Monday, May 29, 2023

Love Makes My World By Ban Brothers


Love Makes My World


Ban Brothers

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Songs about love have been the main stay for the popular music scene since I can remember. To express this most powerful of emotions within music is an art indeed, but here Ban Brothers do it with such consummate ease, their new single Love Makes My World is one that features the startlingly brilliant vocals of the legendary Scott Oatley.

This is the sixth release from the brothers Guiding Star album project, one of positive affirmations of hope, inspiration and of course love. This new single really pumps the energy into the proceedings with its glorious power ballad manifestations and its ultra-fluency.

The influence of unconditional love is strong within this track, a piece that reminded me of the classic days of bands like Crowded House or Mike and the Mechanics. Here the artists have added flavours and textures of folk and country and layered flowing pop motifs on top of that as well, in what must be another sure fire winner for Ban Brothers.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Timeless By Drifting In Silence




Drifting In Silence

Written by

Steve Sheppard


It had been some 4 years since I last heard from Drifting in Silence, the release Away was an awesome electronic ambient experience, but here we are again in 2023, about to embark upon another voyage of plenty with composer Derrick Stembridge and the great news is that Timeless, the latest offering from the artist, is simply a wonderland of ambient moods and manifestations.

The opening piece is Clocks; here the artist leads us in with a careful attention to detail, within its initial energies, this took me back to the early 80s and Laraaji with his Ambient 3 Day of Radiance release, the progression of this track indeed moved ever forward, like the unrelenting tick and tock of the clock, and in doing so created a fluent ambient soundscape around us to thoroughly enjoy.

I Wish You Were Here, is a wonderful slice of dark ambience, one that now filtered in through the windows of my mind, like the dust drifting across sun beams on an early May afternoon, the synth work here was sublime and had such depth to it, this is what I would love to have playing on a walk around a modern art gallery, the whole composition itself is so vast and so expansive, that one could easily get lost within its realms.

As we move ever deeper into this classy dimension of top quality ambient music, we come across a track entitled IV XV MMXXII, this as an ambient artist myself stunned me, the depth once again was sublime, but the very start of the track seemed to come from such a distance, and then once its arrival had been achieved, the artist then created a textured and layered composition unlike anything I have heard before, this is without doubt an electronic ambient soundscape at its very best, and such wonderful inspiration for me personally.

The important factor for me in this next piece was the delicacy of the opening segment; As You Drift Away contains a soothing narrative, almost meditative at times. The build and progression carried the repeating motif on synths with it, but please listen to that progression and its constant construction, this is one of the finest examples you will hear today, it’s like something has just come close to you, past by you, and then simply floated away, only to pull back again, almost tide like in energy.

So we arrive at the title track, and this just also happens to be the penultimate offering of the album, and of course called Timeless. The softness of the synths here was incredibly impressive; the ability to move from that softness and manifest a soundscape so vast was equally impressive, there seemed to be so much going on within the weave of the arrangement as well, a little ethereal essence, a slow swirling manifestation of serenity, a masterful construction indeed.

Dreamcatcher is our last doorway of ambience, and something to drift along with; the extensive and substantial volume of this composition was incredibly extraordinary, this for me represented an entire realm where time was simply non-existent, almost like music for the void. There can be no doubt that Stembridge as Drifting in Silence, has brought to our attention a standard of electronic ambient music that we can all both enjoy, and simply float within its oceans of tranquillity with.

Timeless by Drifting In Silence is without a shadow of a doubt one of the best ambient based albums I have heard for some years, if you like to get lost within dimensions of vibration and sound, then this album is most certainly for you. Timeless by Drifting In Silence is a project that gifts us a glimpse into the infinite, it’s an album that manifests a portal to a jurisdiction of tone and timbre that has never been felt before, this is ambient music at its ultimate apex.

The Turning By Heidi Breyer


The Turning


Heidi Breyer

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Sometimes the simplest of melodies, the most delicate of creations, can catch the eye and entice the imagination; here on this brand new single from pianist Heidi Breyer, we have a gentle refrain of what appears to be a humble manifestation, but as the composition made its way ever onward down the footpaths of musical time, we began to see a deeper more emotional arrangement slowly appear, a creation of awareness, but one that for its duration would stay loyal to its light-heartedness.

We can now surely say that Heidi is one of the finest pianists of what I would class, of a new creation period of the instrument, her artistic abilities are simply stunning, and she is both a writer and a painter with her music. The Turning for me is a musical metaphor, perhaps a reminder of change, along and up that spiral staircase of life, but we always have that opportunity to fling open a window and take in a breath of fresh air along the way, if we so wish to do so, or if we even recognise that we can.

Heidi has done it again; she has opened the door and allowed her muse to create freely, and done so in such a pristine and beautiful way, surely another fantastic hit is on the cards for The Turning by Heidi Breyer.

Monday, May 22, 2023

A Blueprint for Life By Michelle Qureshi


A Blueprint for Life


Michelle Qureshi

Written by

Steve Sheppard


It can never be a bad thing to start a week off with a review of a Michelle Qureshi creation, and this Monday I had the good fortune for that to happen, as I now delve in deep by falling into an eternal sound now known to me as her latest release, A Blueprint for Life.

Early on this year the artist released Open Window as a single, here we can gladly listen again as it takes pride and place as the opening piece off the release. So listen to Michelle’s graceful refrains, push open the window and listen to the sounds of the day unfurl, watch the hopeful sunlight cause shafts of dusty rays across the cadence of the day, and purely enjoy being in the moment. Qureshi in my view is one of the best ambient acoustic guitarists in the world today, and it is hovering manifestations of utter beauty like this one that make that a reality.

We go willingly now into the gentle arms of a delicate guitar creation called Hidden Lines. This is classic Michelle Qureshi, creating a world around her music, one that is so deeply immersive and incredibly attractive; one can with ease just float on a bed of calm whilst listening to this quite pristine composition, and also another single from the release.

We can follow that up with another favourite of mine called Spiral Staircase, the textures, timbre and tone are all layered perfectly, to once again create loving images of a time when all seemed to be bathed in a moment of perfection, by climbing the staircase our view increases, and as such we can see a bigger picture; this is one of those delightful opuses that you will find yourself clicking repeat to many times.

Like the opening offering, Hearth has a homely feel to the composition, we can feel safe and calm within our own sanctuary, and in a way this is one of the most wonderful things about Michelle Qureshi’s music, she manifests such ambience and crafts qualities of tranquillity and tone, without ever having to leave your home, this very track for me is an anthem for gratitude, listen also to the multi-layered aspect of this piece, and the performance that is manifested within, is exceptional and blissfully serene.

Our concluding offering is entitled Elevations; I found this to be deeply moving and heartfelt. This tapestry of sound hovered like a late October afternoon, one that holds onto every shimmering ray of sun kissed hope, it is a song of gratitude and peace, and it is simply the most idyllic arrangement with which to end the release with.

A Blueprint for Life by Michelle Qureshi is an album that gives pleasure to my day; I am a home bird, and adore the sanctuary of my space, here with Qureshi’s classy compositions I can enjoy an album that for me represents the energies of happiness, ambience, tranquillity and the tender reassurances of a peace-filled environment we call home. This is without doubt the artist’s most ambient work for years, and as such it will be a constant on my musical playlist of meditative bliss.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Cherry Pops By Evan Carydakis


Cherry Pops


Evan Carydakis

Written by

Steve & Chrissie Sheppard


Acclaimed Australian Saxophonist Even Carydakis is back with a brand new single entitled Cherry Pops, and hot on the heels of his success with his last release of Movin On. This time the illustrious king of smooth sax brings his own antipodean flavour to a dedicational creation, in remembrance of his most beloved dog, a fine Australian Kelpie, whom has now passed from Canine lymphoma, who was called Cherry.

Carydakis started to play the saxophone when he was 15 years old, he has spent time with the legendary jazz educator, the late Charlie Banacos, and has now been performing on stage for around 25 years. Evan Carydakis brings his a-game to this field of musical play with a sublime new release, one filled with a positive vibrational energy and the smooth fluency that we have come to expect from the performer; the manifestation here is cohesive in its construction and in its presentation, with a fine lively tempo, vibrant percussion, guitar and keyboards,

Now you may wonder how Carydakis manages to keep that smooth fluency in his music, well he says it’s all down to space and simplicity and respecting his audience, well he certainly manages to do that, with what seems like ease.

Evan Carydakis is joined by Emmy nominated pianist Michael Whittaker who produced this new single and who also performed on keyboards, Adam McPhail on guitar and Petar Janjic on drums, Evans twin brother Stephan Carydakis also co-produced the track too.

One can almost visualise the pride and happiness of the symbiotic relationship between the artist and his canine companion in his performance, as the sax flowed with such power, colour and happy intensity, this is without doubt the musician at his very best, and a huge hit must also be the concluding mark on the cards, for this most bright, loving and enjoyable new single called Cherry Pops from Evan Carydakis.

Memories of the Marsh ft Colin Powell By Steve Sheppard


Memories of the Marsh ft Colin Powell

By Steve Sheppard

Written by

Chrissie Sheppard


I must say Memories of the Marsh the latest single from Steve Sheppard featuring the guitar of Colin Powell is something that allows you to simply sit, close your eyes and drift away to.

This is an arrangement that is very idyllic, the natural sounds, the synths and guitar surround you, taking you back in time, to a time when life seemed so much simpler and carefree, when you were able to spend your days just drifting in nature, where things just seemed to be so peace filled.

This arrangement builds on Steve’s Seasalter Marsh track from his album Sanctuaries of the Mind, the addition of the guitar of Colin Powell just added to the time travel feeling of the arrangement.

Memories of the Marsh by Steve Sheppard is an outstanding single, that all good music lovers will want to have in their music collections and should also be a piece that does well in the charts too.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Aeon By Benjamin Cook




Benjamin Cook

Written by

Chrissie Sheppard


Benjamin Cook is back with a brand new single entitled Aeon, a wondrous arrangement which takes you away to a magical land.

Now the word aeon means an indefinite and very long period of time, but in philosophy, it means a power existing from eternity, an emanation or a phrase of the supreme deity, such great descriptions that would all suit this piece of music perfectly. From the opening piano to the supreme strings that were performed with the Northern Film Orchestra.

This all goes into making this a great piece of music that could easily be in a movie, an arrangement that I was truly mesmerized by and one that I could listen to for an eternity.

Aeon by Benjamin Cook is a single that is far more than just another release; this is an epic performance that deserves lots of recognition, and a piece that all lovers of good music should have in their collection.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Magnificent Gaia By Jacquelyn G. Kleine


Magnificent Gaia


Jacquelyn G. Kleine

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Jacquelyn G. Kleine is an electric flute performer and composer of sublime quality, her ethereal compositions have truly moved me lately, and now she is back with another single, this time a track that contains a blissful aerial ambience and is called Magnificent Gaia.

One may postulate how we can have an aerial experience whilst referring to the earth, that’s easy to explain, just get a copy of this brand new single, close your eyes, and allow your imagination to bring you an incredible perspective of the planet from the eyes of an eagle.

The tones on Kleine’s flute manifest these with ease, one truly feels on the thermals with this breath taking opus of natural sound, her presentation can gift us many sights from below, and much appreciation for the world on which we are allowed to live can be garnered from them.

Magnificent Gaia by Jacquelyn G. Kleine is impressive and splendidly glorious in all its aspects, if a film maker, or perhaps even a nature based TV channel would take some time and to listen to her work, and then perhaps feature it in their programming, that would be a really good thing to do, this new song has “must have” written all over it, so grab a copy now, and fly like an eagle over this most Magnificent Gaia of ours.

Ritratto By Carlo Matti




Carlo Matti

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I found this new album by Carlo Matti very compelling, it is music I could listen to all day whilst in my own sanctuary and hidden away from the world, perhaps watching sun rays filter in through a half open curtain, creating ambience as every second and every moment ticked off the clock; this release for me was one of the most ambient, yet reflective musical manifestations I had heard for a while, and I adored it.

Ritratto means Portrait and the five pieces contained within, each gave us their own personal reflections on life and its rich tapestry of memories. Qualcosa che riguarda l'Universo was stunning, it reminded me a lot of Keith Emerson’s desire to perform more music of a classical nature in the early 70’s, here Matti manifested music for another reality entirely, and as the title translates to English, Something About The Universe, I think the composer has succeeded in creating an alternate one for us to enjoy its narrative over and over again with.

The classical nature of the first track created a wonderfully interesting juxtaposition to the following composition entitled Contrappunto della Mente or as translated in English, Counterpoint of the Mind. This is a deeply thoughtful musical prose, which I very willingly submerged myself into, a creation packed with energies of yesteryear, and times long since passed; the performance by the pianist was a touch of nothing less than introspective genius.

Valzer della Principessa is our third of five tracks, and one could with ease see a beautiful young monarch waltzing to this manifestation, perhaps as a ghost of a long lost love, and across the dance floor of some ancient palace in a far off time, this was a spectacular presentation by the artist, the build and progression was sublime too, and to hold the tenderness in balance doubly so was truly splendid.

The penultimate offering from the album is Pedanterie Poetique or translated Poetic Pedantry. This composition is a fine example of the artist’s expertise; once more a juxtaposition of brilliance is illustrated by the pianist here, bringing a sense of abandon versus pedantry into the manifestation, in an arrangement that was quite liberating to listen to.

The concluding musical moment is entitled Dov'eÌ l'Orsa Maggiore, or translated, Where is Ursa Major? A sublime performance can be heard here by Matti, he is at his artistic best, utilising all of his talents as he brings to us one of the finest concluding creations you could wish for, explorative, expansive, meticulous and meditative, and in doing so he has manifested a piece that drifted into many musical harbours, ambient, classical and minimalistic, in a superb ending opus.

Ritratto by Carlo Matti is one of those albums that I come across rarely, one that for me was a timeless cascade of ambient bliss, wrapped up in classical overtones, and housed in a memory palace so vast that one could easily get lost within its structures, this must be one of the most intelligent and beautifully performed piano based albums I have heard for quite some time, it is without doubt a must have for any ultra-serious musical aficionado. 

Butterflies By Christophe Goze




Christophe Goze

Written by

Steve Sheppard


If you are looking for a new song to bring you a level of contentment, peace and tranquillity like never before, then this new single Butterflies by Christophe Goze may well fulfil that desire, it’s tones, vibrations and energies are so very bliss filled and serene, it is without doubt one of the most laid back and calm reposes into the world of smooth jazz with a little global fusion I have heard for some time.

The tempo on Butterflies is heavenly, I once stood in my back garden with a butterfly event in full motion, millions of them had flow across from the middle east to Cyprus, the sky was filled with such a gentle vibe, one could hold your arms out and be covered by their gossamer delicate wings, and this very song could have easily been the sound track for that amazing occurrence.

Goze is one of the masters of smooth jazz, but he also incorporates much more into each creative expedition. Here we have a lush acoustic guitar, a rhythmic but very soothing percussion, along with ethnic vocalisations and a soundscape of utter peaceful delights; this one must go on a summer music wish list with ease.

Pink Lemonade By Christophe Goze


Pink Lemonade


Christophe Goze

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Today the sun has kissed my country with what looks like is going to be a long hot and sultry summer, this new single by Christophe Goze reminds me of the cooling bliss of Pink Lemonade in the height of the seasons of sol, this brand new release is simply undeniably addictive and could well be played all summer long, with its elements of a Latin vibe contained within, we are gifted something incredibly special from the master of smooth Jazz.

Pink Lemonade by Christophe Goze is one of those new singles that will appeal to most listeners, it has a rhythmic sense of purpose, it’s laid back and chilled much like the lemonade, and it’s beautifully produced and performed by a man who truly knows his genre and his skill set. This song has a wonderful tranquil feel to it and that dreamy guitar was delightful, I also detected a little eastern Mediterranean vibe in there too which will make this new single a popular choice here in Cyprus.

Pink Lemonade by Christophe Goze is a blissful repose with which to spend just under four minutes in the company of, its tranquil, yet rhythmic tones will bring much peace and calm to your sunbed days, so may your summers be hot and your lemonade pink.

Footprints In The Sand By Lorna James


Footprints In The Sand


Lorna James

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I have been truly impressed with the arrangements and compositional structures coming from pianist Lorna James this year, she seems to constantly be expanding her musical realities, and her thoughtful, and thought provoking narratives have been gaining a more artistic mood with each passing measure.

On this brand new single, Footprints In The Sand, James takes an even bigger step, and moves into the realm of new age ambient piano, and brings to us one of her best manifestations thus far, the sheer soundscape alone is vast, smooth and beautifully fluent, the ethereal and angelic vocalizations add so much harmony and serenity to the proceedings, whilst the electronic synth and keyboard work added to that of her chief story teller, the piano, making this one of the best singles I have heard this year.

Footprints In The Sand by Lorna James is heavenly, this new single has it all, a fluent and artistic intelligent arrangement, drama, suspense and is multi-textured, and all bathed in an exciting mysterious back drop of sound. I have a feeling Lorna is onto a winner here with her new single, Footprints in the Sand.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

90 Seconds to Midnight - Baila! By Kluane Takhini


90 Seconds to Midnight - Baila!


Kluane Takhini

Written by

Steve Sheppard


This has to be the most fascinating review I have had to write this year with ease, the quote from the artist set the scene for me. “The symbolic "Doomsday Clock" created 76 years ago by atomic scientists, including Albert Einstein, today stands the closest it has ever stood to humanity's darkest hour”

So with that being said, how we deal with such circumstances, fall into a pit of Nihilism and give up, or DANCE! This dichotomy is postulated and delivered here perfectly by Takhini, who once more utilises the amazing mournful qualities of a James Hill Trumpet on his latest release 90 Seconds to Midnight - Baila!

The rhythmic nuances are sublime, the Latin measures irresistible, and the overall narrative of this new single perfectly illustrated by the artist, in fact the juxtaposition of the variance between the two patterns within the song throws up a question which you the listener can be the only one to answer, the inevitability of destruction, or to dance while you still can.

90 Seconds to Midnight - Baila! By Kluane Takhini is a truly thought provoking new single that you just won’t be able to resist, so don’t, purchase it now, open your eyes to your own environment, be active, be positive, then dance like there is no tomorrow.

Nature of Things By New Latitude


Nature of Things


New Latitude

Written by

Steve Sheppard


It was a wonderful thing to see on my work list a new release was to reviewed for New Latitude, I am a big fan of their instrumental music, and I still have fond memories of the Wood, Steel and Grace album from 2021, so let’s embark on a new music journey right now with the team of Erickson, Carr, Strickland, Stone and Schuman.

The opener was simply effervescent and a global fusion of jazz, rock, acoustic and a little Latin along the way with the track Led to Believe. Some similarities on those aforementioned genres could point to other artists like Incendio; however this one for me was a wonderfully energetic beginning, just perfect to start our musical sojourn with.

The smooth cruise of tone continued with the next offering entitled Invisible Frame; this flavourful form had a lush acoustic nature to its construction, this for me is a prime example of the quality that can be achieved when utilising the best qualities of an acoustic guitar, a performance that brought the sun out for me.

On Tribute we have a steady rhythmic piece, Carr and Erikson combined forces to create a symbiotic partnership on guitar here, on a piece that also had a little emotive nature about its overall construction, one which flowed beautifully into the track Circumstances Have Changed, which would be one of my favourites pieces from the release, the tempo for this arrangement was utter perfection and opened up a whole world of movement and rhythm, with elements of both Latin and even rock contained within , I would imagine this could be a very popular live song to listen to.

Now we reach the farthest shore before our return home, and we come across a track that was released as a single back in the year of hope of 2021 and called Softer Than Silence, the gentle natural sounds at the beginning once more set the scene for a sublime instrumental composition, and a perfect arrangement for a single indeed, the melody is so memorable, that little mixture of minor and major always works for me and a fine way indeed to conclude the release indeed.

Nature of Things by New Latitude is a crisp and fluent new release by the group, for me it highlights all that’s good and great in the world of acoustic instrumental music, five tracks are contained within this collection, and each and every one of them are presented and produced to the highest quality possible, this is one of those albums that would be simply perfect for a little drive time along a sunny road with the top down.

In Praise of Shadows By Billy Denk


In Praise of Shadows


Billy Denk

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I felt I need of an oasis of calm this morning, yesterday had been a sea of changes for me, and whilst change is a good thing, I felt in need of a little ambience, so a big thank you to Billy Denk for providing that for me via the refrains of his brand new album In Praise of Shadows.

I must say I totally enjoyed this most soothing release, tracks like The Sun Was Shining eased me into a day that was so amazingly chilled, the vibrations of this composition were doubly so, this is like laying in a meadow and being surrounded by nothing but the delicate hand of nature itself. Denk provides us with a sanctuary of sound, and his keyboards, synth and guitar structures are sublimely wonderful.

Two of my favourite musical subjects are the quality of light, and shadows, so I was eager to see how this new release would pan out as we drift into the welcome arm of In Fairness to You. Here we have a somewhat different texture to enjoy, a piece that is vast in its overall construction, there is also a slight emotive nuance that keeps pushing through; for me this is a complex piece, one that plays with both the dark and light of musical matters.

As an ambient musician myself, I am always eager to see what other musicians do with calm segments, space and solitude within their music, I am glad I came across this next track as it would turn out to be one of my favourites, and called Unto This Light; this is ambient music at its best, a hovering intensity can be found here, a composition that actually manifests ambience by leaving space for the arrangement to grow organically.

This Day Has Come is the track that awaits us at the half way juncture of the album, Denk has created something quite crafted here by manifesting energies of realisation within his composition. This music could easily be the anthem for that moment when you realise that today is the day you must take action on a certain subject, or denial is no longer an option, the keyboards, synths and guitar are sublime here, bringing us a blissful sanctuary of the musical soul.

I could listen to music like this all day long, several names come to mind, but we have an artist who is on our Jazz circuit here in Cyprus in Vassilis Philippou, his ambience and almost New Age Jazz brought me so much joy at last year’s festival. Now Denk brings us Forever Within, a wonderful example of an Avant-garde style, a piece that simply seems to float between the shoreline and the tide of musical heaven, this performance is both creative and artistically supreme in its overall narrative.

So we find ourselves swimming in the deeper waters of the release when we come across a track entitled Reflections in Darkness, this one is a tranquil fusion of ambience and electronic mastery, here Denk manifests a foundation of sound, and upon that adds in layers of tone and vibration with his multi-instrumental disposition. I must say this is one of the finest examples of experimental ambient music I have heard for some years.

The Long Cold Winter is always a great subject to create music for, here Denk, from the very starting note, manufactures that hovering iciness of midwinter, the impending darkness, the frozen wastelands, the desolation of nature, it’s all here for us to get lost within. This is without doubt the darkest offering from the album and so it should be, but a composition so brilliantly created that it reminded me of Lizard Point by the master of ambient music himself, in Brian Eno.

So we arrive at the very last track off the album and this concluding piece is easily the most emotive from the release, and called Spirit Ascension, whatever your belief system or none, this one will move you, the organ entrance on this creation was simply amazing and set the scene instantly, the steady and slight elevation of tone continued to its final conclusion, on one of the finest compositions from the album.

In Praise of Shadows by Billy Denk has been for me, one of my most enjoyable listens this year, the artist has manifested something completely original and built it on the foundations of ambient music, and done it so well, it is one of those releases that it would be very easy to leave on repeat all day long. Here is an album that allows itself to grow and mature to find its own purpose. In Praise of Shadows by Billy Denk is a little sanctuary of ambience that everyone needs in their personal record collections, and highly recommended by this music writer with an absolute ease.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Nightsong By Rick Sparks




Rick Sparks

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Rick Sparks has been on my musical radar for ages now, and never once has a single composition of his disappointed me, today I get the honour of reviewing his latest album Nightsong, and this could well be a very special one, as I feel it could be his best work as of yet.

We can glory in the title track first, I adore it when artists do that, the whole project is explained from the off, here on the beautiful refrains of Nightsong we hear natural sounds of the dark hours, a gentle flute sound, and then the magic that explodes onto the scene when Sparks first touches his keyboard is wonderfully palpable, this is the perfect scene setter.

Astra Lumina is our next doorway of choice; here the artist manifests a somewhat mysterious energy to this creation, twinkle bells, flute sounds and angelic harmonies are all in abundance on this stunning offering, this is one of those tracks from the release that truly moved my emotions, and as a musician, to hear a comment like that will make your day.

However I must say I have now come across a track from Rick that I am going to play for an eternity, I rate this to be one of his finest arrangements, it is called Sleep Walk. The harmonic convergence here is simply breathtakingly beautiful, of course a huge hit for Santo & Johnny Farina back in 1959, when I was barely 2 years old, but to this day still remarkable, like this very manifestation, this is so very classy indeed.

To follow up the last track with this memory filled song was a moment of utter genius, Rick released this one as a single a few months back, and it is so good to hear What'll I Do, on his most illustrious album. The song itself has much earlier energies that the last piece, but did appear in the ‘74 movie The Great Gatsby, anyone remember that? The song poses the impossible question of a lost love and why, but what Sparks does here is to make a wonderfully famous song so warm and tender, this version is like having a big hug from one you love so very dearly.

It’s amazing to realize that we are now at the half way marker of the album with the song My Valentine, if you just listen to the music, you may pick up on this Paul McCartney classic from 2012. Once more the master of melodic harmony is in full flow, adding such a level of serenity with his keyboards, to make this song a delicate pristine china doll of a composition.

Now you will probably know by now that I love ambient music with all my heart, after all I compose and record it myself. Many think it’s an easy thing to do, oh how mistaken can they be, holding in the energies to manifest something truly atmospheric, but without any distinctive melody, it is incredibly hard, but Sparks does it so brilliantly on Night Rain, at times this reminds me of early Kevin Kendle. The softness of the musical palette here is utter genius and simply soothing to be a part of, and well done Rick for getting the rain sounds perfect too, also not an easy thing to do.

I always love to listen to and write about a Rick Sparks album, there is always so much beauty and harmonious enjoyment to be had; this is a 10 track release of wonderfully tempered textures, much like this next piece entitled Hold On My Heart. Also for me, as a huge Genesis fan this is special, as it highlights one of the many huge hits brought into this world by the legendary Phil Collins. Here the song is a composition of reassurance, hold on tight and it will be alright.

The seemingly endless war in Ukraine as I write continues, and many compositions have been written about Russia’s illegal invasion of a sovereign country, but this one from the artist has to be one of the most heartfelt and brutally honest. Sparks piano simply tells the tale of the fact, that it is the children that will suffer and are suffering, and for no good reason, on the song Lullaby for Ukraine's Children.

The penultimate track is one I have bitter sweet memories of, Stings Fields of Gold. This was one song I had to learn as a part of my singing lessons about 10 years ago, the song is great, but not at all easy to do with someone who is tone deaf standing next to you! However this already startlingly beautiful piece is given the Sparks treatment by the artist, and we are gifted a sublime moment of serenity to wander through golden summer fields to.

Our last and final track off the release is entitled Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral, if your Irish you’re sure to know it, if you’re not, I’m betting you will have heard at some stage in your life, this is a clever way with which to leave the album, a classic professional move from Sparks, always leave the audience with a smile on their faces.

Nightsong by Rick Sparks is a musical collection of intimate songs that will allow you to relax, enjoy, kick back and chill too. On this new release Sparks has created an oasis of calm and done it in such a way it is going to seem both familiar and personal to you, with well-known arrangements of classics and brand new moments of Sparks genius, this is one of those albums you would be crazy not to have in your collections, as this could be the best work so far from the master of musical melodies.

Monday, May 8, 2023

Swim to America, Vol. 1 (une rétrospective Stephan Eicher au piano) By Doug Hammer


Swim to America, Vol. 1 (une rétrospective Stephan Eicher au piano)


Doug Hammer

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There can be one thing that is certain in review writing, you are always going to come across something new at least five times a week, today is Monday and I am about to find out for the first time about a fellow European musician in Stephan Eicher. Long-time online friend and pianist Doug Hammer now introduces me to his work and more importantly, the collaboration of sorts he had with the artist during the pandemic, this album is the outcome as Doug takes 13 pieces from Stephan, and gives the Swiss rocker and pop stars tunes, the solo piano treatment.

So for me personally this is exciting, as I can look at each of the 13 tracks like brand new compositions, so with that being said let’s start with the opener Ce peu d’amour, this for me is the perfect start, here is a track that says with all its heart, new beginnings, an excitable melody, and here is a song waiting to burst out upon the whole world and shower it with love.

The pandemic eras were strange times indeed, strange alliances were formed, friends and families lost, and new talents and skills were gained, here on Cendrillon après minuit, a certain energy of solitude is created, a lonely essence floats between the notes, in the most moody and reflective of compositions.

Déjeuner en paix is our next solo piano delight, this is a colourful and vibrant arrangement that seems in some way to have a dualistic sense of being, one that seems eager to find peace and a need to be left alone, whilst a certain frenetic energy drifts all around, a clever creation indeed.

Für Immer is our next piece, now this is one incredibly beautiful offering, a pristine piano is offered here by Hammer, this dedication’s one of those heart felt, memorable pieces that manifests moments of time into musical magic, the performance by Doug here is a truly sensitive presentation indeed.

The following piece is a true repose, a thoughtful little moment in time, created by a loving hand and presented by Hammer in a passionate style, and entitled 1000 Vies, a really considerate offering indeed, one that flows naturally into the next offering entitled Je te mentirais disant, a song of deception and mixed emotions. Hammer creates a narrative here that is creatively clever, covering a plethora of moods whilst doing so in a truly artistic performance.

We now step tentatively into the second half of the album with a track called Manteau de gloire, which I think in English means cloak of glory, regardless, this track is one of the most fluent I have heard from Hammer in a while, it’s like listening to a mountain stream in March, its melody so full of power and happiness.

Our following slice of solo piano magic is entitled Nager vers l'Amérique or translated in English means Swim To America, (See what I did there)! This is actually prime Doug Hammer territory, a slow build and progression and one that eventually leads to a climatic crescendo, what a sublime creation indeed, and easily one of my personal favourites off the album.

Si tu veux (Que je chante) allows the love to be shared via the desire to sing straight to the heart. A creation can be found here that is not just carefully crafted, but with a perfect amount of elevation and intent as well, the following narrative entitled Djian's Waltz creates an interesting partnership with the preceding composition, both follow on nicely with each other, in personal reverie that is so very heartfelt.

Prisonnière is our penultimate track off the album; the minor nature of this song pricked my attention, as there were so many examples of enforced solitude that this piece could work well with. This has to be one of the most moving opuses from the release, as one can through the music, feel the pain and sadness pour from the tones and timbre of the composition.

So our last port of call and this is probably the best way with which to leave the release, a song about dark hours called Nocturne. There can be no doubt that Eicher is a fine composer and writer, and its delicate tracks like this one that always show up the tender artistic nuances.

Swim to America, Vol. 1 (une rétrospective Stephan Eicher au piano) by Doug Hammer has to be one of the most interesting albums I have reveiwed this year, not just because I had to reinstate my limited knowledge of French learned some 50 years ago at school, but also because of the symbiosis that has been found here by two artists, thousands of miles apart and during a global pandemic, a time when lock-downs became the norm, but creativity was as free as a bird.

Here is an album you should really give a listen to, it has a whole raft of emotions contained within, it has powerful and meaningful energies melodies and movements, and for me it is a celebration of human success and artistic desire and creation.

The Enchantment By Kimberly Haynes and MB Gordy


The Enchantment


Kimberly Haynes and MB Gordy

Written by

Steve Sheppard


It is so good to hear from Kimberly Haynes again, however this time she partners up with percussionist MB Gordy and together they bring something truly powerful to the musical table. This is a formidable ballad, one that drifts across the hazy horizons of time itself.

Haynes vocals are utterly amazing, it would be very easy to get lost within the vibrational tones of her supreme voice, MB Gordy is the engine room on a piece that has a mixture of both a spiritual energy, mixed with a Celtic influence, both match so well in a single that like my new offering, is near on six and a half minute long, thank you so much for that Kimberly.

This is without doubt one of those compositions that it would be all too easy to get lost within, the narrative guides you by the hand into a mist filled reality, where simply anything is possible, this offering contains a constant mood of anticipation, suspense, love and respect, all bathed in a colourful musical tale that is orated and sung beautifully by one of the genres best singers, simply put, if this one isn’t a massive hit on the charts, the entire globe is crazy.

Friday, May 5, 2023

Place In The Sun By Todd Mosby


Place In The Sun


Todd Mosby

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There can be no doubt that guitarist Todd Mosby is musically on fire, this latest single proves the point entirely and entitled Place In The Sun. It was also a blissful pleasure to be able to listen to and review a slice of Jazz Funk, a rarity these days, but here is Mosby producing something quite breathtakingly smart and funky.

The lightness of touch by Mosby is a wonderful thing to enjoy, and with artists like Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Tom Scott on Sax, bassist Rhonda Smith, Dapo Torimiro on keyboards and vocalist Laura Vall magic is always going to be made.

Place In The Sun is going to be another in the long line of success stories for Mosby, his desire to create sublime musical narratives with a instinctual talent is so delightfully obvious for all to salute on this offering, and this combination of brilliance by the artist is also from his forth coming album Land Of Enchantment.

Mosby has brought the mood to move back into music, so perhaps it’s time this summer to get the funk out of town, and go find your special place in the sun, a sure fire hit with utter ease can be found here.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Guiding Star By Ban Brothers


Guiding Star


Ban Brothers

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Ban Brothers are back with a brand new single entitled Guiding Star. Lately the Brothers have been knocking it out of the park, and here on this new single they may have just created an anthem for a TV show or perhaps even a charitable advert, as it certainly builds upon a narrative of positivity and hope, something we all need today more than ever.

The song itself has been described as cinematic pop, and in some ways that goes to confirm my aforementioned statement of its style. The lyrics are sung with power, intensity and purpose by session vocalist and regular with the Brothers in Rocky.

One may find elements of folk within this new song, with shades of a mysterious nature perhaps; however I believe it would be perfect for a show like Stranger Things; one could with ease see it succeeded in that arena. Guiding Star by Ban Brothers should be a massive hit on the charts; its inspiring, uplifting narrative is just the ticket for a brighter future, one that we all very much need.

Metamorphosis By Terry Lee Nichols




Terry Lee Nichols

Written by

Steve Sheppard


It’s really good to once again connect with the music of Terry Lee Nichols, one can always look forward to a journey with the artist, this man is a master narrator of sublime music, and tales are most certainly told within his illustrious and crafted performances. Here on Metamorphosis we literally journey through time itself, from the roots on up, and I would truly urge you to purchase a copy of this album to enable you to understand the total concept and project of the sojourn.

The opening piece is Metamorphosis, the title track is a proud, yet explorative composition, the artists piano gifts us a moment of realisation and a desire to explore and the artists flourishing style builds with an excitable energy that is simply addictive to listen to, a true page turner of a creation.

So our journey begins as we move Out of Eden, I adored the colourful textures of this track, one that would grow and become even more impactful as we follow man’s journey from its roots to lands new and fresh, Terry has manufactured something that crosses the borders of a cinematic soundtrack here, with a hint of the classical, and those minor touches, it just adds such a flavour to the proceedings.

Water is life; we search for days to find a safe haven which will Let Us Rest Beside the Cool Waters. The artists piano is his paint brush and the wistful magician creates a safe harbour of sorts for us to rest by; the performance on this track is wonderfully artistic and incredibly fluent, but also quite touching and tender as well.

Now for one of the most fascinating tracks off the album called Grandma's Good Ol' Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits. Terry takes us across the pond so to speak with this piece, a rag styled bluesy number which has all the elements of an old style homely composition, the presentation contains a happy refrain, doubtlessly inspired by the artists grandparents culinary talents.

Metamorphosis by Terry Lee Nichols is a 14 piece album of many moods and colours, tracks like A Day in the Life of a Cocktail Pianist, the title to this track says it all, it evokes a memory for me, sitting in the piano bar at Atlanta Hartsfield Airport, listening to a pianist pouring his heart out onto the keys, which in turn was hardly noticed by his wine drinking plane waiting audience, but then every so often a weary traveller would drop a few bucks into his brandy glass before heading off. The artist’s ability to evoke memories through music to be honest is amazing on what would be one of my personal favourites from the release.

Once Upon a Time is our next offering, Aristotle once said “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies” Nicholls quotes Hesse when he says “If I know what love is, it’s because of you” both valid appraisals indeed. On this creative arrangement, the musician plays from his heart to yours in an anthem that will remain emotively sublime for an eternity, a moving tapestry of sensitivity can be found here.

Bedtime Stories, it seems such a long time ago since I read my children night time tales, then to watch them drift off into a reverie of bliss, to see them close their eyes, smile and glide into wonderland, here Nichols creates the entire moment of time spent telling tales of magical creatures, good guys winning against bad ones, happy safe places in lands where all is calm and good, and does so all in just under four minutes, a story teller of great skill I hear you say.

The short form narrative of This Was Once a Love Poem is a delicate transformative arrangement that takes us lovingly into the arms of our next composition entitled The Dangling Conversation, the mood here is beyond the aforementioned transformative, and touches masterfully on a new beginning in the blooming stage, the performance here by Nichols is utterly sublime, played with passion and determination.

As we move deeper into the weave of the album we come across a colourful tapestry of tone and vibration entitled Barcelona, I reached over to turn up the volume on my speakers for this. For some reason this light seeking musical tale reminds me of my personal journey of immigration from the empty and stagnant realm of England, to the more relaxed, happy island of love in Cyprus, and as such, within this track the artist towards the end of the composition, seems to literally break free of the past, and brings about a total release, with a passion filled presentation which will leave your speechless.

Thinking Back, here lies a piece bathed in the energies of reflection, a doorway to a hall of memories, are they what we think they are, are our facts still right many years later, or have the memories been tainted by what was once and has now been lost, here Terry explores the musical narrative of manifesting music from memories past, and succeeds with a flourish, this has everything, joy, sadness, regret and gratitude, and all in an arrangement just under 4 minutes in duration, amazing!

I read the transcript that relates to this next track, and whilst I don’t live in the US, a lot can be garnered from the offering One Molecule Away from Madness. The madness of their last election of 2020, and the desire by some to return to the chaos of yesteryear, this song describes for me why I dislike politics with a passion so very much, musically this is a very clever track, you need to listen very carefully to this one as it contains, past, present and a worrying potential future.

The most charming of all songs can be heard on this very last manifestation, called The Long Goodbye. Nichols concludes this amazing new release with a tip of the hat to his father, and the immortality of love, a trait of tenderness we can teach that is positive and good, and one that should be unconditional too. This is a beautiful piece to finish with, and is solo piano at its very best and most expressive.

Metamorphosis by Terry Lee Nichols will take each and every listener on a journey that will enrich minds, inspire deeper thought, and thoroughly entertain all whose hearts are open for an epic musical experience. Albums of this standard and quality really do not come around that often, this is one to purchase, read all the liner notes, and just kick back and enjoy the trip to. Metamorphosis by Terry Lee Nichols is a solo piano soundscape of a masterful quality, in conception, creation, presentation and style, musical story telling at its apex best, and a must be purchase for any serious music aficionado.