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Voice of the Ancestors by Grayhawk
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 4/23/2019
An album of pristine beauty and quality
There can be nothing more heart rendering that the loss of a loved one, especially a child, one so young, innocent and pure. This tragedy has touched the life of Grayhawk and is the very substance to which the opening piece of the album is all about, it’s called Transcendent Soul. I have listened to this piece now on multiple occasions, the arrangement, whilst moving and deeply emotive, has such an elevation of energy about its construction, one that fills you with hope and with a tear in the eye, one can feel a sense of purpose about life.
Grayhawk and Voice of the Ancestors is an album of masterful quality, to start a release off with a composition of such emotional content is simply breath-taking, and you will find that is a theme that runs concurrently and consistently throughout the offering.
Take a moment in the realm of a track like Guardians of Goddess Thien Hau, which contains a lush eastern narrative enhanced further by the talents of Grammy winner and flute performer Wouter Kellerman, then move soft of foot into the very title track itself Voice of the Ancestors, to hear the sublime nature of mystical magic from the artist on keyboards, mixed with a little ambient guitar from an old radio friend of mine in Vito Gregoli, this is simply and utterly majestic with every note played.
Voice of the Ancestors is an album that will probably eclipse mostly everything you have heard this year thus far, and includes a rhythmic long form opus like Peace Prayer, with the evergreen talents of vocalist Darlene Koldenhoven and the extremely classy Karen Olson on viola.
Grayhawk has proven himself via this release, to be one of the finest composers and multi instrumentalists of the modern age, and Voice of the Ancestors is that release that will entice you to listen further, to listen more deeply and be totally touched in the final outcome; albums of this pristine beauty and quality are impossible to not recommend and I urge you to delve deeper into this wonderful offering.
Rating: Excellent
North Maple Road by Kurt Reiman
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 4/18/2019
A debut album that is really going places
North Maple Road the debut album from Kurt Reiman is one of those rare albums that I knew I was going to fall head over heels in love with the moment I heard the first note played, there is so much within this release that is attractive and exciting to enjoy.
From the very first opener entitled Sunrise over Narragansett Bay, a light hearted reverie perhaps, but one composed so brilliantly that we can literally be right there with the artist and feel his thoughts.
We can enjoy a moment of musical bliss with the longest track off the album at just short of seven minutes as we listen to the opus of Together and Alone, a composition that seems and feels so tender and heart felt.
Kurt Reiman is one of those pianists that have that magic touch, and that crafted genius can be felt on one of the most addictive solo piano pieces I have heard thus far this year, of course I am referring to the title track North Maple Road, personally speaking I cannot stop playing this composition, it is sun kissed and cheer filled and that can’t be a bad thing can it?
This twelve piece album has so many beautiful arrangements, some of them touch the heart like the emotive I Need to Say This, others give us food for thought like the quite breath taking Stars and Constellations, a piece that creates so much texture, colour and space as it plays, and to finish with a song like You’ll Always Be Here with Me, a composition of comfort and reassurance; a beautiful way to leave a quite delightful album.
North Maple Road the debut album from Kurt Reiman does truly have that energy about it of a release that is really going to go places; Reiman is a composer of truth and a musical expressionist of sublime quality, and if you’re a fan of solo piano and are thinking about purchasing this collection of fine tunes, I say don’t even hesitate, you can be rest assured that your musical soul will thank you for it.
Rating: Excellent
In the Soft Light of Grace by David Nevue
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 4/17/2019
Graceful and serene
David Nevue has been on my musical radar for some nine years now and ever since then, I have been entranced by the beauty of the performances he gives. Nevue is a naturally talented painter of tones and melodies, and here on this new release called In The Soft Light of Grace, that statement is once more emphasised.
This new voyage of solo piano starts with a real anthem of a composition entitled Walking In Trust. The arrangement on its own is superb, the melody is film score standard, and if you ever wanted to start an album off with a piece that will hook the listener in, then this my friends is the one.
Nevue follows that masterpiece up with the ultimate tapestry of delight, the title track and of course entitled In The Soft Light of Grace. The performance here is sublime; it has a gentle overall aspect, one that perhaps is bathed in the early morning mist of a late summer’s day. However there is a deeper resonance to this offering that creates a really moving musical narrative, as if memory is competing with the moment we are currently within.
The perfectly balanced opus Equilibrium is next; there is a certain lightness of touch here employed by the master pianist that is so appealing. This composition seems to flow with the ease of a new born mountain stream and delicately touches each and every musical nuance along the way. This has to be in the top 10 most beautiful tracks I have heard from the Nevue, but then again there are so many, and at well over six and a half minutes this is the longest track off the album too.
As we move towards track four we find something truly special called, In the Quiet Alone. I am a big fan of ambient music, it allows me the time to relax and breathe, and this is exactly what this delightful offering from the artist does for me right here, right now. A slow and deliberate energy abounds here, one that seems to float in-between the tick and tock of the clock, this is ambience personified by Nevue.
The fluency of this next piece is so very charming and called Everpresent. The repeating motif is almost meditative and the overall energy gives forth a feeling, a sense of oneness of spirit. A smoothly played arrangement, with a little elevation of intent can be found here in this simply sublime moment of musical bliss.
We now come across an offering called The Wind Blows Where It Wishes; this is a really moving composition at times, one that for me depicts a certain remorseful content built within the mix of the arrangement. However, as is usual with a Nevue piece, it is perfectly balanced with the essence of positivity, and as the offering continues perhaps it is a reminder to us all that our lives are based on freewill, and like the wind, where ever we allow ourselves to be blown we will.
The gentle and emotive refrains of the next piece wash over me now; it’s called Out of Pain, Comes Beauty. I once spent 6 months of my life disabled by a freak accident and could not walk for most of that time, and in terrible pain, but I did overcome this tragedy and returned a year later to full health. For me this could be another anthem, I could hear this composition being played in my moment of success, as I stood upon a vast hillside and looked down at the world below, and how true is the title, out of pain, comes beauty, and out of determination comes victory.
The depths are about to be plunged into as we listen to this next offering called Where the Water Flows. Nevue is a master of texture and a creator of visual music of great quality and on this piece that is so evident. A powerful composition can be found here, one that twists and turns like a river in full flow. The pauses and space created also by the artist, adds a wonderful extra dimension for us all to get totally lost within, a truly clever offering indeed.
The nocturnal bliss of At Last Night is delightful to listen to, this piece reminds me of when you wake up from a dream in the early hours of the night, a little startled, then as your mind begins to clear, you start to relax again, your body once more falls back into the arms of peaceful rest. This composition is almost like when you give out a deep breath, sigh, shut your eyes and peacefully sleep once more, knowing that all is as it should be, an emphatic performance indeed.
The shortest piece off the album at just less than three minutes is a delicate composition called Heaven Came Down. However that delicacy is balanced perfectly with some of the finest flowing piano I have heard from the artist in years, it is as if he has touched a moment of divine inspiration and just gone for it.
The warmth of this next piece is truly tangible, the title is Luminous and another fine example of the ambient qualities that David Nevue can employ within his music, seemingly at will. There is a real incandescent quality to this track that is so appealing and one that is performed with so much feeling and heart as well.
The penultimate arrangement is a light and happy composition entitled Unshakeable. Nevue has once more created a melody that is remarkable, one that will stay with the listener forever. It is bathed in the energies of strength and purpose, an arrangement built of strong foundations and of great confidence.
The last threshold of the album we must cross now stands before us, called A Dance For Heaven. Nevue has created the perfect parting gift for us all and leaves us with a cheer filled opus that is filled with positivity and a sense of optimism. The performance is here is like dancing under a star filled sky in August, one that is simply breath taking with each and every note played.
In The Soft Light of Grace in my view is Nevue’s best work to date, even surpassing his last release Winding Down, which I wouldn’t have thought possible. This is an album that the vast realms of the solo piano genre will want to rush out and buy. Contained within are 13 superbly performed and produced compositions and each one of them cooked to perfection by a true musical chef of great standing, solo piano doesn’t come any better than this.
Rating: Excellent
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