Thursday, February 23, 2023

Wood Songs By Mad Dog Friedman


Wood Songs


Mad Dog Friedman

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Back in the year 2005 I was literally entranced by a 14 piece solo flute album called Dartmoor Roundhouse by Nigel Shaw, it brought me great solace, here some 18 years later Mad Dog Friedman recreates that mood and time for me once again, his 15 track compilation of solo flute tracks is a stunning reminder that there is so much beauty, peace and tranquillity to be had from the flute as a solo instrument.

Wood Songs takes us on a journey for a wonderful 48 minutes plus, and as listeners we will get lost in the ambience of the moment through pieces like Red Cedar and Olive, or Walnut and Honey Maple, two blissful, deep and resonating flute performances utilising the different woods of nature.

We can also enjoy the reveries of pieces like Flicker Fantasy, a composition that seems to swirl around the listener from all directions, creating an all-encompassing warm energy as it does so, whilst pieces like Lacewood, Red Cedar and Olive, manifest a mysterious mood for us to literally float within, this one would be one of my personal favourites from the album.

There is so much to choose from on this release, so much so, that one is literally spoilt for choice, songs like Willow Basket offer us an abundance of tone whilst raising the energies of the moment, while creations like Stumped manifest a musical narrative of calm resignation.

All in all, here is a release that is hard to break free from, and why would you want to, I am now on my third listen, and as in 18 years past, this album also gives me great contentment and peace, I enjoyed the reveries of tracks like Dance of the Drunken Forest, or the concluding arrangement, Song of the Woods to only enhance my tranquillity and meditative energies further, a fine last composition that sums up in tone and vibration all that has gone before it.

Wood Songs by Mad Dog Friedman is a fine example of a solo flute album played really well, the artist is clearly in the zone with this recording and it shows, and the resultant conclusion and final product is one of total satisfaction and serene peace, and that with regard for such an artistic creation cannot be a bad thing at all, a sure fire hit is completely on the cards for Wood Songs by Mad Dog Friedman.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Lost By Benjamin Cook




Benjamin Cook

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Benjamin Cook came into my musical view during 2022, and his artistic endeavours of solo piano have certainly engaged me during that time, today the artist has a brand new single out called Lost, and I do believe that this has to be his most creative work thus far.

Cooks talents have manifested a piece of pure ambience here, one that drifts like a lost soul across the beach of yesterday. This is indeed reflective, but more so than that, it is incredibly descriptive in its crafted narrative.

Fans of solo piano should lap this up, and those who adore their music on the more emotive side of the track will adore it. Lost by Benjamin Cook is a song that gives the listener exactly what it says on the can, and manifests a place of solitude and ambience for each and every listener.

Burning Bush By Victor Birkan


Burning Bush


Victor Birkan

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There can be no one more prolific in suspenseful solo piano music around today, other than the amazing Victor Birkan. The good news is he has a new single out called Burning Bush, and this delicious composition seems to take us all on a mystical journey with Middle Eastern flavourers.

There can be no doubt that Birkan is one of the most fluent composers of his day, and with each and every composition, a flavourful arrangement can be found, here on Burning Bush we sense within his performance, something quite magical is unfurling.

It’s truly worth listening to how the creator manifests a wonderful interplay between light and dark on this stunning new offering, one that I believe will be a huge success for him on the singles chart.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Winds of Distant Memories By Curtis Macdonald


Winds of Distant Memories


Curtis Macdonald

Written by

Steve Sheppard


This has to be the most unique composition ever by Curtis MacDonald; I have been following the artist’s music now since the turn of the century, and this has to be the most exciting new release I have heard for a long time. Curtis has developed his style to one with a more electronic base, and this vibrant new composition is going to rock the world.

This new offering is a sublime chill out electronic creation, one that truly delivers a brand new style, and lays it at the feet of his ever loving fan base, that in all seriousness are going to eat it up with glee. Winds of Distant Memories by Curtis Macdonald is a crisp, riveting, and exciting new song that should take the singles chart by storm.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Dreaming of Daybreak By Janice Lacy


Dreaming of Daybreak


Janice Lacy

Written by

Steve Sheppard


The manifestation of truly good art is the awareness of all possibilities, a connection to nature and all the beauty that it brings and a desire to build and construct sanctuaries of the mind and soul. On her latest release, Dreaming of Daybreak, Janice Lacy does all three of those precepts and more, I am now on my second full listen to the album and I’m sure it won’t stop there.

Janice first built her relationship with the piano at the extremely tender age of 3 years old, and this native from Ohio, and her symbiotic partnership with her beloved piano continues to this day, the journey begins with the opening piece Abiding, here lays a gentle musical narrative, a solo piano performance that illustrates the title of the album with such a calm repose.

There is more to this album that is now about to unfurl, Dreaming of Daybreak is a colourful release and as a title track is a sublime example of what can be achieved with a full flowing arrangement, one that also contains a soothing string section that is as calming as the early morning ocean waves kiss the daybreak as it rises into the soft palate of a dawn sky; if ever a track was idyllic, this is it.

A more reflective feel can be had on this next piece entitled As the Years Pass, the presentation on piano by the artist, takes on a more emotive touch as she explores times past and long gone, having one of the best horn performers in Jill Haley on the composition only elevated the song to a majestic and magical level.

Still Near is out next port of call and here we find Lacy in a calming mood, a symbiosis of thought and perception is created with the inclusion of Charlie Bisharat on violin, the purpose of the piece was more pronounced and full of flavour, but Bisharat’s sumptuous violin were the waves to Lacy’s vast ocean of talent, and added in that gentle poise to a glourious creation.

As we approach the summit of the album we come across a stunning performance that we now know as Waiting for the Clouds to Break. This piece sounds like a composition that is crying out through the ages, there is a level of much appreciated anticipation built into the weave here that is delightful, while on Headlands Spring the half way marker is reached, and in a true new age piano style as well. Through the charming refrains of this track I can visualise sitting upon a hillside after a long climb, and thoroughly enjoying the view, and then perhaps also using this piece as the soundtrack that goes along with the moment.

I adored the delicacy of this next offering entitled A Beautiful Light, this is a track that one can truly appreciate, it’s a creation that one can feel, like the first rays of the day warming your chilled face, the multi-instrumental nature of this composition made the experience even more delightful.

The light and airy motifs on this song just illustrates what a class act Janice Lacy is, as a pianist and composer, this is a wonderfully layered arrangement, one with delicious strings and even a slight Celtic motif as well, this is indeed one of those pieces that is impossible not to love.

The next creation offers up much, even a little apprehension to begin with, and then the piece seemingly drops gently into to a warming manifestation that is akin to a friendly arm around the shoulder. Always True is a reassuring melody of honesty and love, and played with the confidence of a pianist who truly feels as well as hears her own music.

This one made me smile, purely because our neighbours are Hungarians and hearing this piece I immediately imagined them dancing to Hungarian Waltz, however, lets cast that little daydream to the side, one has to admire this song, it has so much within its weave, a little folk, a hint of the classical, and a moving intention of a symbiosis of sound, dance and love.

Let’s arrive now at our last but one composition off the album and this one is called Nocturne, an artistic repose can be found here, and a composition that contains a lot of depth and passion, adding the Cello of Eugene Friesen into the mix is always going to increase the fluency of a piece, and also in the case of this creation, manifested a vast oasis of sound that we as listeners can magically explore. Lacy then concludes with a stylish ending as we are given a rerun of the first track of the album in Abiding (Reprise), one that contains Haley’s English horn to draw the night time down, and close the curtains to this most splendid album.

Dreaming of Daybreak by Janice Lacy is that magical stepping stone of accomplishment and with ease the artist’s best work thus far; it contains a plethora of multi-talented artists and producers, in the dream team of Friesian, Haley, and Bisharat, lets also not forget Tony Levin on Bass, and the wizard of imaginations in Mr Will Ackerman. This is going to be one of those releases for Janice, that she will look back on in the years ahead and be proud of, all the stars in every way have aligned with perfection for Dreaming of Daybreak, and it is going to be a huge hit on the charts and awards circuits for the musician, if there is any justice in this crazy musical world.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Everyday Miracles By Julie Hanney


Everyday Miracles


Julie Hanney

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Listening to a Julie Hanney album is like listening to an audio books soundtrack, every composition is a storybook unto itself, and each arrangement has a depth in colour and textures that others seem to fail to reach, the new tales of wonder in this brand new album by the artist is called Everyday Miracles, and is a truism of real life and the appreciation of it.

From the very first composition the listener is captured and willingly led by the hand into a wonderland where Alice is not the only happy listener, the encounter with Taking Flight is a gentle warm welcome to this latest project, and the careful progression by the pianist on this arrangement is sublime.

There are 14 delicious tracks on this fantastic new release, ones that include warm renditions like the happy refrains of Coming Home, a song set for wonderful lyrics, or the clever and carefully worked genius of The Fibonacci Sequence. The sequence follows the rule that each number is equal to the sum of the preceding two numbers, a crafted piece indeed.

This is an album that is packed with blissful compositions and wonderfully warm performances, like Ancient Winds, an aged but respectful song that floats on the winds of evermore, or Synchronicity, a truly important track that illustrates all those supposed coincidences that happen around us each day, but many fail to recognise even a single one.

This is a simple album based on a simple subject, and circling us with each moment of our life, are every day miracles like the caress of a butterflies wings, the delicate dance of a dragonfly, or the tender kiss of a loved one, or perhaps a Longing for some heart felt moment that has yet to occur, this piece is utterly beautiful and deeply moving, Longing itself is a heartfelt opus of pure loving honesty.

Julie’s artistic crafted brilliance will then conclude the release with a deeply attractive offering called Birdsong, a sound, a choir of natural beauty we hear each day if we care to listen. This final offering is quite complex and offers up a finishing solo piano presentation that has elements of both the New Age and contemporary instrumental genres within the weave of the composition, and of course is a smart way indeed to finish the album.

Everyday Miracles by Julie Hanney is with ease the artist best work to date, she has manifested into reality 14 tracks of complete colour and texture, then layered each of them with sumptuous levels of serenity, and tranquillity, and within each song a tale of simplicity can be told. Hanney has been likened to other artists in her time, but I firmly believe that she has now absolutely arrived on her own stage, and performs to her own tune, and Everyday Miracles is the creation that heralds her arrival as solo piano A-lister in her own right.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Rise By Walter Anderson




Walter Anderson

Written by

Steve Sheppard


A new name for me, but one I am very grateful to now have around me, and of course also to start my day, as I introduce the listener to Walter Anderson and his latest single Rise. This slice of solo piano was just what was needed to start off another week in my world, as the fluency and textures found in this short form piece were simply sublime.

Walter Anderson is a pianist of great colour, and his skill set on this new single manifests an almost classical mood at times, but overall, is a composition with more warmth and a lightness of presentation, one that is so very appealing to listen to.

Rise has to be one of the most uplifting solo piano pieces I have heard for a while, a creation that takes the listener to a place of peace and serenity, and a track that is sure to find its way into the hearts and minds of each and every willing listener; a sure fire chart hit lays in waiting here on Rise by Walter Anderson.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Jellyfish Dance By Adolfo Viguera


Jellyfish Dance


Adolfo Viguera

Written by

Steve Sheppard


This new single by Adolfo Viguera called Jellyfish Dance, has to be one of the most beautiful compositions in the instrumental genres that has fallen upon my desk in the last few months.

Adolofo’s presentation is wonderfully accurate musically, as I have watched jellyfish here in the Mediterranean and the multi-instrumental arrangement is so very redolent of the subject matter.

This is one of those pieces that you may well find yourself coming back to time and time over, it has a reflective mood about its build and construction, one that manifests an arrangement that is seemingly quite addictive, and thus one can say with ease that Jellyfish Dance by Adolfo Viguera is so far the most colourful and descriptive single of the year without doubt.

I'll Find You Someday By Paul Vens & Friends


I'll Find You Someday


Paul Vens & Friends

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Paul Vens and Friends have a very reflective energy as creators of what one could describe as new folk ballads, this new single entitled I'll Find You Someday has such a memorable resonance, it literally moved me through a few decades of songs in this style, from artists like Cat Stevens and Ralph McTell.

Paul’s guitar is so carefully played and the intention is to manifest an emotive essence within the composition, one that is beautifully added to by the harmonic vocals of Hammeke which accompany those of Paul; this is such a gentle and respectful ballad, one that will float into your heart and never leave.

Paul Vens and Friends have once more brought into this world a sensitive repose in music, one that will be totally adored by those who simply delight in new music from the singer songwriter genre.

Ocean's Breath By Ross Mitchell


Ocean's Breath


Ross Mitchell

Written by

Steve Sheppard


The talents and artistic skills of a creator who is truly in the flow of their muse is something wonderful to witness. The skill of manifesting a song that perfectly depicts its subject matter is just another level of creativity that some never reach, here on this brand new single called Ocean’s Breath, Ross Mitchell’s performance on his trusty piano isn’t just redolent of the subject matter, one can see feel and touch all the elements in this composition with a palpable ease.

His flourishing manoeuvres on the piano are startling classy, the colourful pastiches of energy and passion are breath taking, I can say from experience, as I live by the ocean, that this is a perfect soundtrack to that wonderful segment of nature’s sublime existence, a chart hit without a shadow of a doubt must be on the cards for Ross Mitchell and Ocean’s Breath.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Stargazing By Lorna James




Lorna James

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I have enjoyed this musical voyage that I have travelled with Pianist Lorna James so far, last year 2022 was good for her and us, with very creative compositions coming our way in abundance, and the good news is that she has started the year off with a bang, by releasing in my opinion is her best work thus far on her latest release Stargazing.

There is a delicious vastness about this musical construct that is so appealing, the reflective notes and chords are built in perfect harmony with the major variety to manifest a mood of wonderment, gratitude and respect. Her performance on this single alone leads me to suggest that this new offering is going to be a smash hit on the singles chart with ease; James has created a song here that could well be a pivotal moment in her career.

Rhyming Poem (Piano & Flute) By A88 & Shere Fraser


Rhyming Poem (Piano & Flute)


A88 & Shere Fraser

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Its flute meets felt piano on this brand new single by A88 & Shere Fraser, as they gift us ever eager listeners, a composition called Rhyming Poem (Piano & Flute), a light hearted and crystalline like arrangement that drifts across the caverns of our mind, and creates pleasing images and tones as it wonders.

This gentle reverie is sweetness and light combined, but its overall construction gives us motifs of the classical genre. The fluency within the partnership on the two artists is completely spot on, and thus the result, a very delightfully easy piece of music to listen to and enjoy.

Monday, February 6, 2023

Breath of Wonder By Diane Wheeler Dunn


Breath of Wonder


Diane Wheeler Dunn

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Diane Wheeler Dunn has started 2023 with a brand new single called Breath of Wonder, and the vibrational energies that come from this new offering are quite empowering, and simply the best way with which to start a new year off musically. The artist has created something here that is truly natural and almost ancestral in its construction and arrangement, and this fresh beginning gives us all an exciting new single to enjoy.

Diane has become a well-known and much respected name in the world of flute music, and this brand new composition will only go to cement that legacy of classy creations even further, played with precision, but with heart and soul, Breath of Wonder by Diane Wheeler Dunn is set to become another huge chart hit for the artist.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

A Waltz from the Heart By Annie Locke


A Waltz from the Heart


Annie Locke

Written by

Steve Sheppard


It’s such a delight to write about a new Annie Locke composition, she is a composer and pianist that always manifests what could be classified as comfort music for the soul, each arrangement carefully, but lovingly constructed, and here on A Waltz From The Heart we hear just that and more.

Annie’s latest manifestation carries you onto and along the dance floor of life and love and never lets you go. I’m not sure that I have ever heard another pianist play with such warmth and love as she seems to always do, and one has to say with such style and grace as well.

I am pretty sure that after feeling the tenderness and honesty of performance here, that Annie is going to have another singles hit on her hands with A Waltz From The Heart in the charts.

ALIGNED: A Planetary Mantra & Gong Shower By Charleene Closshey


ALIGNED: A Planetary Mantra & Gong Shower


Charleene Closshey

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I have had a few personal experiences of Gong showers, each of them were simply breath taking and some quite emotional, others were perfect for the releasing of negativities energies. Here on this new album Charleene Closshey takes the whole matter a stage further and moves onto an interplanetary stage.

ALIGNED: A Planetary Mantra & Gong Shower is without a doubt an album you need to dedicate time to, it is so deep, powerful and far reaching, give yourself space and time, and just go for it, be solidly in the moment; from the very first composition entitled Sun, the centre of our solar system, we are gifted a piece that is so vast, that the nature of this red hot opener encapsulates everything and everyone with its burning energies, the Gongs resonate with such an intensity, while Closshey symbiotically harmonises with her blissful vocalisations in what is a perfect start.

We drift towards one of our smaller planets in Mercury, or in our islands Greek Mythology he would be known as Hermes, the messenger; here we find a blissfully delicate and fluent ethereal arrangement, the vibrational tones for me were quite high, and in some ways reminded me of the upper chakra resonances, however this would be one of my favourite tracks off the album, although that in itself is absurd as the whole album should be really taken as a complete journey.

Since Holst created The Planets, I have been enamoured by interpretations of the wondrous planet of Venus through music, here on the track Venus, Charleene Closshey brings a blanket of sensitivity to the party on her own invention, the angelic harmonics in this manifestation alone are enough to move you to the very root of your soul, the gentleness and thoughtful warmth within this composition are pure paradise, and the distant overture of tone something deeply delightful.

The contrast to the last peace as we now move to the track Mars was palpable, but in an almost earth element style, this is a track that is more grounded that the air elemental energies of the last piece, however there is something incredibly attractive about Mars that is totally addictive, and also very meditative too, there is a depth here that has to be felt as well as listened to in one of the most profound tracks off the album.

We now traverse the asteroid belt and arrive at what is believed to be the oldest planet in our solar system and known by its Roman name Jupiter, the bringer of Joy, and ascribed to the Greek god Zeus. This goes some way to express the regal and deeply spiritual chants throughout this stunning arrangement, it would be all too easy to get lost within the realms of Jupiter’s power, grace and sacred vibrations, at what is the longest track off the album at well over 15 minutes in duration.

Saturn, the multi ringed planet and second largest in our solar system, the Greeks reference Cronus to Saturn, and that depth of time and age says a lot for the compositional structure of this piece entitled Saturn, deliciously long form as you would expect, this arrangement has a well of ancient energies within its walls that make it so very appealing, the vocalisations and gongs come and go, whilst the crescendos deliver a time worn offering that is so vast and incalculable.

Our ship of tone and timbre reaches the world named Uranus, this icy cold planet is depicted with such class by the artist here, so much so that one could with ease get lost in its musical environment, this is a moment of tone and vibration that builds amazingly well, and then releases its timbre with a slow drift in the same way a returning tide does in the ocean, an outstanding vibrational moment indeed.

As we drift deeper into this quite otherworldly release, we come across one of my personal favourites form the album, a composition entitled Neptune. This was a powerful repose into tone, the vocalisations and gongs provide a safe pathway though what in my view is a crisp meditative arrangement, this creation has an amazing energy about its construction, and is also a piece that allowed us as listeners, room to enjoy the vastness of its musical creation.

Being old school, I still regard Pluto, out next piece, as a planet, however this icy cold composition is simply perfect in all of its aspects, I found this without doubt to be the most ambient constructs from the album, its relationship astrologically and scientifically with Neptune is an important factor, akin to this worlds size, this is the shortest track off the album, but one I dearly loved and deeply enjoyed many times over.

Our penultimate journey is an extremely interesting one, in fact until this moment I had never known of this goddess, but found my research into Sedna fascinating. Sedna is the goddess of the sea and marine animals in Inuit mythology, and I believe that the artist has created one of the most original new age styled tracks in bringing this quite mysterious and deeply riveting track into manifestation. When one listens, we can with ease visualise a calm and strangely misty ocean, a world where the mistress of the sea rules, and all can be at peace within her realm; this has to be one of the most stunning offerings from the release with ease.

From our solar system and onward, what lies ahead is Deep Space. This is our last composition off the album, but easily the most enticing, whilst it could be said that this may be the end, it could also be the beginning. Here Closshey’s vocals come into a perfect symbiosis with the massive crescendos of her gongs. This final piece is so vast and wide it creates an open portal to tranquillity for the listener, and of course a sublime way with which to leave the album.

ALIGNED: A Planetary Mantra & Gong Shower by Charleene Closshey has to be one of the most unique album of its style for a decade at least, the ever eager listener has almost 2 hours of Gong magic to behold, partner that with her vocalisations, it gifts the holder and listener a musical experience of tone and vibration that they are unlikely to forget, this mammoth body of work has certainly put the genre of new age music firmly back on the map, and this is going to be an album that should take the charts by storm.

Ancient Time Telling By Gary Schmidt


Ancient Time Telling


Gary Schmidt

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Gary Schmidt has a wonderful talent; his compositional skills and arrangements are so warm, and produced with such a tender hand at the tiller, here on this brand new single entitled Ancient Time Telling, he brings us a duet of sublime beauty, and a track virtually aged in the vibrations of time itself.

Ancient Time Telling by Gary Schmidt has that wonderful winter feel to its creation, one that employs the skill set of Hannah Alkire on Cello, and this symbiotic partnership with Schmidt’s piano is a blissful thing indeed, both artists manifest a flow so appealing and attractive, this would indeed be the perfect music to start an old tale of the ages by a log fire with, and simply a gorgeous new offering that should take the single chart by a storm.