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Held in the Light by Dan Chadburn
- posted by Dyan Garris - New Age CD on 11/3/2017
Dan Chadburn - Held in the Light
Dan’s Chadburn’s love and passion for music, and compassion for humanity, shines clearly through in this, his 7th improvisational solo piano album. “Held in the Light” is 13 tracks from Dan’s heart to ours, consisting of ten improvised arrangements of traditional hymns and three original studio improvisations. The album is almost one hour of feeling like you are fully supported and embraced by the Light. It’s something to lose yourself in, something to immerse yourself in, and yet find yourself in at the same time. The album effortlessly evokes a sense of deep and profound peace and transports you to a place where you just know without any doubt that all is well. And it is. You are held in the light.
The album opens blissfully with Dan’s improvised version of the traditional hymn, “Breathe on Me, Breath of God.” Simple, yet at the same time, complex, not unlike the nature of humanity, it’s an English Christian hymn that was penned by Edwin Hatch in the late 1800s. It’s a tribute to God, the giver of life, and speaks to the creation of man through the spiritual breath of God. It’s the perfect song to begin this album. But in this version, if you didn’t know it was a hymn, you wouldn’t know it was a hymn. Dan’s interpretation honors this “creation energy” perfectly and cuts across any and all religious boundaries to embrace all that is Light. The whole album is that way.
“Be Thou My Vision,” a traditional hymn from Ireland, follows as track 2 and again, what we feel here is just the love.
Dan’s rendition of “Amazing Grace” on track 3 is a purely lovely, heartfelt, and unique interpretation of this beloved, classic, and well-recognized hymn.
Track 4, “Wondrous Love,” is my favorite track on the album. So peaceful and soothing, it’s certainly one to play over and over again.
“Love Divine,” track 5, is aptly named, as it is indeed divine. It’s also a great showcase for Dan’s impeccable timing and graceful sensitivity. Here we feel as one with the Divine just as surely as Dan is one with the instrument.
Track 7, “Lo, How a Rose,” is another personal favorite. In Christianity, this is a familiar and beloved Advent hymn. Dan’s rendition is just amazingly beautiful, perfectly capturing the essence and purity of a rose and all of its symbolism.
The “Breath of Life” improvisation as track 9, was born in a live studio performance where Dan asked the audience to pick a note and a key. Hence, “Breath of Life” in the key of C sharp minor was birthed right then and there.
Soft, tender, and gentle, the title track “Held in the Light,” is interestingly and very well placed as the last track on the album. It is the perfect ending to a light-filled album that you’d certainly like never to end at all, but rather, have it go on into forever. And maybe it does, as the love emanating from this album will stay in your soul long after the music stops playing.
In my opinion, Dan Chadburn is one of the most important solo piano artists of our time. “Held In The Light” is outstanding and definitely not to be missed. Exceptionally beautiful solo piano.
Rating: Excellent
Once Upon A Time by Mark Barnes
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 11/2/2017
Everything you need in an album
Mark Barnes has produced many gems in his musical career, and from the creator of In the Beginning comes a brand new compilation of moving and emotive melodies called Once Upon A Time.
The very first footsteps are the moving and magical Lulu’s Lullaby, the gentleness of performance is so evident and so calming, but it also has a wonderful flowing narrative of calm running throughout the composition.
As we continue these early gentle musical footsteps into this brand new release by Mark Barnes, we come across a composition that is so very restful, it’s called Believe. Marks skill here is sublime; he produces something so delicate that one could with ease fall into a blissful and peace-filled sleep. The narrative of this piece reminds me of the golden age of New Age music, but the master narrator Mark Barnes continues this perambulation through the mists of sleep with the amazing and outer worldly, Drifting. This moment is captured with perfection by the performance on keyboards, and its angelic tones allow us to drift on the wings of peace with consummate ease.
The tempo is raised for this next one called Simple Pleasures. There’s something very sun kissed about this composition, one could easily imagine this as a road trip anthem, the full flowing and happy narrative runs with the energy of a summer’s day, the windows open, the music playing, as the shards of sunlit shadows caress our senses as we travel.
Valentine's Rhapsody is up next and a lusher cinematic composition you won’t find on your musical travels. There is something very emotional about this offering and the nature of that passion can be felt within the performance on an arrangement that seems to quicken like the beating of the heart. This is one very clever composition by Barnes and credit must be given for its compelling narrative.
A complete change now as we lay in the arms of a reflective piece called If I Could Go Back in Time. Barnes allows the tempo to drop and as he does, he creates something we haven’t heard the likes of since Mike Rowland’s “And So to Dream” released back in 1993. This is an arrangement with a charming sense of wonder and again has that cinematic energy about its construction.
We now arrive at the half way juncture and come across one of my favourites from the release, it’s called Anthem. This one really moved me, each hair stood to attention upon my arms as I wrote and, I am so very glad that this opus of a proud emotional nature is just shy of a blissful 5 minutes long. Barnes has built in a wonderfully layered symphonic energy to this piece that is so deeply moving. I rate this composition to be one of the best arrangements that Barnes has ever written.
Dreamcatcher felt very familiar to me, that melody seemed timeless, but very memorable, this song is so very gentle, so I began to visualise the Dreamcatcher in my bedroom, just gently blowing in the late summer afternoon breeze, for me there is something so very simple and easy about this one, a track I just love to pieces and reminds me a little of Holland Phillips last album Circles of Eight. I can see this one will be played relentlessly on my shows, it’s truly addictive.
This whole experience known as Once Upon a Time just keeps on getting better and better, we now arrive at a little laid back, easy like Sunday morning piece called Morningside. As I swing my legs out of bed I can see the palm trees and at the end of my ocean drive the sea, the blue of the clouds and the dust filtering, dancing on the sunbeams, this music inspires me to create this description for you, it’s simply divine.
A more thought provoking piece is upon us now and called The Gift of You, for me this has all the hall marks of a ballad bathed in unconditional love. Barnes performance here is emotive, but it’s more than that, he manifests a melody that screams through the darkness of the night, ‘How can I ever be alone, when I have the Gift of You?’ Simply sublime, simply beautiful, at every corner and turn of the composition.
The resonance of Walking on Air takes us to a whole new dimension of performance, once more that cinematic element is there, and also the energy of freedom either through dreams or running in the early dawn dew. Barnes has once again used his ever growing knowledge of composition here and manifested something that is truly remarkable and energizing.
We are now very deep within the weave world of this album, and as such we have travelled to a musical land known as, The Whisper of Leaves. It’s good to hear the slight use of pause on this piece, and then the elevation of power as the wind perhaps shakes the cadence from the day. This track also has a wonderful sense of movement built into its arrangement, it is as if the leaves themselves are performing a dance for us, and perhaps they are.
The penultimate offering is that glorious moment of the title track and of course called Once Upon A Time. Mark Barnes as a composer has the fluency of a mountain stream, the music runs free within him and through this piece we can feel that honesty and that love for his art. At just short of 6 and half minutes, this is the longest composition off the album and one that we can literally ease back to and enjoy each and every nuance.
Now be prepared for this last track, as we leave the peaceful world of Once Upon a Time with a little rocky up beat number called Get With It. If you’re a regular listener to One World Music Radio, you may recognise the voice introducing the piece as the one and only Bruce Gall, presenter here at my station. A totally unique way to leave the album, but one clever enough to feature both of Bruce’s loves Rock and Electronic music. Always a good thing to do, leave the listener with a smile and a good feeling and this track certainly achieves that.
Once Upon A Time by Mark Barnes is an album of 14 tracks that takes you, on a journey through sight and sound, that at all times is both blissful and memorable. You have everything on this album that you would ever need reflection, peace and tranquillity, a heartfelt moment of deep emotion and a little fun. Barnes should be proud of his creation and I can see this being very popular with both listeners new and old.
Rating: Excellent
Reaching 12 by Faith Angelina
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 11/2/2017
A deeply emotive album
Faith Angelina may be the youngest person we have ever interviewed so far, but she has a story to tell, that many three times her age will not have encountered. This however has given her a unique perspective on life and from that over-view; it has matured into a sense of music that has become a sanctuary of tranquillity and a place of creation.
The story itself is well documented in the interview that we did with her, but here and right now, Faith Angelina takes us on a personal journey through her debut album and we start at the very first open window entitled, Run with the Wind. As a 16 year old child this is exactly what I wanted to do myself, my life was out of control and all I wanted to do was run as fast as I could into the only thing that had never let me down, nature. I feel the same energy in this piece, there is a certain tempo set here by the repeating motif and a colourful melody of freedom attached, and one compliments the other with ease.
I found Sunday Morning Rain a real memory jerker, Sundays as a child for me were always bitter sweet and through the tones and incredible fluency of performance one could with ease see the artist sitting by the window, watching the trickling water fall like tears from the grey skies above.
On Easter Lilies we have a piece that contains a gentle narrative, its short form structure supports a really light essence and the really crafted performance here is a treat to listen to.
The next track has a really tentative nature about its composition; Finding Hope has more than one dimension to it, it’s myriad of musical doorways to open, and a pathway of tone of an imploring nature can be found here. The smooth yet empowering performance here is quite breath taking, so much so that I have now listened to this piece four times and still I find more to enjoy.
Our journey with Faith nears the middle part of this exploration of musical awareness, and as we do so we come across a really dramatic composition called Lost. There is a darkness that sometimes we don’t notice and when it wraps its cloak around us, we simply get lost in its web, but there is hope. This powerful and moving arrangement has something truly special, its narrative is evident, but the fluid melodic structure reminds me of early David Lanz.
Seasons is our half way marker and as we take a break we can listen to the artist create a memorable offering that seems to span all four nature changes on our world. Listen for the change in style and tempo around the one minute twenty second mark that shifts up a gear and manifests a subtle movement in time and then slows back down in a shifting and repeating pattern which is completely addictive to listen to.
I had heard this track the other day on the radio and was extremely impressed; it’s called Eye of the Storm. Faith Angelina has created something here that is not only redolent of a storm, but of standing right in the middle of one, that eerie sense of quietness, and that very obvious reality that at some stage all hell is going to break lose. This is without doubt one of my favourite pieces from the release. Its extreme graphic nature is a pleasure to enjoy, and be a willing part of.
We now move to a track called Abuelita. Now I believe translated this means Grandmother, or little Grandmother. Regardless, this is a piece that has a real warmth to it, one that welcomes you in and offers you a glowing drink, that will bring comfort and happiness to you when you’re not at your best. For me this is what I would term as a real feel good track.
Once more the fluidity of performance shines for Faith Angelina on this next opus called Chasing Rainbows. The tempo and repeating motif gives us a sense of movement, but there is also a wonderful sense of colour and light here as well that can be enjoyed. This has to be one, if not, the most picturesque arrangements on the album.
This musical journey has been a real cathartic voyage for the musician and on Sunny Days she continues to explore that theme further. Just as I started writing about this piece, a sunbeam burst in through my studio window, perfect timing on a composition that contains an ounce of sunshine with every lovely note played.
Our penultimate piece is called Saying Good-Bye, this has to be a fine example of what we’re about to hear over the months and years ahead from Faith Angelina. I adored this track; it has become a real favourite of mine, the melody and over all composition reminded me in performance of Elton John, with its driving narrative and use of minor and major chords. The slight break towards the end was clever and well crafted, allowing a change to occur; this was stunning and reminded me of the work of Doug Hammer on his album Heart. This has to be the finest work from her to date, and one track I wished would never end, but like everything, we have to say goodbye to it all at some stage.
Our last offering is called Twelve, now while I struggle to remember back that far, what I do remember, is that this was one of the most difficult times of my life back then, leaving the child behind, as the teenager emerges and young adult hood comes knocking on the door of life. This offering pretty much sums up that feeling and shows the change occurring, the interplay of child hood and adult hood in music is perfectly illustrated here.
Reaching 12 is a remarkable collection of empowering and moving works from a musician so young, yet so talented, one can only dare to imagine what wondrous opuses will flow from her hands, with a few more years on the clock. Reaching 12 is an album that fans of solo piano will lap up; it contains all the right ingredients to reach dizzying heights in the charts, and will carry the listener on a deeply emotive and honest musical journey, perhaps even one that may as cathartic, as well as entertaining for them as too.
Rating: Excellent
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