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.

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