Top Ten 2009
man colluded to make 2009 a memorable year. Not the good kind.
Even though I have some knowledge of geology, I am always
surprised when the metamorphosis of the planet manifests itself
so violently. Haiti and the surrounding region are changed
forever, as is our planet. People have been changed forever. We
must help where we can. We have a unique type of music that
brings peace to the spirit and we must continue to depend on
The genre of
neo-symphonic is gaining strongly and rightly so, being the
child of classical and contemporary music. This year surprised
me with the lack of Celtic based offerings. Where are you now? I
submit to you ten albums in no particular order that I felt best
exemplify the warmth, peace and comfort that our music has
always offered us.
- R J Lannan
The Whispering of Hands
- Artist: Robert Walling,
Label: Self Released
Music comes full circle in a wonderful
recording that is strongly reminiscent of the '80's New Age
beginnings. Could it be the influences of producer Will Ackerman or
the fact that great music never goes out of style? Both I think.
Guitarist Robert Walling offers up an album of
strong compositions and pleasurable melodies that entertain body and
soul. Notable cuts are Soliloquy,
Beautiful Mist and The Journey.
- Artist: Sora, Label: Rawlco
This Canadian singer/songwriter took the
Celtic center stage in 2009 and she deserves every accolade
given. Her original Celtic recording Heartwood
is poignant and engaging. Her story songs and warm voice never
fail to please. Sora used every trick in the
book including string ensemble, background drones and soaring
vocals. I liked every cut on the album. She set the bar in
2009 and more Celtic artist should take heed. Best cuts
Eurydice and The Birch's Lament.
Leap Of Faith - Artist: Tingsatd & Rumbel, Label: Cheshire Records
Perennial favorites Eric
Tingstad & Nancy Rumbel, two legendary artists that are
synonymous with New Age music gave us Leap of Faith.
The album is fun, frolicsome and unforgettable as they offer us
delightful new material, great reprises and funky covers.
The world tune Spring Maiden
really stands out as a winner as we are exposed to Korean folk
music at its best. The title tune Leap of Faith,
and the well-known tune Medicine Tree
satisfy like no other. Cover song like
Georgia on My Mind, San
Antonio Rose and Happy Trails
add musical joy to the experience.
- Artist: Michael Brant DeMaria, Label: Ontos Music
Classic Native American and original tunes come to life on Michael's album, Siyotanka. He easily reminds me of flutists
like R. Carlos Nakai and newcomer Evren Ozan, but his music has a natural slant to the contemporary. His echoing flute is soothing as the west wind and peaceful as a
sunset. His choice cuts are Becoming Tadoka, The Dream and the title tune Siyotanka.
Prayer for Compassion - Artist: David
Darling, Label: Wind Over the Earth Review
The title of my review for
cellist David Darling was "This Should Be Heard".
Well, apparently it was, for the album won the 2009 Grammy Award for
best New Age album. Darling, a former member of Paul Winter's
Consort has a plethora of followers with such noted albums as Eight
String Religion, Cello Blue and The Tao of Cello. His album,
Prayer for Compassion is most thought provoking in its
subject and intricate in its composition making it sad, beautiful
and extraordinary. Key tracks are Stones Start Spinning
(my favorite), the title track, Prayer for Compassion,
War is Outdated and When We
In Absentia - Artist:
Kevin Keller, Label:
Self Released Review
Without a doubt the most difficult review I have
ever written this year due to the melancholy nature and history of
the music. When Kevin Keller lost a loved one, he
transmuted his loss and pain into a beautiful, heart-wrenching album
of soulful music. With the single peal of a bell, the journey from
loss begins. It flows through confusion, to acceptance and finally,
to surrender. Exquisite ensemble compositions will soften your heart
and touch into deep places within. Notable cuts include
Struggle, and Peace.
This would be my personal pick for album of the year.
Painting the Sun - Artist:
It was a
pleasure for me this year to witness this legendary performer in a
live concert and he amply displayed why he is the very best.
David Lanz is self-effacing, down-to-earth and downright
agreeable. Painting the Sun is the renowned
composer's most colorful work with a fine attention to detail. The
music is bright, cheerful and expressive. His cover work on Pete
Seeger's Turn, Turn, Turn and his original
works are first rate. I never get tired of listening to Lanz' music
and there are thousands of piano players out there that have been
inspired by this master. Great tunes consist of the title tune,
Evening Song and Sleeping Dove.
Phoenix Rising, Label:
From San Francisco,
California comes the surprise of the year. Pianist
Wendy Loomis and flautist Monica Williams,
the talents behind Phoenix Rising, combine
with a light ensemble to offer an enchanting album of
contemporary music that pleases on just about every level.
Nestled inside the recording are some ethnic instruments that
lend a tasty international flavor to the work.
Seed, Creation and
Heartstrings are just two of the
memorable seven tunes.
Blue Dream - Artist:
Fiona Joy Hawkins,
Australia's favorite musical daughter has been
steadily growing in experience, talent and fans for the last five
years. Fiona Joy's jubilant compositions have hit new heights on her
current album Blue Dreams and she did it with a
little help from her friends and that includes legendary
guitarist/producer Will Ackerman. Make no mistake; the talent is all
her own as her music germinates into forms that are more complex.
Favorite tracks include Sunset at Ularu,
The Midnight Interlude and The
Far Away- Artist:
Nexion Project, Label:
Far Away would
be my choice for international best album of the year. The
Nexion Project is the remarkable work of
Torok Zoltan from Hungary. His combination of genres
including contemporary, cinematic and ambient defy
conventional description except to say they are phenomenal. I
reiterate to say this is music for every day and every night,
no matter what your mood. Choice tracks are Dawn,
Crossroads, The River
2010 can only mean a better year for the music that we
love. No matter how many terrific albums are released with their
positive messages of beauty, love and spirit each year, somehow it
never seems enough.
Much peace in 2010.
- R J Lannan