Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Dreamscapes By James Michael Stevens




James Michael Stevens

Written by

Steve Sheppard


James Michael Stevens is one of the most prolific writers and performers of gentle solo piano works around, and what’s more each and every album release is original, calming and a simple delight to listen to, so the same can be said easily about his latest manifestation entitled Dreamscapes.

The delightful soft pastiche of textures starts with the opening track Starlight Serenade, a gentler opening composition you will not find anywhere, simply perfection to begin our mellow journey. This voyage moves to the next piece called Silver Stream, this however is a more energetic opus, but only in its more elevated status and higher notes, one could with ease depict a mountain stream in late March with this piece.

Reflection at Red Bay is our next musical harbour, the melodic structures here are both reflective and soothing; the music reminded me of what you would find in a romantic segment in a movie, whilst on Pastel Sky we have a more ambient creation all together, this composition is brilliantly created and for me depicts the vista of an early autumn sky.

We now move to a transitionary offering called Prelude Simplice, this respectful slice of calm manifests a form of beauty we once heard from other pianists back in the day, those quiet moments of a rare peace and solitude are well found within the realms of this lovely creation.

There is a certain power and intent in this next arrangement entitled Purple Wave, the tones flow from James’s piano, like the caress of a warm spring afternoon; one can also feel through the artist performance a certain happiness that seems to spill out graciously to all.

Moments of reflective and almost meditative serenity can be found on this next manifestation called Silently 'Neath the Willow Tree. The mood of performance will bring us visuals of happier days, perhaps by the river under a Willow tree, regardless this is yet another tranquil and emotive offering from the pianist.

We slide into Birch Grove now, this piece has a blissful sense of mystery about its compositional structure, one that is deeply intriguing, the minor chords and notes add layer upon layer of enigmatic pleasure in one of the most film score styled pieces from the release.

I have always wanted to go to Venice, but until I do, I will listen to this track entitled Twilight in Venice in an effort to travel vicariously, this slow and tempered offering is a boat-man’s delight, one with ease could imagine a gentle ride with a loved one along the waterways at night in Venice to this one.

Our concluding musical narrative is called Memories Drift Quietly, this time piece of an offering is almost mesmeric, one can get lost within the tick and tock of this compelling composition, but the pianists always soothing approach transforms this final arrangement into an almost lullaby offering, and of course what an idyllic way with which to end such a beautiful album.

Monday, March 25, 2024

From The Stars By Russ Jones


From The Stars


Russ Jones

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Russ Jones has to be one of the most artistic and an inventive flautist of his day, with each release one cannot wait to hear what he has come up with this time around. This 13 track collection of crafted pieces is entitled, From The Stars and is one of the most ethereal and vast bodies of work he has thus far produced.

The opening piece is called As I Know and it has to be one of the most expansive manifestations from the artist of all time, the flow of tone from the flute seems to drift into an echo chamber of time itself, and reverberates around our senses with an energy of perfection.

As we move onward She Knows brings us an ambient repose, and allows the listener a chance to just be, in a blissfully meditative composition, while on Outer lines a more ethnic styled opus can be found, the shape of tone and timbre here is almost haunting in its structures, and in part reminds me of the earlier works of Terry Oldfield.

The sharper vibrations of Sunlite Shining certainly raises the rhythms of the album completely, and perhaps even allows us to see the shadows and fractal formations in a piece that is wonderfully peace filled and soothing.

We approach one of the most melodious compositions from the album and it’s called Lonely Stars, one cannot help but to love this piece, it reminds me of my days in the dusk of my childhood, watching the night sky become clear and real on a summers evening, and gazing at the beauty unfurling above me.

Russ is without doubt an accomplished performer and creator, and on this somewhat deeper and darker track entitled Orbits, we see that in abundance. One can even feel the gentle rotation of the globe, and watch our moons orbit dance around us in this delightfully tempered and tranquil creation.

Now we drift literally into the latter half of the album as we reach the piece Reaching Beyond the Stars, for me this is one of those aforementioned expansive pieces, the sheer vast quality of tone that Jones creates here is splendid, and as such allows the listener time to fully embrace the textures of this crafted solo flute composition.

The more mysterious energies of Collision come now to our attention; this has a mournful quality that is both reflective, yet inevitable, this deeply moving offering depicts for me a certain coming together of two sources. Whilst on Inner Reaches the heavy curtains of uncertainty are pulled back, this huge composition once more reminded of the work of Oldfield, but also whilst listening to the flute, images of a whale would come to the fore in one of the most fascinating pieces from the release.

The next open doorway to brilliance is the clever and craftily performed offing of Warbling Lights, there is a shimmering essence to this track that I find delightfully compelling, almost like watching a heat hazed horizon in mid-summer.

Rotating is our next track and a piece that can be found deep into the weave and tapestry of this sublime album, in an almost Deuter styled performance. Jones brings us a moment of meditative magic, with a track that inspires serenity and motion, a track that would be perfectly suited perhaps for a Tai Chi practise.

We find ourselves now at the penultimate piece off the release and its title is Lonely Times. We may detect a thoughtful movement here, perhaps a cry of sadness, but here on this memory filled arrangement we are gifted a delicate performance that needs to be listened to multiple times over to garner the nature of construction, and to enjoy those artistic nuances contained within.

So we’re knocking on the last door to the album, this one is called Inside and is another fascinating offering that creates a mood of apprehension and caution, but also one of a slow movement forwards whilst making new inner discoveries, but regardless a truly compelling and mysterious conclusion to a superb album.

From The Stars by Russ Jones is a master work of solo flute designed to take the listener on a journey of sight and sound, allowing this most grateful audience a chance to slow down, be calm and enjoy a transformative flute presentation. There can be no doubt that Russ Jones is one of the world’s most artistic flute content creators, and as such I have no shadow of a doubt that From The Stars by Russ Jones is going to be a huge hit on the global charts, it is that good.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Wonder Moments By Mad Dog Friedman


Wonder Moments


Mad Dog Friedman

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Mad Dog Friedman has been on a journey, that voyage is life and all that encompasses this exploration that we all take jointly, however his flute is his trusty friend along this weaving path of emotions, and this latest album entitled Wonder Moments is a 15 track release that allows the listener to delve into the realm, moods and insights of the artist through both his musical performance and his audible musings.

Each piece has a title, but the journey is so personal it’s better to refer to each manifestation in the sum of the entire total of the collection of artistic pieces, however for me, one of the most descriptive offerings can be found on Lesson In The Garden, the listener can be truly transported into this beautiful moment of great colour, textures and even scents.

On Memory Care, a tender prose to time passing and aging can be found, whilst on As the Star Go Out, time and tide passes further in an almost entropy styled opus, an emotive, yet accepting nuanced composition of great awareness.

This entire album is filled with deep insights and observations, and those audio segments symbiotically flow with Mad Dogs most harmonious flute, the tone and style of this album remind me of Nigel Shaw’s Dartmoor Roundhouse with reference to the flute presentation, but moreover to a release called Great Spirit Told Me, released back in 2006 by Michael Looking Coyote.

The album in reality of a story, a tale told by a sensitive and artistic author and quality flute performer; the concluding narrative entitled Hooked is a fine example of just how descriptive a thinker and composer Mad Dog most assuredly is, and also a moving way with which to conclude one of the most unique of releases I have heard for many a year.

If you like your album collection to have contained within in it a release of such powerful and emotive audio and flute splendour, then your quest is at an end by adding Wonder Moments by Mad Dog Friedman to your collection. I found each recitation compelling, caring and deeply thoughtful and incredibly special, this is a journey not to be missed. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Regenerate By Craigology





Written by

Steve Sheppard


The solo piano skills of Craigology came before me today in the guise of a brand new single entitled Regenerate, and this must be the artist’s most powerful presentation to date, with a true level of both power and intensity added to a sensitive layer of emotive energy on the keys.

This composition is a fine example of build, progression and final coda, or in this case climax. The piano here is an expressive thing, the tones, and notes played give one a essence of change, growth and conclusion, and to do all that in just over 100 seconds is quite remarkable.

Craigology is a flourishing and adaptable artist, with singles released in the jazz and chill out genres, but on Regenerate we have a graphic and commanding performance, one that the artist dominates completely, in this new Piano Micro Form genre of well under two minute compositions, you have to get your message and musical point over quickly, and Craigology succeeds by producing one of the most compelling solo piano performances of its kind.

Evensong By Kevin Keller




Kevin Keller

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Many moons have passed since a Kevin Keller album has come my way, but here on this latest album entitled Evensong we delve into the realm of a vocal styled collection of songs which mark the time of a day, and pays homage to Hildegard of Bingen in the 12th century with regard to the melodies that can be found within the expansive and exploratory album.

Evensong by Kevin Keller is a true mix of old and new, past and present, with each track entitled Evensong and numbered concurrently, we journey through an album of great textures and colours, and of course of sublime tone and timbre.

From the starting point, through to the conclusion we are gifted a journey of perhaps a day, perhaps even a lifetime with each arrangement, from the illustrious vibrations of the opening piece, through to the more electronic styled structures of track two and onward to the concluding opus of depth and a vastness of resonance.

The album also utilises the vocal talents of the following artists Katherine Wessinger, Danya Katok, Elisa Singer Strom, and Wendy Baker as sopranos, and instrumentational crafted performances can also be found by Sarah Zun violin and Angela Pickett on viola, whilst Laura Metcalf can be found on cello, Keller himself manifests moments of musical magic using string sections, organs and piano in a totally unique and ground breaking presentation.

I have truly never heard anything as unique and inventive as this, the eight tracks upon this release create their own weave through a gentle electronic vibrational arrangement, into a neo-classically styled ethic, whilst the harmonic transcendence of the vocals reminds me of religious rhythms of years past, with flavours of a Gregorian chant mixed into the said narrative.

The modern mixture of musical nuances weaved into a tapestry of 9th to 10th century styled sacred songs is without doubt one of the most innovative melodic historical reinventions you will have seen and heard, and one that should capture the listeners imagination and desire to source a uniqueness of tone, and as such I feel that Evensong by Kevin Keller is an album that will be sought out by musical aficionados in search of compositions of great quality and tone.   

Monday, March 11, 2024

Stratosphere By Lorna James




Lorna James

Written by

Steve Sheppard


The beauty of an album can usually be found within the compositional structures of the release, the onward movement of orchestration, the colours and textures of those delightful chord changes, and the musical narrative that transcends beauty. That aforementioned statement for me, sums up this brand new album by Lorna James entitled Stratosphere.

Lorna is without doubt a unique musician; she creates lush and glorious soundscapes, and tracks like the opening piece Footprints in the Sand is simply the perfect place to start, its Kevin Kendle like influences take me back to ‘96 and Ascent from the Aerial Vistas album, that tender soft pallet of synths is there, the idyllic melody of both calm and warmth makes this the perfect place to start our musical voyage.

Ancestral Journey has a somewhat deeper edge to its composition, the uplifting keyboards are still there, but added are some scene setting vocalisations, and an ethnic sense of instrumentation that lends us a truly mystical energy to enjoy.

We move now to another hit single that takes its place rightly on the album called The Last Sunrise, this for me is one of the more emotionally charged offerings from the release. The soaring keyboard work is there, the synths hover with an intensity to commit a blissful crescendo, and the resultant creation is tempered with tasty lush orchestration.

We edge towards the middle of the album, and as we do so we come across a track entitled Coming Home. This heart-warming creation delivers a sense of a return of love after a long while alone in the mists of time, and across the eons of many eras as star crossed lovers return home into each other’s arms, please pay careful attention to the string section in this piece it is so very beautiful indeed.

As we slide into the latter half of this marvellous release we come across one of the more ambient creations upon it called Redemption, a soft pastiche of tone and timbre can be found here; the piano work was sublime and reminded me of work performed on an album called Colours by the ‘90’s band The Christian’s, this may well be the shortest track on the album, but one well worth another spin.

Lorna James should be proud of this album; it highlights all that is good in the world of new age instrumental music, for example this next manifestation is called Dark Forest, in what could well be a theme for a TV detective show like The Unforgotten, Lorna weaves a tale of darkness and light, shadow and sunshine, in one of the most fascinatingly and interesting pieces of the release, the soaring vocalisations add such weight to the smooth melodies brought into being by both synths and keyboards.

I can always tell that I am engaged by an album by the fact I sometimes forget to save my work, with that quickly being done, I find nestled in the lower echelons of the release a charming piece called Land of Ice, a former single from last year indeed, and after watching season two of Ragnarok, this offering would have been perfect to have been included within the production of that show, the percussive dance style beat and driving onward tones of splendour make this one easily the most powerful creation of the album.

It is hard to believe, but it’s true, I have reached the penultimate track off the album called Into Infinity. Here Lorna takes her foot off the gas after the last track, and delivers a chill-out styled offering that floats with a crafted performance on the keyboards by the artist, the slow build and progression on this piece, and its uplifting nuances at just over the half way juncture are well worth a second listen.

So we arrive at the last portal of the album, and as we do so we can tenderly take this musical gift from the artist called Prayer for Peace, and hope to everything we know, that this is something that one day can be achieved globally, her gentle transformative opening to this track is utterly marvellous, and the subsequent compositional contribution makes this the ideal arrangement with which to conclude the album.

There can be no doubt that that something very special can be found on this new album, Lorna has taken all of her skills and manifested something that is very classy and delightfully listenable. Its times like this that I adore the job I do, truly great albums like this don’t come around that often, and all my musical senses are telling me that Stratosphere by Lorna James is going to be a huge hit album for the artist, an as such will be just the start of a long and glorious career, this one is simply top notch, and an absolute must for all fans of really good instrumental music.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Sweet Shiva By Sarves Thiru


Sweet Shiva


Sarves Thiru

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Sarves Thiru has been a like a breath of fresh air in the devotional musical arena, her flowing and respectful vocals have certainly captured the hearts and minds of the listeners, and here on this brand new single she does that once more with the release of Sweet Shiva.

The Hindu deity Shiva is her main focus on this new offering, over the years we have heard many artists pay homage to the one who can be sometimes known as Mahadeva, such as Deva Premal, but here Sarves expands upon that and creates a compelling musical composition, one that feels energetically linked to the aforementioned Shiva.

The fused global vibrations of this piece, its percussive rhythm and string sections, added acoustic guitar and keyboards, all go to bring about a warm and effective composition. The smoothness of this creation is gentle, but with a wonderfully fluent aspect to its creation.

Interestingly enough Shiva is thought, amongst other traits, to be the god of Yoga, and the subtle yet effortless tones of this new single would be a good one to use in such a practise, regardless it certainly looks like Sarves Thiru is going to have another big hit on her hands with this new single entitled, Sweet Shiva.

On the Edge of Mind By Victor Birkan


On the Edge of Mind


Victor Birkan

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Victor Birkan is one of the most prolific composers of felt piano on the music scene today, in fact in some quarters he is known as Mr Felt, his ability to draw a compelling musical narrative from his instrumentation of choice is simply stunning, with each composed note, with each structure or key change, Birkan is there with another tale to tell, and this time his new single On The Edge Of Mind is that narrative we are to explore.

This is a much darker piece; Birkan’s touch is felt well within the arrangement, one that is deeply moving and emotionally charged, this reflective and somewhat mournful composition paints a picture of sadness and confusion that has entered the life of a person, and at times the music literally illustrates the sense of being overwhelmed by it all.

The composition itself is carefully created, and the sensitive touch by the pianist is perfect within this moving track, with memories and passion both being contrasting juxtapositions within the song, one that is powerful, yet also mindful of the situation, surely another hit is on its way again for Victor Birkan with his latest single On the Edge of Mind

Aurora By Jacquelyn G. Kleine




Jacquelyn G. Kleine

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There are few artists who can actively paint musical descriptions of locations with such colour and clarity as Jacquelyn G. Kleine, her rise to fame in the new age genre has been meteoric, and she thoroughly deserves all the plaudits she gets for her efforts, but she has now released a new single called Aurora that will add many rungs to her new found ladder of musical success.

This is one of the most transcendent offerings I have heard from the artist, the synths and keyboards flow with the magical refrains that Llewellyn once captured with his meditational release, Journey to the Temple, and the descriptive tapestry of style is manifested with the tenderness and care that Michael Allison brought to life so beautifully on his Autumn Light album.

There can be no doubt that this new single from Jacquelyn is going to usher in a new era of dominance for the artist in the new age music scene, maybe even music for a documentary may lie here too. This is a fine example of truly good instrumental music, with each chord and note played Jacquelyn takes us on a journey to the northern lights in a musically vicarious way, and our lives will be changed by its beauty forever more,. If ever a song is a guaranteed number 1 hit, it has to be Aurora by Jacquelyn G. Kleine, and I rarely say things like this, but I think Aurora is one of the best singles in this genre I have heard for absolutely decades!

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Space to Breath By Ryan Judd


Space to Breath


Ryan Judd

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Creating the perfect mood of ambience is a painstaking task; the slightest error can push the whole of a musical composition out of synch. Ryan Judd, an acoustic guitarist and instrumentalist of added keyboard instrumentation, is now one of the elite in creating that perfect moment of calm and serenity, and we can now enjoy a brand new single from the composer.

Here on this wonderful new creation entitled Space to Breath, we get just that and far more, for me this came at the perfect time as I had been under the stresses and strains of life rich tapestry, and listening to this very track whilst composing my narrative was a tranquil and soothing experience, and quite a cathartic one as well.

I have yet to find anyone who can match Judd’s composure on guitar, his performance is solidly bang on the subject matter, and his presentation has the listeners wellbeing as a first port of call before personal gain or glory.

This new single has to be one of the most restful, the gentle synth in the back ground drifts like a summer morning mist, whilst Judd’s acoustic plays the sweetest sounds ever, and I guarantee you total bliss, peace and calm at its conclusion, and as the song title postulates it will most certainly give you that most precious, Space To Breath.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Prayer: Gratitude by John Hamilton


Prayer: Gratitude


John Hamilton

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I am often presented with music that gifts the listener a tranquil moment, perhaps a serene refrain to relax too, here on this brand new single from John Hamilton, both of those aspects can be found within his new offering Prayer: Gratitude, and moreover a true sense of gratitude and peace as well can be garnered, nestled within its delicious confines.

This I must say has to be one of the finest presentations of solo piano I have heard so far this year, and trust me, I listen to many such creations, but this one for me is very special, that sense of being grateful flows between each key stroke, and after all isn’t gratitude a prayer to oneself, it’s an awareness that you recognise just how precious this life is, and what’s more, you acknowledge it, the tones that drift like a summer haze from Johns piano gift us a realisation that indeed every single second we have is incredibly precious.

So I must honestly say that Prayer: Gratitude by John Hamilton is a true solo piano gem, it is a sanctuary of musical bliss for when times get rough and you need a little reminder to stay in the moment and be grateful, it is a panacea to ease the weary brow, and even more so, I believe that this is going to be a huge hit single on the charts, it is that beautiful.

Gentle Winds Calling By Larry Gindhart Music


Gentle Winds Calling


Larry Gindhart Music

Written by

Steve Sheppard


The warm winds of an approaching summer drift past your face, and you can palpably feel the sense that life and the seasons are once again changing, for me, this new single, Gentle Winds Calling by Larry Gindhart illustrates my mood perfectly, and this pristine flute performance by the artist is a true gem to be savoured.

Gindhart’s precision and intent on this piece is simply beautiful, his powerful yet soothing performance on flute is transcendent, but also very mindful and meditative, his fluency is without doubt deeply enjoyable, this is one of those pieces that if it were 10 minutes long, you would never tire of it.

The gentle, yet uplifting musical narrative is precise, crisp and clean, and draws a wonderful sense of harmony across the mind, which in turns allows the listener to breathe in a moment of tranquil bliss, this is solo flue at its very best, and as such it should be much sought after by fans of the instrument across the globe.

For me I found Gentle Winds Calling by Larry Gindhart cathartic and connected with the natural order of life’s rich patterns, this is a fine flute presentation and one that Larry should be proud of, I am sure he will also be proud of this new singles future rise up the charts as well, as I truly believe it is inevitable.

Monday, March 4, 2024

Native Flute Journeys 4 By Sandi Horton


Native Flute Journeys 4


Sandi Horton

Written by

Steve Sheppard


In 2022 Sandi released the work Native Flute Journeys 3, two years later volume 4 of this most beautiful of albums has been born to the world, and within its musical confines lie 11 of the most delightful flute journeys you will ever take, this voyage of musical bliss will be one of the most serene and tranquil harmonic sojourns you will have ever taken.

Native Flute Journeys 4 starts with the flowing and natural refrains of Song of the Heartwood, a composition that is so dream-filled in its intent and calming posture, that it is a simple delight not to be missed.

The entire album is packed with heartfelt and emotive compositions; tracks like Out of the Flames, with its mysterious vibrations and chimes, create a feeling of utter Zen and meditative contemplation. Whilst on A Thankful Heart we have well over 6 minutes of tranquillity provided by a double drone flute to revel in, this echoes around our forest of musical wonderment with the beautiful tones of true gratitude and harmony, and then on pieces like Genesis we have an almost soundtrack like offering that is the beginning to all that it perceives, and is a slice of textured flute brilliance.

This is one of those albums, that if you are a flute music fan, you are really not going to want to miss it, compositions that can inspire, bring peace and usher in a new dawn of healing are all here for you, in tracks like A Song in the Breeze, which has such a soothing narrative it is hard not to hit repeat on the presentation, and may well be one of the most ambient offerings from the album.

The penultimate offering is one I personally found fascinating, I know a lot of the moon phases, but had never heard of Sturgeon Moon.  The performance by Sandi must be one of the most scenic on the release, and one that celebrates the fish of the same name, the female of which can live to an astounding 150 years old, so perhaps it deserves a song about its life!

The album concludes with a jolly little creation entitled Sky Weaving which rounds up one of the most beautiful flute albums I have heard thus far this year. There can be no doubt that Sandi Horton is right up there as one of the best Native American styled flute performers of her day, and the release of Native Flute Journeys 4 will go far in cementing her legacy among the greats in the months and years ahead. Simply put, if you like the tones of a musical flute Native American style, then this compilation of meditational bliss must be a part of your collection at all costs.

Friday, March 1, 2024

Walk Together By Masako


Walk Together



Written by

Steve Sheppard


It is good to hear the splendid tones of Masako back on the scene and with a brand new single entitled Walk Together, this is a piece that will brighten your day and leave those winter blues far in the distance behind you, the pianist is also joined by a plethora of other outstanding artists too in Tom Eaton, Will Ackerman with Vin Downes on guitars, then add Noah Wilding and Jeff Haynes into the mix, and you are guaranteed a happy success.

This is a beautiful composition from the artist, her warming performance on piano illustrates a perfect walk on an idyllic spring day; the compositional structure of the arrangement literally gifts the listener a moment of calm reflection and tranquillity, and in today’s climate, that cannot be a bad thing can it.

The mood of the piece is enhanced wonderfully by the ensemble of artists, from ethereal vocalisations, to soft and sumptuous acoustic guitar performances, with a sensitive percussive element added into this most charming of mixes.

I think Masako has created a winner here, I can see this timeless reverie of nature, peace and harmony being in the minds of instrumental fans across the globe for many years, and I will say from a personal standpoint, this is one of the finest instrumental singles I have heard this year with ease, and yes, this just has to be a guaranteed hit on the charts.