Wednesday, January 31, 2024

The Rebirth By Kike de Santo


The Rebirth


Kike de Santo

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There is an extremely powerful sense of anticipation built into this whole new single entitled The Rebirth by Kike de Santo, from its inception one is literally on the edge for those whole six minutes plus, eager to see, hear and feel the outcome of this quite inventive and artistic new arrangement.

The electronic energies of this instrumental endeavour are wonderfully worked and mysterious in intent and mood, the artist swirls from various segments within this new creation, and this adds to the drama and mysticism of the actual piece itself.

At times it reminds me of a deep meditational manifestation, as its musical expression is both vast and exhilarating, the segment at just around 90 seconds is literally enticing, and soon a percussive beat is added into the heart beat of the track and this extra layer makes it an even more addictive composition, as it continues to play forever onward with its added middle eastern flavours.

The Rebirth by Kike de Santo is well named as the tone and timbre of the piece leads one to believe that this is actually developing as an eventual occurrence. It’s excellent to hear truly good new age music with a slight global fusion again, and the genre will be far better off for having The Rebirth by Kike de Santo in it.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Clarity By Lisa Cullum




Lisa Cullum

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Clarity is the latest release from pianist and composer Lisa Cullum and it is probably her best work thus far, this is a veritable neo-classical delight, a true treat to the ears and something to completely give oneself too, the whole composition and arrangement is a moving cinematic delight of bliss.

One can feel an ocean of Clarity open up on this new offering from the pianist, the string sections and segments are a delightful repose and an oasis of calmness, I for one could imagine diving into the deep clear seas of the Mediterranean here, and seeing the utter beauty of nature that lays almost unseen at times below.

It has been a pleasure to see the progress of a musician that came into my world back in 2020 through an album called Elle, and now on this marvellous musical stage 4 years later, she has released one of the most beautiful pieces of piano based music with orchestration that I have heard in this style for some years.

This is simply what instrumental and neo-classical music should be about, music to raise the senses and mood with perfect tonal reflection, and as such I can see Clarity by Lisa Cullum becoming extremely popular, not only on the charts, but with the eager army of piano music fans the world round, this is a single that is truly special.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Stiklestad By Ask Askr




Ask Askr

Written by

Steve Sheppard


This has to be one of the most fascinating and unique new singles I have had the pleasure of both listening to and writing a review for. Stiklestad by Ask Askr has some sublime instrumental moments within its arrangement and a historical narrative that relates to the country of Norway, in a truly special new single from the artists.

It’s excellent to see Ask Askr back on the scene again; I remember all too well their last successful single entitled Distant Veil. This post-rock ambient trio certainly know how to produce riveting material in a genre that is growing daily. Today they take us back in time to the Battle of Stiklestad; however it’s hard to believe, but back in the 9th century a nowadays peace filled Norway was ravaged by war, and under the reign of several kings, and rising up from the ashes there came about a civil holy war led by King Olaf II, which in time would bear the fruit of some interesting political and religious juxtapositions.

That you will have to research for yourself, but rest in the knowledge that you now have the soundtrack for that event through this new single, one with some sublime interchanges on guitar, and some extremely creative multi-instrumental moments of magic, this makes Stiklestad by Ask Askr not only one to watch, but an incredibly exciting new immersive instrumental single to thoroughly enjoy.

Friday, January 26, 2024

A Warrior's Love By Adelynn Shan Lee


A Warrior's Love


Adelynn Shan Lee

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There is always time for a haunting reverie, a moment of flute magic, a tonal vibration of great quality and tenderness, all of this and more can be found on this beautiful new single by Adelynn Shan Lee entitled A Warriors Love, this remarkable new single also captures the essence of a rain storm to perfection, something, and that trust me on this, that is not easy to get right.

Adelynn’s flute is mysterious and ethereal and reminds me of the style of flute that was so haunting in the ‘90’s from the UK’s Nigel Shaw. Here the performer can literally be seen in the mind’s eye performing this piece in the depth of a misty forest, and tones and cries from the flute drift across the boundaries of both time and tide.

Adelynn Shan Lee maybe a new name to me personally, but I have a feeling that this flute performer will be one that will be a main stay on broadcasts for weeks to come, the lingering and evocative notes that float from her flute are at times transcendent and moving, and as such I see this song being a big hit on the charts, and a much loved composition with flute fans all over our beautiful globe.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Respite: Music For Healing By Fred Grenot


Respite: Music For Healing


Fred Grenot

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Since Fred Grenot’s return to the new age music scene we have witnessed what may be the rebirth of the much loved music genre, Fred’s works have so far been absolutely splendid, deeply calming and beautifully produced, and it is within his work that we musically ramble today, and through the medium of an album called Respite: Music For Healing.

The opening piece is one of the most soothing musical narratives that Fred has ever published, and the crafted use of pause to elevate the tone and timbre on the opening piece called Unearthing is nothing more than genius, on an opening composition that sets the scene perfectly for a wondrously cathartic journey.

The following arrangement of great clarity and comfort is entitled Oubaitori, a Japanese word that loosely encourages individuals to embrace their own individuality and uniqueness. Fred’s performance on synths and keyboards does just that and much more, in a tranquil composition of blissful serenity.

The illustrious title track is now upon us in Respite, an early chord change within this piece sets a wonderfully fluent vista of sound and peace, the elevation of tone here is simply idyllic and utterly beautiful, this is some of the finest synth work I have heard in this style of music since the days of Steven Halpern or Liquid Mind, if you love those two, you will adore this.

There is a slight shift on this next piece that is very illuminating, the track is called Loved Ones Remembered, there is an energy in this composition that reminded me of ambient artist Laraaji and his Day of Radiance album, but within this track there is also a deeper level touched that has a certain Eno quality to its construction that makes it so very addictive to listen to, and to allow the music to wash over oneself.

We now take a tentative step into the latter half of the album and as we do so we come across a piece entitled Universe Unknown. Fred does indeed manifest a vast composition here that simply floats like a stellar nursery through the outer reaches of the musical galaxy. The synth and keyboard performance here has a duality about its construction that I adore, acknowledging the openness of the universe, whilst retaining a carefully constructed sense of mystery within the piece too.

This nine track album of ultra-healing properties now takes us on another course, this time to an offering called Katharsis. Never a better title has been given to a track that delivers so much healing and serenity, the deep tones of this specific piece would easily be the point when a listener would arrive at the portal of both release and healing, this piece alone is deeply touching by itself.

Omoiyari is our next sonic bath of delight and this is another Japanese word, but meaning sympathy and empathy, something we all should have in a balanced way, here Fred’s construction of this piece is like receiving permission to just close ones eyes relax and let go, and the keyboards and synths of the artist creates the perfect canvas with which to do just that.

The last but one creation is like a musical warm bath in a room illuminated by candles, the title is Chrysalis and perhaps alludes to our opportunity to break free from our self-imposed shell that protects us from hurt, and blossom into something far greater. The slow tempo here is amazing, the decrease in energy is artistically manifested to allow the listener to take the lead role and make the change to a track of dream like proportions.

We now conclude this journey with the artist and his brand new album with the final offering entitled At Ease. This is exactly what we are at this last juncture, this is the ultimate piece of the healing jigsaw, Grenot’s masterful ability to once more slow things down is utterly sublime, and once again the listener can be allowed to slowly awaken and feel a sense of total calm and peace.

Respite: Music For Healing by Fred Grenot is without doubt the best healing styled album I have heard for simply ages. The magic that the musician creates with his keyboards and synths is nothing short of miraculous; I would very much doubt there is a single listener in the world who would still feel stressed after listening to this new release of Fred’s, and as such I am more than willing to bet this is the start of something new and massive in the new age industry for Fred Grenot and through the medium of this incredible album Respite: Music For Healing it all starts, massive chart placements, and awards are simply sure to follow, but most of all, anyone who listens to this album has the opportunity to let go, enjoy and revel in some of the best synth, keyboard based new age music you are likely to have heard for absolutely decades.

Emigrate by Russ McRee




Russ McRee

Written by

Steve Sheppard


A new name heads my way with this brand new single entitled Emigrate by guitarist Russ McRee, in an exciting new composition which has a wonderfully cogent and fluent sense of multi-instrumentalism and artistry contained within. Russ on guitar makes magic, as his fast paced arrangement flows like a summer tide across the landscapes of a new land of musical colour.

The added percussion and keyboards gave the guitar based piece extra layers of musical dimensions that had passion, power and a slight intensity into the mix also, this is a song that will generate a level of excitement and anticipation, and the whole ethos and energy of the single reminds me of when I emigrated back in 2014 to my new country of Cyprus, the sense of a new journey in a new life is palpable within the constraints of this classy composition.

Emigrate by Russ McRee is an up-tempo instrumental guitar based offering of great quality, with certain sun kissed continental flavours whipped into a mix of fervent fun and excitement, this is indeed a stylish new creation by the artist, one that I think should do extremely well in the charts, and also within the hearts and minds of the enthusiastic listener.

Talking To Trees By The Song Gardeners


Talking To Trees


The Song Gardeners

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There comes a time when an artist or artists, manifest a new creation that is simply idyllic in every aspect, incredibly chilled in tone, and harmonically superior, this describes the latest single from The Song Gardeners perfectly; in fact I personally rate this to be my new personal favourite of theirs.

The slow build here is sublime, the chord changes timed to perfection, and the harmonious vocals of Corrie Dunn are utterly beautiful, as indeed are the soul filled harmonies of her partner in music Mary Gospe.

The perfect compositional structure would take me back to perhaps the late ‘90’s pop ballads, with a perfectly balanced arrangement, and vocally exceptional presentation, and composed with a high class mix of major and minor refrains, in a similar way with which the band Crowded House used to do back in the day.

I must also mention the excellent acoustic guitar performance by David Scheibner, his contribution gave the whole song a quite breath taking level of tranquillity and style, and as such I truly believe that Talking To Trees by The Song Gardeners is the best work thus far by the band, and deserves much acclaim along the way, perhaps even a very high chart placement, it certainly deserves it.

The Song Gardeners also have a lyric video for the single too, it is like a virtual forest bathing experience and you can find that here:

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The Small Hours By Orchestra Indigo


The Small Hours


Orchestra Indigo

Written by

Steve Sheppard


This new release from Rick Randlet as Orchestra Indigo has to be one of the most fascinating albums I have listened to thus far this year, and entitled The Small Hours. We are taken back to the lock down times of the pandemic and the loneliness of a single man, who now has copious amounts of hours and days of isolation to ponder his life’s path and how he arrived at the destination he now finds himself at.

The album itself is music that demands to be listened to, as it artistically sums up what many of us were feeling and thinking during those dark days, and each track of the 11 on the album are manifested to such a wonderfully high quality of both presentation and of performance, like the opening piece called Midnight. Here is a track that contains all the haunting vibrations of the early hours of the morning, when sleep becomes the unwilling partner and the mind a more able creator of a hatful of confusing scenarios. The artist paints a wonderful canvas of trepidation and aloneness with his keyboards on this splendid opening creation.

As the seconds and minutes pass the thoughts become darker and starker, here on Moments Of Uncertainty Randlet manifests a sublime creation of great foreboding, whilst on After The Rain, a certain neo-ambience can be found on a fluent and thoroughly creative offering.

This has to be one of the most unique albums I have heard for ages; in part it reminds me of the construction and storytelling style of an old Mike Rutherford album called Small Creeps Day back in the late ‘70’s. Tracks like Meditation On Departed Friends hits home hard, I mean we are still going through it now, wondering just who we have and had lost to this pandemic, the orchestration here is riveting, while on pieces like 4:44 AM Blues we have a soundtrack for those moments when you wake and it happens to be the same time every morning, a singular most evocative and melancholy energy can be found here.

The concluding musical narrative is entitled Day Spring, within the constraints of this piece one can indeed find all of the hope we would eventually regain, and this vibrational creation is the perfect musical watercolour with which to leave this incredibly moving and artistic compilation of great music with.

The Small Hours by Orchestra Indigo tackles a time that many have already forgotten, or who wish to now ignore, but was a very real threat to our lives and all power and respect to Rick for doing so, but in the production of this album we don’t just have a homage to those dark days and hours, we have an album that for me borders on the lands of genius and crafted artistry. I would urge anyone to get this album and sit alone with it for the whole of the release, and simply give gratitude that you are able to do so. A sublime and deeply moving album indeed.

Crossroads By Paul Vens & Friends




Paul Vens & Friends

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There have been many songs with the title of Crossroads, one from a blues artist that is still a standard today, and then there is a crafted folk styled almost pop narrative that has been recently released by Paul Vens and his friends, one that takes us in a totally different direction, one that has a certain charm and beauty all of its own.

This new single from Paul is easily the most commercial I have ever heard from the artist, and should be much loved by not only the folk community, but also by the lovers of new age music too, this is a very enjoyable musical offering that illustrates perhaps that we all come to a Crossroads within our lives, and then decisions therefore have to be made.

The percussion and guitar driven narrative within this new single is truly excellent and makes for some good listening, the melodic structure and the elevated chorus line reminded me slightly of how Dire Straits used to create such arrangements in the 80’s, but the added female vocalisations add an extra level to the song along with the strings, which enhance the overall composition wonderfully.

Crossroads by Paul Vens & Friends is well worth a listen, it is without doubt one of the finest works I have heard thus far from the artist, and as such it would not surprise me if a really good chart position wasn’t found for it, as this song is both very addictive and beautifully manifested.

Precious Moments By Ryan Judd


Precious Moments


Ryan Judd

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Ryan Judd has taken the acoustic guitar to new levels of ambient tranquillity, and over the past few years has established himself as being one of the finest proponents of meditative healing music using this instrumentation in the world today.

The good news is that Ryan has a brand new single out, this offering is entitled Precious Moments and his delicate and thoughtful performance illustrates perfectly the subject matter. This is simply one of the most pristine manifestations of an acoustic guitar performance I think I have ever heard, and as such it should be a cathartic journey for many listeners.

The smooth production and overall tone and energy of this piece is ultra-serene, and almost haunting at times but in an extremely positive way, this song is like reconnecting with a wonderfully happy memory in nature, perhaps by a lake, and then literally being taken back there once again through the medium of the music.

Ryan Judd’s careful and considerate approach to his performances are extremely appreciated, and as such I have a feeling that this new release is going to be embraced by the global listenership, and become a much appreciated meditative moment of bliss for each and every one of them.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Memories in January By James Michael Stevens


Memories in January


James Michael Stevens

Written by

Steve Sheppard


January for me, and I would imagine many others across the northern hemisphere, is a hard time to deal with, long dark nights, weeks without any sun and much more, it also seems such a long way until we reach those sun lit uplands of a tentative spring, however here James Michael Stevens has taken the subject of this month of torpor, and manifested something so very moving and heart felt on this his latest album, Memories in January.

One only has to listen to the delicate and soothing tones of the first track off the album to appreciate the month just that little more. When Roses in Winter are Blue is a pristine opening piece that radiates a certain warmth from the keys, and a certain energy of love from the tone and timbre of the performance.

We now find our next track and this is called Theme from Whisper Lake, I have many memories about waterways and lakes, some sad, some happy, but like water always moving onward, this presentation is simply idyllic, a perfect performance on piano by James, sees the artist play with a hat full of memories with such a kindly composition.

I must say that our next piece entitled Starlight Beams Across a Silver Sky, must surely one of the most beautiful and melodic pieces I have ever heard from the pianist. This could easily be a song like Misty was back in the day for Ella Fitzgerald; this arrangement brings a wonderful performance of a reflective moment in time with its careful build and progression and its tender, harmonious tones, and gentle wonderfully sweet coda.

On Cloud Ridge there is a real element of a vast vista, of an emotional location where feelings were most truly felt. The performance by James is utterly moving and very deeply touching. This album so far has been far deeper than any that have come before, and like this particular track incredibly emotionally stirring.

We now move to the mid-way section of the album as we reach the offering entitled When Wings Fly Away. The slow tempo has some nice minor chord changes within its composition that make it so attractive, and when the uplifting major chords flow, we are gifted something quite cathartic to behold and of course, to enjoy.

The water of life drifts across the banks of our lives, and as it settles so do we, in the calm caress of nature’s loving embrace. On Meditation at Mirror Lake we have a moment that seems to reflect my aforementioned statement perfectly. I have used many a beautiful lake to meditate by and gain some meaningful balance from, and music like this composition would have been perfect for those occasions.

Snow Petals is our next musical portrait; the repeating motif here was the perfect presentational style to use to illustrate the delicate nature of a snow fell petal. This calm and most innocent of arrangements drifts and floats with such ease, and one can honestly say it is one of the most fluent pieces off the release, whilst Ode to a Galician Twilight has a depth that and a shady duskiness all of its own, this flavoursome and almost cinematic manifestation is true memory palace of a composition.

Amazingly we arrive at the penultimate piece off the release and this wondrous creation is named Dreams Drift Away, the performance by the pianist here is twofold, one can feel a sense of an emotive farewell, a time past is perhaps releasing, whilst a blissful sense of a letting go can also be found, and at the bottom of this wonderful presentation we can find a little musical parcel wrapped up with but one word only written on the label, love.

The concluding song is called Memory of a Lullaby, this is a heart felt goodbye and a contemplative arrangement of great quality, and one must say at this point simply the best way with which to leave one of the most passionate and moving albums ever created by the artist.

Memories in January by James Michael Stevens is without a shadow of a doubt the artists best work thus far, it is also the hardest subject to write about, the month of January, but James has manifested 10 tracks that are reflective, emotive and incredibly absorbing, one can imagine that many who listen to this album will take solace and comfort from its most cathartic of journeys and simply float with some of the most heartfelt solo piano manifestations from the artist thus far.

Friday, January 19, 2024

A Day On Venus By Michelle Qureshi


A Day On Venus


Michelle Qureshi

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There are few around today that completely understand what ambient music actually is, and is about, however those few who do exist are at the top of their game, and probably the most successful female artist among them is Michelle Qureshi, and her latest offering of sublime music called A Day On Venus is that wonderful moment of ambient bliss we have all been waiting for with utter joy.

Here we have an album packed with 18 tracks of transcendent music, and each piece, each composition, will transport you to a place of peace and serenity with the ease of a new dawn, like the opening manifestation entitled Stars By The Pocketful. Never before has such musical delicacy created so much, with each note played on Qureshi’s acoustic guitar being a drop of sweet nectar from the gods of Olympus themselves, this was the perfect start for the album and reminded me in part of a classical guitarist friend of mine in Jason Carter.

There are many tracks that are familiar to us as they were originally released as singles, such as the indigenous mood of pieces like Luminous Fields, which sees the artist back on her flute, a favourite of mine in the delicious Belonging Here, a mood filled opus with reflections from the days of songs like Stairway To Heaven, and the Latin vibes of the mystical Mayan Trails, among many others single releases on this quite amazing album.

Qureshi’s skill set is rare, she has that amazing ability to manifest musical soundtracks to simple everyday events and make them literally come alive, like the piece Light Rain. While on the penultimate track off the album the lady of pure ambience manifests something incredibly special via the composition Wondrous, and indeed it is, combining elements of guitar, synths and keyboards, in what could easily be the start to a classic progressive rock manifestation, here is a woman who is so in tune with her muse it is a delightful thing to see and hear.

The conclusion to this vast and creative body of work comes in the guise of the final gift Walk At Dusk, a gentle acoustic guitar track to ease the soul and calm the mind, a delightfully classy way with which to leave this splendid album.

 A Day On Venus by Michelle Qureshi is the release many of us have been waiting eagerly to hear, there are 18 tracks of outstanding natural beauty here for you to enjoy, and each and every one of them has a mood, a tale, a tone and a dimension of relaxation for you to simply fall into and enjoy.

This must be Michelle Qureshi’s finest work to date; this is an instrumental paradise that even Milton wouldn’t have lost, no one can ever doubt that the world in Michelle Qureshi, has a musician that is so filled with an abundance of musical joy it is simply unrestrainable, and as such this album should be required listening for any up and coming ambient musician and a massive hit on the charts.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Reflections By Shambhu





Written by

Steve Sheppard


Shambhu is without doubt one of my favourite guitarists in this modern day and age, I have adored many musical giants of this instrument throughout the years, but in Shambhu we have a soul who can manifest such soothing musical narratives, and bring a level of tranquillity that few can match, whilst still telling us a musical story, that’s quite an art, and he does it so beautifully.

The guitars of Shambhu are a timeless revere to be worshipped, the mixture of pristine notes and the flavoursome chords of minor and major, all float in the pastiche of an incredibly colourful composition.

The piece does exactly what it says on the can and is indeed a very reflective offering, one can with ease imagine sitting by the coast watching the winter waves break the surface, whilst cumulus clouds drift upon a blue January sky, and perhaps thoughts of a dear friend drift past on distant summer memories.

Reflections by Shambhu is one of those singles that you could leave on repeat for hours and not even notice the time pass by, it is a soothing palate of delicious tones and vibrations, bathed in a memory filled tapestry of serenity and peace. This my friends is acoustic bliss.

If Only Once More by Seeking The Sublime & Shere Fraser


If Only Once More


Seeking The Sublime & Shere Fraser

Written by

Steve Sheppard


When you have had an incredibly stress filled day or week, and lately that’s been the way for us here, for months now actually, its music like this that you turn to, with a combination of gentle piano and delicate thoughtful flute Seeking The Sublime & Shere Fraser gave me a moment of calm serenity though the medium of their latest single If Only Once More, an incredibly sensitive new offering from the duo.

This new single took me back to the golden age of new age music, when artists like Lanz and Oldfield ruled the roots; the harmonic keyboards create a mild, but pertinent orchestration, whist the flute of Fraser is some of the most tranquil and charming offerings from that instrument I have heard for some time.

This is new age music at its very best, and whenever there is new music on offer from this partnership, you just know it is going to be, not just good, but utterly great, in my view they have even surpassed that, and in doing so brought to the world a new single that is a cathartic, emotional and heartfelt journey of great joy respect and gratitude.

If Only Once More by Seeking The Sublime & Shere Fraser must surely be a massive hit on the charts, and a huge panacea of peace for all who have the good sense to embrace its beautiful tones.

The Gloam of Love by Victor Birkan


The Gloam of Love


Victor Birkan

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There is a delicate sensitivity within this latest single by Victor Birkan that is so appealing, the creation is entitled The Gloam Of Love, and one can literally be taken on a slow but assured journey with this music, this is one of the most inventive and fascinating singles that the artist has created in my view, as we can feel throughout the performance a multitude of emotions coming to the surface.

The piece starts with a tentative progression, one that is repeated and emphasised with great skill, then a fluent and onward movement through keys and chords can be found until a happy and light refrain is located, at this point the artist births a most colourful melody, with a deft touch and extra power just when it is needed.

Birkan’s performance is simply splendid; it’s a soundtrack to a romantic segment in an old black and white movie, and a timeless arrangement that can be played out in the musical shadows of the romantic era for eons.

The Gloam of Love by Victor Birkan may well be one of the best manifestations that the artist has brought to the world thus far and as such well worthy of your time to take a listen; this is simply one of the finest examples of felt piano around today.

Oltremare By Mihail Tarlev




Mihail Tarlev

Written by

Steve Sheppard


The haunting refrains of this latest offering from Mihail Tarlev floated over me this morning, I thought about the days when I travelled extensively, and I pondered my current location to that of my family, and understood that this title and its contents created a mini soundtrack for those mental perambulations of mine.

Oltremare whilst being a colour is an Italian word that means overseas, and regarding myself that is totally true, Tarlev has also manifested on felt piano a very listenable and captivating arrangement, one I have listened to at least seven times in a row now.

The gentle and emotive performance is smooth and beautifully performed, and leaves one with a mood of passive reflection and acceptance. I have been hearing some encouraging creations on felt recently, and this track is certainly one of the most accomplished and enjoyable this year with ease.

Oltremare by Mihail Tarlev is a romantic composition, one that almost captures the tenderness and delicate structures of compositions penned by the master Felix Mendelssohn, this piece is utterly beautiful and should indeed be a big hit for anyone who desires to be filled with music that is both exquisite in tone, and in timbre.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Album Leaf: Piano Works by Felix Mendelssohn By Sophia Agranovich


Album Leaf: Piano Works by Felix Mendelssohn


Sophia Agranovich

Written by

Steve Sheppard


When it comes to classical piano there can be no doubt that Ukrainian born Sophia Agranovich is a power to be reckoned with, after the releases that featured the works of such luminaries as Chopin, Beethoven and Liszt, she sets her musical sights in the direction of another giant of the classical world and of the romantic era in Felix Mendelssohn, with her latest release Album Leaf: Piano Works by Felix Mendelssohn.

The opening movement of three starts with Fantasia in F-sharp minor, Op. 28 a gentle but flourishing opening is built superbly upon by the artist, a proud and deft segment follows partnered by an almost mysterious andante, this builds once more into a dramatic and climatic presentation, which then floats into a more moderate and mellow conclusion. Fantasia op. 28, II soon follows; we can be swept off our feet with this dance like second movement, whilst the last piece of the progression entitled Fantasia op. 28, III is a fast paced and sizzling performance, with a coda that is simply thrilling and exciting within all of its aspects.

The title track Album Leaf is now upon us and this incredibly memorable composition brings back many memories from many years passed. This piece was originally published back in 1872, but thought to have been penned much earlier; here Agranovich conjures up a memory palace of a performance with senses and flavours of the ethereal, in a passionate manifestation that exudes copious amounts of both warmth and love.  

Caprice in A minor is our next arrangement; Mendelssohn once roamed the lands of my birth in England with his friend Karl Klingemann, this is very much a dedication to him, and a somewhat fascinating composition. It seems packed with mixed emotions, moods and feelings, as the moods are manifested in music and build upon a narrative of romance, passion and conflict, in one of the most creative presentations on the album by Agranovich.

On the longest of offerings from the release in the composition Variations serieuses; we find an arrangement that contains a set of 17 variations on a theme in D minor, each of these most serious works are truly something the listener must take their time with and follow the essences of a varied reality of moods that are constructed within each variation, including tragedy, passion, pure honesty and consolation.

Three Etudes, Op. 104b is next on our listing of illustrious works and included with it are No. 1 in B-flat minor - Presto sempre, No. 2 in F Major – Allegro con moto, No. 3 in A minor – Allegro vivace. For me this is the very beauty of Mendelssohn, a perfect balance between genius and technical mastery, B Flat Minor creates some of the most melodic and mood filled pieces you are ever likely to hear from the composer, whilst F Major as you would expect manifests a sense of happiness, leaving the concluding movement A Minor to playfully dance with Staccato energies.

Our penultimate offering is Etude in F minor, this charming, and expressive creation flows like spring water from a mountain rivulet, and its articulate and enthralling compositional structure is a simple yet a wonderful delight, and one may add, perfectly played by the pianist.

The conclusion to this master work comes in the guise of the final piece entitled Rondo Capriccioso, and with all honesty, never has there been a more beautiful and romantic creation with which to end an album with. Agranovich feels each and every note played, with a sublime attractive and intelligent performance on the piano.  

Album Leaf: Piano Works by Felix Mendelssohn by Sophia Agranovich is classically stunning, it’s a vast body of work that has been presented and played with such precision and craft by the artist. Sophia is without doubt one of the most accomplished classical pianists of her day, and here on this brand new collection of works by Mendelssohn, she shines like the midday sun, this album is guaranteed to be a sure fire hit with listeners and classical music aficionados alike the globe over.

Monday, January 15, 2024

The Courage of Despair Orchestral (Tribute to Ukraine) By Paul Long


The Courage of Despair Orchestral (Tribute to Ukraine)


Paul Long

Written by

Steve Sheppard


The utter pointlessness of war, the devastation, and the misery it unfurls upon countless families and individuals is graphically shown in this latest neo-classical styled opus by musician Paul Long, and all within his latest single The Courage of Despair Orchestral (Tribute to Ukraine).  This powerful and emotive composition resonates through the halls of desperation and echoes across the deserted wastelands of military strife, and is a veritable soundtrack of courage in the face of great despair.

Paul orchestral composition is a deep well of emotion that rides on the back of a conflict that like Vietnam seems never ending, however through music one can always find something to heal the moment, to gain strength from the darkness of days. The slow almost Pavane like construction illustrates the subject matter perfectly, but as always there is something vast and never ceasing that lies beneath the tones, one power that is the undeniable, the strength and courage of the human spirit.

I believe that Paul Long has created that aforementioned spirt within the confines of his new offering, and as such this mood filled and passionate piece should resonate with the listeners, and hopefully like me, move them greatly. This should be one track that will rise to the top and be recognised for the anthem it could truly be. 

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Beneath the Moon By Pamela Mortensen


Beneath the Moon


Pamela Mortensen

Written by

Steve Sheppard


This new song and single by Pamela Mortensen is a rare treat, the new age and folk styled vibrations that come from Beneath the Moon are much appreciated, and the sweetness of the creation and its narrative doubly so. At times this song pulled me back to the 70’s with some of the more acoustic progressive rock elements, and bands like Renaissance would spring to mind.

The appeal within this quite outstanding song is the freedom contained within, we willingly complicate our lives with both technology and drama, and seemingly forget the simply things that life has to offer, the things that are always there, like walking Beneath the Moon, feeling the wind on our faces, and the sun on our bodies, all free and uncomplicated.

Pamela Mortensen’s song therefore is perhaps a timely reminder to us all to slow down and enjoy what we have whilst we still have it, and perhaps be grateful for it as well; the guitar, the vocals and production quality make this new single utterly superior and deeply listenable, and the tone and timbre from its arrangement is both uplifting and meditative, this for me is a must buy or stream for fans of real music from a very real musician, and it gets a total thumbs up from me.

Winterfelt Piano By James Michael Stevens


Winterfelt Piano


James Michael Stevens

Written by

Steve Sheppard


One of the most prolific pianists currently is James Michael Stevens; his creative muse is alight with fresh and new compositions for us to enjoy, but today James has gone one further, and taken the felt piano to new heights with his latest release entitled Winterfelt Piano, in a remarkable new collection of very creative compositions.

This album for me is remarkable, as I have struggled with felt piano music, but here on this brand new offering the artist has brought to life a style and a performance that is not only deeply listenable, but is very addictive too; tracks like the opening piece simply entitled No.1 are mesmeric, and a haunting quality that you would likely find in a Tim Burton movie soundtrack can be found here as well.

Each of the 10 pieces are numbered as such, and the whole experience is simply beautiful and at times transcendent in an energetic sense, tracks that hooked me in this way would be the ever uplifting narrative of No.3 and the charm and warmth of No5, a delightful combination of crafted keys, chords and notes can be found here.

James has manifested such a depth of tranquillity in this album that when one listens to its contents, we can instantly find that sweet calm spot and just go with the flow into a piano heaven; arrangements of note with regard to this would be the offering No.8 where a crisp light refrain can be found, with an icy crystalline motif, whilst the concluding track off the album in No.10 was sublime at creating a deeper more thoughtful reflective moment of piano pleasure.

This is an album that once it has you hooked it’s likely to never let you go, there can also be no doubt that James Michael Stevens is one of the most contemplative pianists around today, one can always be assured that when a new album is on offer, that the quality contained within is going to be of the highest level, as such I can see a very big hit being on the cards for Winterfelt Piano by James Michael Stevens, as in my view, and I don’t say this lightly, this album represents the best ever presentation of a felt piano performance that I personally have ever heard. 

Bliss By Anaya Music




Anaya Music

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Anaya is an accomplished contemporary instrumentalist of great style and quality, and today there is a new moment of happiness to be found within her music as we step forward and go on a musical voyage with her and her latest release entitled Bliss.

Over the years the artist has employed rich flavours of tone within her music, and here on her starting arrangement 2022 we see that in great depth, a wonderfully designed opening piece can be found in this track, and some very delicious chord changes too; this piece is the bridge to this 16 track album and offerings like Life, which appear to have even more depth and musical saturation, with an almost neo classical motifs are a wonderful gift for us all.

The fluency of this album and tracks like Compassion suggest to me that Anaya has created her best release so far, each and every aspect of the compositional structures are very easy on the ears and mind, and the aforementioned track also has a lush meditative quality as well.

Tracks about Sunday are always a pleasure to compose and listen to, and here the keyboards of Anaya have captured that laid back easy feeling that one can only get on a Sunday morning, whilst offerings akin to the piece Insight have a powerful refrain and a serious onward movement contained within. This track is filled with intent and purpose as well as being calmly balanced and creatively manifested.

There can be no doubt that Anaya crosses genres with ease, and on the track I Love You we see that new age styled piano combined with a more neo-classically pronounced motif, whilst the key elements of a great contemporary instrumental piece are neatly contained within.

The concluding track is entitled Morning Angel of Light and is one of the most sensitive creations on the album, and a sublime way with which to end the project. Anaya and her latest manifestation Bliss is a treat for the ears and food for the musical soul, the calmness and tranquillity that this new release offers is well worth obtaining, and as such I see no reason why this album shouldn’t be a big hit on the charts for the artist.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Dreamworlds: A Retrospective By Jon Richards


Dreamworlds: A Retrospective


Jon Richards

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Instrumentalist, composer and all round sublime musician Jon Richards is back, and with that return to the scene, is the release of a vast body of work the artists refers to as Dreamworlds: A Retrospective, it is this mammoth volume of musical brilliance from throughout his years, that we will voyage with today.

There are a multitude of influences within this album, and from many genres too, the opening piece is a fine example of that delicate but forward thinking style of music in Gates of the Sun, a soft pastiche of rhythm hits the listeners ears, and instantly they can be transported to a land and a time of the Inca’s, a fluent and pertinent acoustic Latin guitar, joins in an effervescent combo of keyboards and percussion to bring us our most delightful starting point.

This voyage of plenty allows us to drift in the time waves of one of my personal favourites from the album entitled The Triple Goddess, again Richards’s style and compositional structures take us back through the ages into a time when seasons were explained spiritually, as here in the Hellenistic area of the globe we can acknowledge Robert Graves, whom once stated that Hecate was the "original" and most predominant ancient triple moon goddess. Jon’s delightful and chilled tones gift us on this track a reflective Celtic feel to a sublime composition.

A total shift now occurs through the medium of the next piece entitled Tibetan Spirit, the harmonic and mysterious vibrations here mix a far eastern vibration as we glide on the thermals of the Himalayan Mountains, the flute and percussion add to a gentle vocalisation, to allow us to thoroughly enjoy a beautiful meditative offering.

There can be no doubt that Jon Richards is a talented artist, only he paints with music instead of brushes, and his canvas is the willing and open minds and ears of his listeners, tracks like Asphodel Meadows. In a book I am currently reading, the Odyssey, Homer refers to this land as a place where the majority of mortal souls go to after death; this has such a pertinent beat redolent of the area, and a drifting like narrative that weaves within spiritual dimensions and settles for mid world.

Song of the Seasons is a graceful and high spirited next offering for us to enjoy, the uplifting energy within this fine piece is accepted thoroughly and enjoyed completely, the multi-instrumental flavour of this gave me pause for thought, and its underpinned Celtic narrative and superior quick to reach melody, made me think that this very track could well be a fine single release for the artists if he were to do so.

This has been such an enjoyable ride so far and thank fully we still have many paths through this musical woodland of dreams to travel, such as these next two arrangements entitled, Kunlun - Part 1 and Part 2. This geographical region gives us one of the longest mountain chains on the planet and forms the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Richards manifests perfection here on one of the most ambient creations from the album, and one piece that smoothly transfers its energies into the following with such grace and tranquillity, one must also add that they are so very redolent of the subject matter, with the latter containing a slight prog element in its early inception too.

The Sacred Tree was always one of my favourite Jon Richards tracks; listening to this immediately transports me back to the Middle Ages, the drum, the rhythm and the Celtic mood is with us once again, in a similar way that Medwyn Goodall did back in ‘98 with his Clan: A Celtic Journey album. Richards has once again captured the moment magically, and his skill set of drawing the perfect musical narrative is well made.

The seasons change, we are currently heading towards Midwinter ourselves, and as such this track at the midway stage of the album fits today perfectly for me, it is called Winterlight. The slow pace of this track is a perfect depiction of this time of year, and Richards’s keyboard pulls a mournful and brooding energy from its tone and timbre, this ambient musical moment of magic is the perfect respite of introspection at this current point of the album.

We can now take one tentative step into the latter half of the release, and as we do so we come across a glistening new age styled arrangement entitled Nature Spirits, it is so good to hear something so calming and yet uplifting from this genre, the percussive elements mixed with flute and keyboards made this a real new age treat to enjoy.

Each piece on this amazing album is rich with colour and filled with a flavour of a musical tapestry you could only dream of, Crossing The River may well be one of those tracks that fulfils your dreams. A slow rhythmic passage could well be the boatman’s oars leading you onward and across the River Styx, regardless, this is another masterfully artistic composition from the musician, one that leads us perfectly into the arms of the following moment of musical genius.

That very song is something we seem to be in need of each year here in Cyprus, and called Waiting for Rain. A soothing narrative accompanies a huge thunderclap; we’re very much on for one of those in the next few hours we hope, here Richards raises the rhythms and manifests a wonderfully fluent and flowing arrangement through the medium of his keyboards, with some careful yet inspiring minor moments of sublime magic as well.

Sunrise over Ganden is our next offering and another favourite of mine, the eastern influence here is superb, again I must reiterate the artist’s brilliance at drawing such compelling musical narratives. The flute and the whole vibration of this specific piece reminded me in part of Terry Oldfield’s Zen: The Search for Enlightenment album from ‘91, but warmer. However when we reach a piece called Evening Prayer we come across a composition that takes us back to a more spiritual time, and perhaps even around a camp fire with elders. The slow and careful keyboards almost create a respectful dance with the percussion and flute sounds that reverberate within this most stunning offering.

We can find other also deeply spiritual tracks such as the Tibetan Wheel of Becoming or the almost hypnotic Spirt Walk, both pieces transport ones senses to the otherworld, to another realm of tranquillity and calm, the softness of Richard’s musical palate is a wonderful thing to behold here, we can close our eyes, and with ease float into a state of meditative bliss with utter comfort.

Jon’s massive body of work certainly does mark his return to the genre of new age and instrumental music, and tracks like the penultimate offering entitled Roof of the World illustrates his intent perfectly, a vast offering with the sounds of the wind drifting around the mountain ranges gift us a pictorial and idyllic image within our minds eyes, this is Richards at his best and most artistic.

I find it hard to tear myself away from this album, but I now have no choice as our voyage ends with this last gift from the artist entitled White Willow, we can leave this experience with a graceful last offering, but full in the knowledge that one of the finest musicians within the aforementioned genre is back, and this incredible body of work represents all that the musician has given us so far, is but an announcement of a future intent of glorious things to come indeed.

Dreamworlds: A Retrospective by Jon Richards isn’t just a good album; it’s a superb collection of carefully crafted instrumental music that should be fit for purpose for any serious music aficionado’s library or streaming playlist, you cannot fault this oceanic sized compilation of master works by Jon Richards, there literally is something for everyone on this most creative of releases.