Saturday, April 30, 2022

Call of the Desert By Samer Fanek


Call of the Desert


Samer Fanek

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There can be nothing better to broaden the mind than travel, a global perspective enhances the world view of a person, and should make them more understanding of the ways and traditions of societies that reside on this planet. That aforementioned statement is an explanation of some of the musical vibrations I have found within this album, as I come from the so called west, but now live in a Middle Eastern country, but life here in Cyprus is a mix of multiple cultures that I personally adore.

That colourful statement also enhances my view of this quite stunningly brilliant album from the artist, the journey through it starts with Call of the Desert - Part I, as our sojourn with Samer Fanek begins. This is one of the most cinematic arrangements I have heard from the artist, a full flowing mix of melodies and moods as we make our way across the hot sands until the next caravansary is reached.

Fanek is indeed an expressive and passionate pianist, but now surrounding himself with a multitude of instrumentation that touches the very soul of this region, a sublime moment of genius indeed. Listen to and enjoy the refrains of Nighttime Celebrations, and particularly enjoy the percussive addition, where a rhythmic pastiche of sublime class can be found, until there is nothing more left to do, other than to dance.

A more reflective piece can be found on the mood-filled and emotive composition entitled Where Did the Time Go. Time as it passes, leaves not a mark upon the hour glass of the day; it slips through the fingers and into the oblivion of an endless night. Here Fanek seeks to explore a slightly darker room with a view, the darkness is the well of memories, the view is what lies ahead; a powerful performance on piano can be found here, one that I found very profound and deeply emotional.

Into The Sun, when we reach this track we are minded that our location is one of the hottest on the planet, and this piece is certainly played with a fiery passion by the artist; a percussive power base can also be found here, one that when mixed with the added instrumentation, particularly the strings, almost gifts us a little Middle Eastern rock to enjoy.

The Old Arabic Shop is a wonderfully happy piece, one that reminds me of when we go to our local markets and enjoy the energy, the fun, the banter and excitement of the moment, when we meet old friends, share a coffee and have a chat. This is a perfect description of what I think the artist is trying to portray in his music here, and if so, he has captured this timeless moment of social interactive magic beautifully.

As we step with one tentative foot into the second half of the album, we come across an offering that contains a certain level of tension and expectation built into the weave of the arrangement, on Dramatic Encounters, the added middle eastern instrumentation here works wonders to build on that mood, and it seems as if the pace is building all the while, one which will of course will lead up to a spectacular conclusion.

Samer Fanek could have written this one for us in Cyprus, it is entitled Mediterranean Moments and trust me our day is full of them, this one suits my location perfectly, as it mixes both western and eastern cultures through its arrangement craft-fully, this full flowing rhythmic and addictive offering has a sublime sense of movement, laced with a textured tapestry of a deliciously smooth back drop of sound to utterly enjoy.

The deeper waters of this release are full of picturesque moments of music, a good example is Pleading to You, a sumptuous piano leads the way into a deeply emotive composition, the intensity here is sublime and the power of the moment through its wonderfully layered and interlaced global narratives, are simply a sight to behold musically.

We find our penultimate doorway creaking open to reveal the track Desert Rush, an apt name indeed as the tonal vibrations are amazingly powerful and commanding, the multi-instrumental nature and almost symphonic gestures here, manifest a piece with the capability of pleasing all that will listen to it, and enticing those into its realm who are testing the water into this genre, this is a breath taking cinematic opus that does nothing more that please with each and every note played.

We return to the beginning for our last offering as we reprise Call of the Desert - Part II, a more tempered composition can be found to lead us out of the album, but one that leaves us with many memories of our journey along the way.

Call of the Desert by Samer Fanek is without doubt the best work of the artist thus far, it has it all, the artist has embraced his roots, combined his motifs of east and west, and come up with what is without doubt his best work with ease. Call of the Desert by Samer Fanek, is an emotional roller coaster of a multi-cultural delight, one can almost smell the roasted nuts and taste the Falafel; here is an album that will take you to a place that you will never want to leave, a wonderfully inspiring album indeed.

You can purchase the album here:

Friday, April 29, 2022

Imaginary Trains By Michael Whalen


Imaginary Trains


Michael Whalen

Written by

Steve Sheppard


My journey through electronic music has so far taken some 50+ years, and I have been on this Imaginary Train ride through one of the most expressive mediums of music via varied genres, a multitude are artists and albums have come and gone, from ELP, to the amazing Rick Wakeman, from Isao Tomita to Vangelis, and more recently from Jon Serrie to Kevin Kendle, there are too many to mention, but from all of the above, I found influences of within this quite breath taking new release entitled Imaginary Trains by Michael Whalen.

There can be no better place to start than the opening track, one of the finest in my opinion that Whalen has produced; for me it also became personal, pulling forward memories of a very painful train journey out of London many years back, that day in ‘99 Eno helped me home, within this quite emotional opus, elements of Kendle’s crescendo brilliance, aligns with a Berlin styled arrangement that hugs warmly a Vangelis moment or two, and for me makes Imaginary Trains, one of the most sublime starting pieces from Whalen ever.

Nothing like having a Grammy winner on board with your project, we have just got off the back of one with the sensation known as Ricky Kej, and here he is on track 3 entitled Across the World to Be With You, the production on this piece is phenomenal, and if you also add the classy and creative flute of Ravichandra Kulur into the mix, you have a composition that could with ease fit pretty much any movie soundtrack, simply put, it is that good.

Imaginary Trains by Michael Whalen is an album that bears his soul electronically, that opens his heart for us, so that we may enjoy the process and the melodic genius that lives quite happily inside. It is an 11 track collection of crafted musical magic that must be respected, examples of which can be found in pieces like The Wayward Sun, a mournful repose into a soundtrack melody, the light but fascinating The Ribbon of Time, or perhaps the 80’s influenced Dream Together, a ballad to raise an open lighter and sway too.

There are also 4 added specials within the album, remixed versions of the track Across The World, one happened to include one of my favourite rock drummers in Simon Phillips, who I once watched pound the skins of The Michael Schenker Group back in the day, all of these remixes were perfection and wonderful additions to an already masterful album.

Imaginary Trains by Michael Whalen is without doubt the best work of the artist so far, he has embraced all that he loves, and handed it to us on a silver platter, this is one of those albums that you are going to adore, for like the title suggests, you will go on an imaginary train ride through all you know musically, and Whalen’s wondrous collection of sublime arrangements, will be the perfect accompaniment to take along the way. This is not just a good album; this is the finest cut of electronic music I have had the delight to have sampled so far this year, a guaranteed winner without a shadow of a doubt.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

The View From Here By Michael Gettel


The View From Here


Michael Gettel

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I have just been enjoying myself; and I really need it, I am currently recovering from illness and listening to this brand new album from Michael Gettel, The View From Here, was exactly the musical medication I needed. I think I am going to convince you now, that this may well be one of the top solo piano albums I have heard so far this year with ease, and you all know just how many solo piano albums I review!

The opener for me was so special; Gettel employed the skill sets of delicacy and grandeur, and succeeded on both fronts like a true consummate master of the keys with the title track from the album, The View From Here, a truly clever composition and a vastly superior performance, one that any pianist would be proud of as an opening track on a new album, and filled with passion too.

There are some wonderfully pretty tracks on this release that seem as if they have almost been painted by the artist himself, one such example is Oh So Many Stars, but my heart totally opened up at the start of Odiles Garden, this is Gettel in masterful mode, and producing a track that I am going to have to draw to the attention of my dear friend David Lanz very soon, I am sure this picturesque piano narrative, this pastiche of natural sounds, and this all engrossing opus of genius will get a thumbs up from the maestro as well.

The View From Here by Michael Gettel is an album created by an artist of such talent, there is the sublime ambience of tracks like Lone Tree, the descriptive nuances of Medano Creek and the pristine perfection of Van Gogh Sky, each and every track layered with love, charm and a professionalism that is so nice to see once more, can it really be 20 years since Michaels last album!

The album is concluded by a piece I felt pretty much mirrored my mood today, I feel like I have come out of a cocoon and wish to embrace the thermals of life’s rich tapestry again, this last parting gift I will forever be so very grateful for and entitled Aerial, a composition played with tenderness and a blissful fluency.

We may have had to wait 20 years for The View From Here by Michael Gettel, but I was certainly worth the wait. Here is an album that will become a personal favourite of mine, as I hope it will of yours, Gettel’s brush strokes of colour, tone, and timbre will allow its listener to follow the artist along on a totally fulfilling sojourn of solo piano with a little extra. I urge you, this is quality, don’t hesitate, make a copy yours right now, your heart will love you for it forever.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Wind, Water and Stone By Windtalker


Wind, Water and Stone



Written by

Steve Sheppard


I like to have a good read of the information contained within an album, this allows me to gain a written perspective as to where the artist is about to go with his or her work, so I was so pleased to see that Windtalker once more has dedicated his efforts to its indigenous peoples from the home lands of Native America, it would also turn out to be medicine of great power for me recovering from an annoying illness, but then again, music and I mean really good music like Wind, Water and Stone is the musical panacea to cure all ills, so without further ado let’s get our journey started and trust me this is going to be one of the most beautiful, calming, yet incredibly emotional rides ever.

Windtalker over the years has honed his skill on the Native American Flute to become one of the finest creators of his time, you only have to listen to the opening track to see why, we are of course talking about the title offering Wind, Water and Stone, with its delicate and dreamy synth pads and utterly idyllic flute which reminded me of a journey I took across Dartmoor many years back with UK flutist Nigel Shaw, and I have to add, this has to be the best start to any album I have reviewed for years.

Minong Mist is our second location, one that is incredibly haunting as well, the soft keyboard sounds draw a perfect mysterious location for us all to enjoy, while Windtalker’s magical flute dances like Pan around the forest, in a veritable mid-summers night’s dream of a performance.

There is so much to enjoy here, each new track is like arriving at a new location, this next one is a perfect example and called Prairie Thunder, ok so it’s a well know thing that anyone who includes a storm on a track for me to review has a thumbs up already, especially this one, as this is something I have actually experienced myself in Oklahoma, rolling thunder across the prairies, the upbeat energy was perfect for this song and I could wistfully dream of a herd of Buffalo heading for shelter through the percussive beat and vibrant flute.

Sacred Mesa is a place of abundant beauty; it’s a world of flute created by the artist that is literally transcendent, wonderfully meditative and as smooth as drinking chocolate. There is a crafted and well thought out hovering intensity at the start of this arrangement that sets the scene so sweetly, a more caring and honest performance than this one will never be found, this is music from Windtalker’s heart, directly to yours.

Maco Sica Dawn is going to go down as one of my personal favourites, note I say one, as there are so many, the creation of mood here by the synths and flute are nothing less than remarkable, this is one of those pieces that literally takes you there. I could have listened to this on repeat for days, it is so atmospheric. Windtalker’s performance though is a delight that breathes fresh life into the day and kisses the lips of infinity, making this piece a truly special offering.

A nice break into the world of acoustic guitar could be found starting this next track entitled Eagle Dancer, here is a vibrant manifestation that lights up the sky with its energies, ones I may add are perfectly balanced to bring the very eager listeners a wonderfully fluent musical narrative, and another trip down memory lane, reminding me in part of an old Johnny Whitehorse song.

The next one hit the spot, as I have walked some of the trail of tears and researched much about the heinous acts placed upon the native people, Stolen Dreams is a piece that honours the ancestors and ancients, it highlights the sadness that still hovers to this day uncomfortably around the Midwest. This I think is the most mournful, yet most poignant performance I have ever heard from the artist, one that literally moved me to tears.

We swim with reverence into the latter half of the album and arrive at a music cove entitled Majestic Desolation, so once more this one gets another personal favourite tick from me, Windtalker keeps pulling these gems out of the hat with such ease. This is music for the imagination, if you are feeling down or just want to escape, this track will do just fine, just drift along on the harmonic waves created by Windtalker, and you will thoroughly enjoy each and every second.

Our penultimate offering has a real depth to it, it has a wondrous ancestral mood and is entitled Dakota Rider, the soft rhythmic nature of this piece brought us a sensation of onward movement, and Windtalker’s flute, the master creator of great purpose and artistic endeavours, and would lead us perfectly to our concluding arrangement Pictured Rocks Suite, a song that had some interesting elements contained within, especially the added strings, but it has to be said that if you were looking for the perfect concluding composition this is most certainly it.

Wind, Water and Stone by Windtalker is an album I can see will be much sort after, not just by lovers of good flute performances, but by connoisseurs of ultra-classy instrumental music. If you had the good sense to buy Windtalker’s last album Awakening and thought it was good, just wait till you get your hands on a copy of Wind, Water and Stone you will be utterly blown away.

Slow By Christophe Goze




Christophe Goze

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I believe that music in these days of craziness is more important than it ever was before, this panacea that comes from chords, notes and vocals, is the supreme healer, and the only real truth in our tattered world. This new album by Christophe Goze entitled Slow is with ease one of the fore runners and flag bearers of a new era of music, one that speaks directly from the heart of the artist to yours, with a passion so delicate, yet so heartfelt and honest.

This fourteen track release is some of the most beautifully created music I have heard this year. I must hold the opening piece up as a fine example of that excellence, it is called Dreams & Promises (with Cathy Battistessa), the slow tempo, the relaxing but emotive mood is so well received and enjoyed.

We shall hear more from Cathy Battistessa later on in the album, but for now I wish to bathe in the brilliance that is Take Me Home ft Odis Palmer, this is a song that reminded me in part of Andrew Lloyd Webbers Music Of The Night at its inception, and then perhaps into a classic Neil Diamond creation later on, needless to say here is a ballad that is sublime in its compositional structure, and those sometimes raspy vocals added a whole new texture and layer into the production.

There are many tracks that flow like liquid silk into the heart of my ever eager ears; one that also resonated with me was the chilled but memorable and reflective Little Boy Revisited (Remaster), then the moment for a glance across the room to a beautiful partner, a hint at a romantic dance can be on the cards through the piece So Beautiful (Revisited), literally there is so much to enjoy and find here, indeed the phrase, “something for everyone” is never more true than with this album.

The guitars of Goze, and his added multi-instrumental genius is well received here, on tracks like the smooth and charming narratives of Love and Ce Que Tu Veux, which if my French is still with me, means Whatever you Want, are but two sublime examples of that aforementioned statement.

Finally let’s give praise for the vocals of the amazing Cathy Battistesssa who ends this honestly stunning release with Hero the extended version, here is a lady that can not only sing, but feels each note with such a wonderfully sensitive artistic tenderness.

Slow by Christophe Goze is a perfect album for the long summer days ahead, it shall be a main stay on my poolside playlist. Goze is a crafted artist, his skill sets, whether it be writing and arranging, producing or playing, are simply top notch, and Slow is a release that is both reflective and chilled, and an incredibly easy to listen to album, one that every good music lover should eat up with utter ease, and be grateful to have in their collections.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Life Passage By Shambhu


Life Passage



Written by

Steve Sheppard


There is nothing quite so magical and moving than a guitar played well, and here on this brand new single entitled Life Passage by Shambhu we have just that. A soft mellow back drop is provided by the artist, who goes on to perform one of the most beautiful and heart felt compositions of his career.

The combination of notes, chords and soft pads manifest a world away from the chaos we are dragged into from our television screens each day, we should shut down the chaos, and bathe in the truth of peace within the realms of utterly transcendent music like this.

Life Passage by Shambhu is the apex of acoustic guitar performances, it is by far and away the best I have received so far this year, one that is an experience of blissful tranquillity; this is indeed music for the soul, created by a loving heart.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Why Can't We Live Together? ft Charles "Buddy" Smith


Why Can't We Live Together? ft Charles "Buddy" Smith


Robert Slap

Written by

Steve Sheppard


As a huge fan of really good soul music in the early 70’s, I would be able to bathe in the melodies and harmonic bliss, of acts like Joe Simon, Stevie Wonder, and Billy Paul, and of course many others, this was a time of really rich tapestries of music that will never be forgotten, perhaps I should also include one Timothy Thomas into this mix as well, as many will remember this anti-war song, as it is as strong now as it ever was back in the day.

Here Robert Slap, who I have known musically now for some 7 years now, as a producer of wonderfully fluent instrumental contemporary music, gifts us eager listeners probably one of the most soulful singles of the century thus far, in his rendition of this absolute classic. Utilising the skill sets Larry Minnie on Harmonica, the breath taking Charles “Buddy” Smith and Audra Kubat on vocals, Slaps “Why Can't We Live Together?” is a true cry to the nations, in the most soulful of ways possible, and at a time when the world needs it now more than ever before.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Present By The Song Gardeners




The Song Gardeners

Written by

Steve Sheppard


This is a song that sings loudly about everything I have believed for some years, being present and the now, it is the only thing that really matters, as it is the only real thing you ever will have.

Present is another in the line of sublime songs by the one of the best New Age music bands on the planet in The Song Gardeners, and Present is a fantastic example of why they are just so popular with fans the world over.

Purposeful meaningful lyrics can be found here, and perfectly sung by the sensitive but flowing vocals of Corrie Dunn, while we must not forget the wonderfully funky bass line courtesy of James Butler, and the harmonic convergence of brilliance by Mary Gospe, all of which will go to make up another huge hit single for the band.


Love Made Them One By JC Rodriguez


Love Made Them One


JC Rodriguez

Written by

Steve Sheppard


This is a sublime new single from J.C Rodriguez, a performer we normally hear on an acoustic guitar, but the amp is on, and a driving electric guitar takes us home.

However there is even more within the weave of this new offering, as a delicate and layered backdrop of percussion and piano, manifest a solid base for the artist to gift us a most fluent performance, one that is like Gary Moore but without the blues.

For me as a rock fan there is much to enjoy here, but if you are a follower of really classy music performed with heart, style and panache, then you must make Love Made Them One by JC Rodriguez your first port of musical call this week.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Quietude By Javier Márquez




Javier Márquez

Written by

Chrissie Sheppard


The latest single to come our way from Javier Márquez is a wonderful piano based composition, with additional instrumentation, that just goes a really long way to making this such a heartfelt arrangement.

The artwork for the release is so well matched to the music, a place that is peaceful and quiet, not even a ripple on the water, it is that calm, just like the music.

I was also excited to see an arrangement of more than just a couple of minutes, which is so common these days for piano pieces, at just over 5 minutes, it is almost long form in the genre, but it is 5 minutes of serenity that I really did need.

Quietude by Javier Márquez is something we all need right now, a place of quiet to go rest within, and I am sure will be loved by lovers of piano music, as well as those who simply love good music: this is an arrangement the artist should be really proud of, and is one that I feel will do really well in the charts too.

Sign of Love By Yulia


Sign of Love



Written by

Steve Sheppard


The magic of smooth jazz is in full force here on this most delightful of singles entitled Sign of Love by Yulia; this is one that you might want to leave on repeat, for there are so many little nuances contained within this release that one may miss the first time around.

Yulia’s piano creates a sun kissed melody that is so very rich and palpable, that you simply want more of this intoxicating brew of good Jazz music, the performance on the keys is tranquil yet purposeful, and at all times thoroughly enjoyable. Without a shadow of doubt Sign of Love by Yulia is certainly one to recommend to all of your Jazz friends, and those lovers of truly classy music. 

Wonderness By Julia Thomsen Written by Steve Sheppard




Julia Thomsen

Written by

Steve Sheppard


This new solo piano offering by Julia Thomsen is a rarity; it is a total package of wondrous music combined with perfect art work, I’ll admit it is rare to find both the music and art in harmony these days, but on Wonderness she makes this happen with ease. I gazed at the cover and watched through eyes of ambient fantasy, the two children walk across the bridge over a small stream into a dimension of utter spring blossom and beauty, and all to this quite comforting arrangement by the artist.

Wonderness by Julia Thomsen is with ease the warmest and most charming solo piano musical narrative I have had the pleasure to listen to thus far this year, the slight elevation in purpose as the composition gently built was sublime, and all the while the intent of manifesting a safe sanctuary of wonderment was achieved brilliantly through piano and art, bravo indeed.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Tomorrow's Gonna Rain By Ban Brothers


Tomorrow's Gonna Rain


Ban Brothers

Written by

Steve Sheppard


The latest single from Ban Brothers is an incredible journey through a multitude of influences and energies. Rocky on lead vocals brings back heady days of bands like Crowded House or Mike And The Mechanics and its pop-rock style is as infectious now as it was back then, on this new single Tomorrow's Gonna Rain.

There is also a driving essence within this new song that is utterly infectious, with a musical menu that is wide and vast, with a hint of The Moody Blues and a slight touch from time to time of a Beatles influence deep within the weave too.

Fans of good classic pop-rock will eat this piece up with a desire so eager. It’s musicianship from guitar licks, symphonic string segments and imploring and passionate vocals, means there can be only two words that will follow the following title from Ban Brothers release Tomorrow’s Gonna Rain, huge hit!