song beautifully performed on acoustic guitar by the artist, one that is emotive in its content and memory filled, almost like a back pack that contains all the rose tinted glasses of your great days past.

Ode to Arthur Van Schendel Concert by Paul Vens & Friends is a 13 track release that will take you to so many parts of your life’s already well-worn footpaths of memory tide and time. This is a beautiful album that deeply moved me, I’m not Dutch, but that hardly matters when you have such heart of the sleeve performances like this to enjoy, for me it reminded me of when I was young, with my guitar trying to express my emotions, something I would fail to do truthfully until 40 years later.

It is an album that has been created with such a high level of sensitivity that it is almost palpable, and also unmistakeable in its desire to pay respect to a writer whose works were of an equally in-depth and sensitive nature in structure and composition. This latest release is a mixture of both folk, new age and acoustic progressive rock of the late 60’s, and thus should appeal to a very wide ranging audience, personally for me I found so much within this release, that I have a feeling I will be popping back from time to time, as the days and months roll past, a very emotional and heart felt release indeed.


Thursday, January 13, 2022

Endings By Lisa Cullum

 


Endings

By Lisa Cullum

Written by

Chrissie Sheppard

 

The latest single to come from Lisa Cullum is a wonderfully gentle, yet moving arrangement of piano and strings entitled Endings. This will form part of her new EP Melody Diaries, which will be released soon.

Lisa composed Endings in loving memory of her father William Arthur Elsegood, who nurtured her love of music, and that love can be felt within the music itself, which tugs at the heartstrings and brings a tear to the eye.

This is a really delightful arrangement, and is one that should do well for the artist, and will be enjoyed by lovers of the piano and good music alike, and is a firm favourite of mine.


Winterland By Santiago Trigueros

 


Winterland

By

Santiago Trigueros

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There can no doubt that Winterland by Santiago Trigueros is one of the finest examples of instrumental music I have thus heard so far from the artist, it’s contemporary, yet Neo Classical style is simply delightful, a veritable journey of smooth and fluent music that raises the spirits in the most difficult season of the year can be found here.

The build, progression and climatic crescendos were utterly outstanding, the compositional structures and symphonic backdrops and gestures were completely stunning. I rate this to be one of the best singles I have heard this year so far, and anyone who truly likes to be moved by their music of choice, really needs to purchase a copy of Winterland by Santiago Trigueros.



Angel's Prayer By Angelo Nicola Giuliano

 


Angel's Prayer

By

Angelo Nicola Giuliano

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The gentle tones that float from this solo piano piece by the artist are some of the most tender I have heard in quite a while. Angelo Nicola Giuliano has a fluency that drifts across our minds like a late summer haze on his latest single Angel’s Prayer.

The charming musical narrative that resides within this offering is sublimely calming; it literally is as if an Angel is sitting behind you, and tells you that all will be well.

A more soothing performance by an artist you will not find, and I am very sure that the fans of solo piano music will be more than happy to add this fine specimen to their playlists of choice.



Wrapped In Light By Jill Haley

 


Wrapped In Light

By

Jill Haley

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

One of the things I like most about the work of Jill Haley is her descriptive ability, her skill set of drawing vast soundscapes to music and taking the listener right there to that very spot to enjoy the experience, however this will be a unique sojourn, as for the first time ever her album is not based on a National Park, Wrapped In Light is a journey of personal belief and mixed with the wondrous elements of this home we all call Earth.

The album is a 10 track slice of wonderment to revel within; you will never be disappointed by a Jill Haley album, there are no give away tracks, each and every one has love, intent and honesty poured into them, fine examples of this are the opening two pieces of the album in the title track Wrapped In Light and Clouds Rise, the latter a blissful reverie of Piano, Guitar and Haley’s brass instrumentation, and in my opinion this piece is one, if not the best single arrangement I have ever heard from the artist.

Here we have an album of outstanding natural beauty, vast scenes will open up before you, glorious performances will fall upon your senses like an early summer rain, gigantic opuses of brilliance like The Mountains Rise, or the symphonic gestures and moods of one of the most emotive pieces entitled Wings of Dawn, and the majestic sublime nature of compositions like the powerful and deeply moving arrangement of Flourishing Grass.

Jill Haley has pulled out all the stops with this release, and concludes the album with a beautiful last offering entitled Pools of Water, a more gentle and soothing way with which to leave an album you will not find.

In my view I rate this to be the best work thus far from the artist; Wrapped In Light by Jill Haley has that one magical element that really floats my boat, and that is a heavy dose of musical soul. Haley has literally poured it across each and every composition, and in doing so created the best album ever, one filled with a calmness that is so blissful, a respect of our world so poignant, and a love for her art so crafted. If this doesn’t win an award I will be stunned. 


Tuesday, January 11, 2022

In My Own Time By Aleksandra Takala

 


In My Own Time

By

Aleksandra Takala

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Aleksandra Takala is a contemporary instrumentalist who brings a fine array of colours tones and rhythm to each creation she manifests. I first came into contact with her music back in 2018 through the release Visions & Emotions, and her skills on the keyboard are some of the most intriguing and fascinating I have found in many a year. The good news is that we get to take that train of wonderment once more, through the refrains of her latest release In My Own Time.

The beginning of the album is a pastiche of moods and onward energies; Takala manifests a track of great addiction through her composition Spanish Isle, a Latin guitar sets the scene and a truly addictive forward movement with the keyboards drives the piece ever onwards in the most colourful of ways.

Suite Nightmares & Daydreams is a clever and very inspiring composition, the motifs manifest a strange world where anything could and possibly will happen, the pertinent use of crescendo is crafted and this deft mystical and mysterious composition just grows and progresses with such ease and great skill as it unfurls.

Takala’s multi-instrumental approach gifts us so many opportunities to grow with the music; this was expressed beautifully on one of my favourite tracks entitled Helpless To Help. The symphonic nature of this creation was simply stunning and deeply moving as well; the symbiotic partnership with the piano built a grand arrangement, one that you could with ease fit into a dramatic scene from a movie.

Arriving on our musical doorstep next is the track En Tiempo. This is a magical reverie, one that builds and progresses with an ebullient energy, but contained within a tapestry of movement and motion. Another wonderfully fluent piece from the artist, and one of those tracks that you will keep on sneaking back to from time to time, it is that addictive.

The cinematic character of this album must not be overlooked, it adds to the overall class of the creations within. Take the short form Big Sky Ride as an example, my first thought on hearing this was like watching the clouds fly past on a plane journey in bright sunshine, an idyllic offering indeed, but much could also be said about the following musical narrative entitled, A Tribute To The People, and at just short of 7 minutes the second longest offering from the album too. The percussion here elevated the piece beautifully as did the bass and keyboards giving the track a wonderful collective feel, the flute sounds added a grounding layer of an almost ethnicity to its overall composition.

Good things they say come in small packages; this must be true as I simply adored Song of the Redwoods. Here can be found around two and a half minutes of a peace filled reverie that almost sways in a sun kissed environment of the day, the performance on keyboards by the artist here is utterly delightful, and literally raises the spirits.

A moving and emotive composition is up next, it is called A Time To Say Goodbye. The artist reaches in deep and manifests something so emotionally tender it is heart rendering in its structure, the bells bid a farewell perhaps on a piece that contained the memories of something so dear, now no longer here.

It’s a NEW DAY, yes it is, the juxtaposition of this offering and the last one is palpable, but nerveless a piece to run up the hill to and shout with pleasure and happiness to the world below can be found here, the progression on piano could be just that indeed, this is one of those songs that is always much needed on an album, and certainly one that lifted my January mood.

As we move onwards into the latter quarters of the release, we come across a piece that reminded me of the soundtrack to an old black and white film noir movie, this song had a delicious dance styled ethic and an interesting traditional European motif too. Dance Of Delight is indeed one of those songs that you may wish to visit many times over, just to experience that vast plethora of musical nuances that can be found within.

Our penultimate offering is entitled Silva's Ride, this last but one arrangement is a clever weave of movement and motion in a soundtrack style, I must also say that Takala’s presentation here with a sumptuous bass and soft but purposeful keyboards, were simply addictive to bathe within, a true mixture of Contemporary Instrumental and Neo Classical can be found here.

So we finish with a very classy and riveting cinematic composition entitled Masada Overture. This long form opus was like a movie all of its own, at times reverberating from the very depths of southern Israel, and its grand and vast sweeping soundscapes could easily come from the huge fortress that stands overlooking the Dead Sea, this was indeed a wonderfully powerful and descriptive way to conclude the album.

In My Own Time by Aleksandra Takala has to be one of the most inspirational contemporary instrumental albums I have heard for many a year, filled with a vast range of emotions, locations, dreams and fears, here is an imposing release, with patterns so grand and complex, and from its grandiose contents comes an album that is with ease the best work of the artist thus far, and one that will very much please the ranks of fans who simply adore all that is good in instrumental music.


Friday, January 7, 2022

Connections By Sherry Finzer

 


Connections

By

Sherry Finzer

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The fluency of Sherry Finzer as a flute performer knows no bounds; her smooth pertinent and deeply moving performances have been a constant source of inspiration and appreciation over many years now, in fact since Sanctuary, when the bells of 2009 rang softly in my ears with my first connection to her music.

Here on her latest creation entitled Connections, Finzer manifests the largest collection of works ever on one album, with no less than an amazing 17 pieces on one release. The haunting refrains of Resilience starts our bliss filled journey, whilst pieces like Homecoming, seems to swirl around us and fill each and every musical pore with a baited sense of anticipation.

Finzer is an artist that feels her creations right down to their the anatomical level, and one can sense and feel that symbiotic approach on offerings like Red Hawn Hill and the almost classical refrains of Highland Waterfall, a track that pan himself would have loved to have played on a mid-summers night, dreaming of days as of yet to unfurl.

Connections by Sherry Finzer is the third of her solo flute collections series that have manifested into reality at The Tank, and a more breath taking release in this genre you would be hard to find, especially when you listen to compositions like ethereal and emotive The Crossing Place, almost a call or anthem for those about to pass onto the next dimension, and the concluding track is indeed the perfect ending opus and called Journey With Spirit, a song that contains a lightness of energy and essence, an celebration of release and freedom perhaps.

Connections by Sherry Finzer will no doubt become one of the iconic releases in this genre, solo flute, like solo piano, is a genre that is dense with many offerings, but Connections by Sherry Finzer is a release that stands head and shoulders among the many, and is without doubt one of the most professional offerings of this style I have heard for quite some time, a release of outstanding natural beauty indeed. 


The Dreaming Flute [Poetry Mix]

 


The Dreaming Flute [Poetry Mix]

By

Chrissie Sheppard

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The Dreaming Flute has been a well-known name across the globe, for fans of flute music to congregate together and listen to an hour of such music from various styles across our beautiful planet for many years now. Well musician and radio host Chrissie Sheppard has taken several steps forward with her piece, and manifested poetry, the synths of one of the world’s leading electronic musicians in Kevin Kendle, and caressed her trusty flute to bring us one of the most peace filled reveries of all time in this genre.

The performance here by the artist is idyllic and sleep worthy, who couldn’t just drift off to this beautiful presentation, and the added work of sublime poetry is also so wonderfully crafted and created, it could have easily come from the very pen of Wordsworth himself, simply put this is not just a good new single from the musician, this is possibly one that could go all the way to the top, it certainly deserves to, what a fine way to start the new year.


Thursday, January 6, 2022

Divine Tides By Stewart Copeland & Ricky Kej

 


Divine Tides

By

Stewart Copeland & Ricky Kej

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

What do you get when you place two Grammy winning artists together, one an Indian music composer of legendary status, and the other a rock musician whose work is as stunningly brilliant today as it was in the decades his band flourished with an untouchable sense of perfection, the result is a magical creation of almost spiritual proportion, one that will shake the musical world to its roots, this is what can at the very least be said of Stewart Copeland (Police) & Ricky Kej and their brand new offering Divine Tides.

From its early beginnings it is easy to see that the listener has an album here that is of great quality and texture, the opening foray of Wonders Of Life carries one on a veritable journey through the mysteries and wonderful fluency of life’s unrestricted ambience, if we would only let it be that way. Copeland behind the drums has always been a masterful sentinel of percussion, combine that with the tapestry of Kej’s colourful influences and you have a track that is bathed in a radiance that is so very palpable indeed.

This nine track release is caressed and finessed with such a great level of professionalism from a colourful array of musicians from around the world, and one of them is a man known very well by us here at One World Music Radio in Devan Ekambaram, who beautifully supplied the choral vocals for this track, after the quite breath taking lead vocals from the magical voice of Varijashree Venugopal, in what would be my personal favourite from the album on the piece Himalayas.

Divine Tides is a pastiche of crafted genius, a collection of blissful wonderment, and notes of pleasure can be found in tracks like I Am Change, with standout performances on sitar by Sumarani, a delicate pleasure indeed, and a nod of inspiration and appreciation must go to Santosh Chandran whose guitar in the composition Ghandi was simply sublime.

The album is concluded with the arrangement Mother Earth which is another favourite of mine; I had just taken a moment out to watch two tornadoes dance around in a symbiotic tango out at sea, and enjoyed the wonderment of this moment of nature that only our mother can provide with such a purpose. This final offering built and progressed with a sensitive but onward energy, manifested wonderfully by the artists.

Divine Tides by Stewart Copeland & Ricky Kej is indeed a creation of outstanding natural beauty, packed with Eastern, Indian and global flavours, and celebrating all that is good and grand about our home and our species, it is a scenic soundscape of crafted magic that has been brought into reality by two of the world’s most thoughtful and creative composers. Divine Tides by Stewart Copeland & Ricky Kej is a textured tapestry of tone that demands to be listened to at all costs, and an award winner with absolute certainty.