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Cappadocia by Jeff Johnson & Phil Keaggy
- posted by Lillian on 3/26/2019

Even though the new Jeff Johnson & Phil Keaggy keyboard-and-guitar album, Cappadocia, would most likely fall into the category of new age music, it definitely has world-music inflections throughout much of it. Which makes sense since the music was inspired by the country of Turkey and a spiritual region within that country (that area is called Cappadocia).

Phil Keaggy, a master of acoustic and electric guitars, utilizes a wide variety on this recording including classical and Spanish-style acoustics, a Turkish chumbus, a 12-string acoustic, Les Paul and Zion electrics among others, fretless bass, ukulele and Ebow. Keyboardist Jeff Johnson moves from piano to synthesizers to layer the music with additional textures that include the sounds of percussion, strings and flute. Both musicians also incorporated occasional very-subtle wordless vocalizations in the background.

This is simply beautiful mostly-instrumental music that is a pleasure to listen to. It is generally soft and gentle, so it makes for a soothing, relaxing listening experience, but there are lots of little creative elements within the music that will hold your interest. Recommended.
Rating: Excellent
Blue Moon Rising by Acoustic Ocean
- posted by R J Lannan - Artisan Music reviews on 3/20/2019
Blue Moon Rising
Acoustic Ocean
Blue Moon Rising

Just once in a blue moon…

There are places on this earth that are way beyond special. Katmandu, Nepal. Sedona, Arizona. And many more, but my favorite is Kona, Hawaii. In every craggy green hill, every fragment of cold, gray lava, and in every sun-jeweled wave in its beryl-colored ocean there is magic. That magic can be coaxed, manipulated, and loved into art; paintings, poetry, and music. Acoustic Ocean has been tapping that particular source and creating some of the most enchanting music for a very long time. Blue Moon Rising is their fourth album to grace the spirit with Celtic, contemporary, and world music. The eleven tracks of music are well thought out, balancing melody and theme, creating an acoustic ambience that lends itself to living a life of balances and compromises with the earth, with others, and especially, with one’s self.
Acoustic Ocean was a rare and extraordinary partnership between musicians Bette Phelan and Peggy Morgan. This is the first CD that Phelan has offered since the passing of Morgan in 2016, but rest assured that her spirit is ensconced in every note of this recording. Love and Aloha is still strong.
A Hui Ho, Hawaiian for Until We Me Again, opens the album like a wordless prayer, but not one that lacks sentiment. Evocative guitar and somber cello combine in this tender, obvious farewell. It is a pas de deux of souls, intertwined, dancing to music that only the spirit can hear.
The title tune Blue Moon Rising sounded to me like an old Appalachian tune. Flutes and fiddles, strummed guitar and fretless bass, and staccato percussion come together to form a tune that would be comfortable in the misty hills and green valleys of your imagination. A welcomed visitor any time.
In Deep Grace/Scarborough Fair has Paul Simon’s theme barely heard in the middle of the piece, coming and going like a ghost. The music also has the sound of the ocean, the voices of guitar and flute, and the cello. It is a dream sequence where everything, including time, is slowed, heartbeats become the drumming, and thoughts become iridescent colors.
Love is a Force Field has what is probably Morgan’s last vocal and harp accompaniment. Ocean and birds, along with a joyful melody celebrates life and living. You can feel the sun on your face, you can taste the salty tang of the ocean, and you get the sense that all is good in the world if only for that moment. Aloha Peggy.
I loved every cut on Blue Moon Rising, but my overall favorite is The Silent Storm. It is a sad melody with a Spanish guitar motif and serious cello, but the combination makes for a piece that is pensive and emotionally-rich. It had a distinctive feeling of absence. The storm is within and the churning of emotions, the confusion, and the turmoil coalesces into a primordial state that may take another lifetime to quell.
Sweet Mana from Heaven is peudo-slack key guitar tune. In this particular case, “mana” is the Polynesian concept of spiritual force and it sometimes stands for the power of place, that magic I wrote about earlier. The tune opens with the Tibetan gong and the voice of the “pueo” the Hawaiian owl. You can feel the energy of black lava field and green forest, blue ocean and bluer sky all seeping deeply into your soul. I have felt the mana many times.
Shadow Dancers takes on the Appalachian theme once again in a ghostly gambol. The bowed dulcimer, a rare instrument to my hearing, but one with an organic sound, plays the lead in this tune. Haunting flute joins in with fretless bass as its side. Together they create an ethereal world, a place where the unexplained is normal and where reality takes the day off.
The other four tunes on Blue Moon Rising are just as exciting or listenable. Bette Phelan, the composer and main musician on a dozen instruments is joined by Kay Aldrich on cello and of course, Peggy Morgan on harp and vocals. When I first began listening to this music, I thought it was strictly organic, but upon further listening I realize that it is conceptual in many ways. There is an intangible quality that defies description. You’ll just have to listen. Highly recommended.

Rating: Excellent
Morning Embrace by Carl Borden
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 3/18/2019
Music to soothe the soul and calm the mind
There are some artists that provoke a response so powerful and emotional when one hears about the possible release of a new album, that when that day finally arrives it makes one feel complete and once more musically whole again, Carl Borden is one of those artists.
I began my musical voyage with Borden back in 2017 with the release of the quite beautiful album Breathe. Now he is back with a charismatic new offering entitled Morning Embrace. Listening to this release is like taking a warm shower first thing in the morning, allowing the music like the water to simply wash over you.
Each track is an emotive pleasure park of genius, with pieces like the fluent Drift Away and the moving Journey’s End, being but two composition’s that struck a musical chord with me, and then that blank canvas of brilliance the title track, which was sublime and lush with colours of tone and sound that could have fallen from heaven itself. Morning Embrace is indeed a moment to treasure.
Carl Borden has once more pulled from the expansive realm of his musical mind, an album of music that soothes the soul, calms the mind and brings warmth to the heart.
You simply cannot go wrong with a Carl Borden release, it’s a musical gift from a man who really knows how to create utter ambience, which makes Morning Embrace was one the most easily recommended albums of the year so far, this is an absolute must for your collection.
Rating: Excellent
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