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Story of Ghosts by Fiona Joy
- posted by John M. Crossett on 11/5/2018
Fiona Joy — Story Of Ghosts
How would one go about describing the sound of Fiona Joy’s solo piano album Story Of Ghosts? To me words like dreamy, introspective, thought-provoking, memory-inducing, heartfelt, self-examining, even a little touchy-feely come to mind. It’s the kind of music that takes you, consciously or unconsciously, on a journey inside yourself, forcing you to examine thoughts and feeling that maybe you’d buried deep inside - ghosts of our past, so to speak. And if you try, maybe her music tells the story of those ghostly remembrances. In a way that makes them less threatening, and more a part of your life to be savored. At least that’s the thought process Fiona Joy took for this album, as she notes in the liner notes to this hybrid stereo SACD. For this album, Fiona Joy took the better part of a year to, as the liner notes put it, “take her fans on an introspective journey reflecting the past year of her life as she deals with its twists and turns.”

I hear echoes of Enya, Windham Hill, Bill Evans, and even some classical piano pieces melded together to form her unique style. What I don’t hear is a money grab. This album was written and recorded to express something, something deep. And she succeeds admirably in translating those feelings from her minds ear to keyboard. And thanks to Blue Coast Records, whose close miked recording, we can delete deeply inside each of the ten tunes recorded here. Some may not care for the close miked piano sound, as it robs the listener of a sense of recording space, but due to the message of the music it may be the best way this album could have been recorded. Again, those words intimate and introspective come to mind. The close miking allows us to concentrate on the music itself, and not be quite so caught up with the sound. But do not, even for a second, think that the sound here was not of high importance. If the sonics of an album take priority in your listening sessions, then here you’ll hear each key on the keyboard, each hammer strike, each string vibrate, each note perfectly formed. You’ll feel the power a large grand piano has. But you’ll also be missing the point of an album like Story Of Ghosts, which is about memories. Enjoy the sound, sure, but focus on the music and let it pull you in, inside it, and inside yourself. I think, if you do that, you’ll emerge a far more peaceful and content person. This music has magic weaved into it.

Fiona Joy is not a household name, at least not yet. But she is a force to be reckoned with. Anyone who can write music that transcends its genre and move itself into the realm of self-examination is a person to follow and enjoy. Story Of Ghosts is such, one that succeeds on so many levels (if you let it) that it stands apart from the bulk of instrumental music (heck, just music) made today. Give it a listen and see if it doesn’t do for you what it did for her, and for me - allows you to unbury the past and make it a full part of you instead of something to hide away, ashamed of. Story Of Ghosts frees us to grow into better people, and you can’t ask more than that from any album you listen to.
Rating: Very Good +
Eternal by Kevin Wood
- posted by RJ Lannan (Artisan Reviews) on 10/30/2018
Emotionally Rich and Spiritually Satisfying

Let Us.

Many think that there are four kinds of prayers; adoration, contrition, petition and thanksgiving, but for each person that utters words honest in heart to their God, the number is endless. There had been several albums that offer prayers and promises of late, (e.g. Sapient by Steven Chesne, Valerie Romanoff Healing Music 2) and frankly, there has never been a better time for them to appear. Fires, floods, wars, and unfathomable pain is loose in the world. Our earth is chock full of this dark matter and there sometimes seems to be no end in sight. But I have always been an optimist, full of faith in mankind and a benevolent Supreme Being.

Composer Kevin Wood offers up a new album that is full of promise and hope called Eternal. The album has twelve tracks of classically influenced contemporary/New Age/cross genre music with tribal chant, Gregorian chant, vocals of every description, and music that creates meditative soundscapes for body and spirit. I’ve reviewed Wood a number of times and I have always found his compositions emotionally-rich and spiritually satisfying on many levels.

In Search of Meaning, a tune enigmatic in nature, is the opening number. Jami Seiber’s cello strikes a somber phrase to begin the song, but a lighter heart responds and the rhythmic melody with tribal singing gives it the energy it needs to soar. There is chant in the background giving the song shading and the cello revives once again to harmonize with the singers.

Light Shines Through is an unusual mixture of sounds. World renowned musician Francois le Roux offers the voice of his cello an Adoration prayer accompanied by female vocals, gentle violin, and men’s heartfelt chant. There is Native American elements throughout the album giving it an earthy, honest balance. Father’s Love is such a song. Shawnda Rowe Birch sings counterpoint with the shaman, both recognizing the Great Spirit.

One of my many favorites on Eternal is Love’s Embrace. It is a piano driven tune with many voices, strong bass, and a plaintive message. It is as if two different eras are singing in harmony. The New and the Old speak of a rapturous time when the balance of love and peace will be met. Another strong piano and cello tune is called Time for a Change. The piano lead is vivid in tone, the vocals reverential, and the message clear as day. The male chorus is solemn, but all the voices rise to the heavens.

Using Pachelbel’s Cannon in D written a hundred years ago and mixing it with tribal chant, the beautiful tune Grace Eternal touches all the deep recesses of the heart. It is not so much a prayer as it is a celebration of spirit. There are many ways to think about, and even more ways to say it, but having an experience where you know God is smiling down on you is uplifting. Again, Wood’s song of the old and the new seems to make sense. The past and the now sometimes adds up to the future.

Peace Begins With Me is quietly sweet and poignantly melodic. Once again we hear the exquisite pairing of cello and piano and it works every time. Each takes a turn, compliments its partner, and deftly moves on. Such a balance.
Compassion Reigns is the echo of an old hymn you have heard somewhere before. It has a mixture of soft cooing voice and reassuring piano, and a resonant chorus in the background. It is a song sung in backwoods churches, some with no walls or roofs at all, but with a strong assembly of faith that acts as the pegs and beams that make it a solid structure.

There is a bonus track on Eternal, Atonement from Wood’s Kindred album and it fits is perfectly with the album’s theme. It is a blissful song, a modern day mantra of voice and angelic chorus. I don’t know if it is strictly a song of contrition, but the feel is the embracing of love.

Kevin Wood’s Eternal is a musical companion to a life’s journey of discovery. It starts out with a search, goes through a myriad of transformations, and in the end, finds the answers that have been hidden in our own hearts all along. Anyone who listens cannot be helped but be touched by this music and by our own personal discoveries.

Highly recommended.
Native Heart by Bearheart Kokopelli
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 10/29/2018
Solo flute at its best
There is something so very peaceful about the Native American Flute, something so transcending about its nature, it encapsulates a sense of time within time, and a moment in music so listenable and calming, and such is the way with the new album from Bearheart Kokopelli entitled Native Heart.
After all we are all native in heart, was in not Chief Seattle that said “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect”. How true and this new offering from Bearheart Kokopelli establishes that very statement, take a listen to the entrance to this album entitled Indian Summer, a beautifully fluent and transcendent performance that will leave you completely transfixed within the moment.
The following musical narrative entitled Desert Dreaming is completely different in composition, the tempo is decidedly slower in energy, it is as if we are watching the sunset across a vast desert landscape, and it is simply too hot to move! The flute here gives us an almost sleepy feel to its arrangement, one that will easily relax and ease the listener further into the album.
One of my Native American shamanic teachers once said to me, “You may not in this life time be Native American, but you are native in heart”, a statement of respect indeed, and whilst I listen to this marvellous performance by Bearheart Kokopelli, I am reminded of those words from some 13 years or so ago. Native Heart the track, is as honest a piece as you will ever hear from the artist, the musician plays from his very soul on this offering, and it shows.
A cry goes out to the ancestors and ancients; it is a Call Of The Spirits. The artist here really delivers an exciting and energetic offering that cries out across the realms of time and beyond. Bearheart Kokopelli has taken this complex performance and made a track that is a wonderfully vibrant offering, one that we can all listen to openly, and be enthralled by the lighter sense of this graphic flute presentation.
Mitakuye Oyasin is my favourite track off the album, not only because of its meaning “All Are Related”, blessing to the Lakota for this wise saying, but because of the respectful and enchanting recital from the musician. The flute seems to be all around us and echoes through the ages, and emphasises the statement of the subject matter with such a divine fluency.
The style on the flute here by the artist is sublime, the breath techniques employed must take a lot of time and practice, and Ancestors Call is one of those tracks that you will want to listen to many times over, as there is a certain addictive quality to the performance that will always leave you wanting more.
Next we take a trip in another direction entirely, to the land of the ancient Pueblo people, the track is Anasazi Dreaming. The flute here is certainly much deeper that the preceding piece, and because of this the artist manifests a truly dream like ethic within the composition, it is a superbly performed offering indeed and one that we can all simply float too in our respective dream times perambulations.
We now find ourselves deeper in the weave of the project and as such come across a track called Light Forest. Solo and sublime, a moment when one can close the eyes and just drift on the tones of a magical flute, perhaps even this recital may take us to the edge of a dark green canopy of trees in a forest at the very edge of time.
Meditative flute is an art all of its own, a friend of ours Paul Adams excels at it, another in Nigel Shaw from the UK, expands the very awareness of the nature of the instrument, and here on this penultimate offering Bearheart gives is the Courting Song, a track that perhaps calls to the very heart of us all in a desire to be more than one.
Our last piece comes courtesy of composition entitled Corn Prayer, there is an almost far off feeling about this arrangement, perhaps we can see the artist standing on the very edge of a golden corn field as the sun begins to set and for the very last time, ripening the corn that is about to be reaped. There is a truly haunting quality to this piece that makes it the perfect offering with which to end the album.
Native Heart by Bearheart Kokopelli is Native American solo flute at its best; its energies build and create a strong but sensitive album played with a certain level of respectful honesty, one the ancestors would be proud of. The performance and productions contained within Native Heart are a pleasure to listen to, and conjure up many images and vistas within the mind’s eye, but this would also be a perfect album for your meditational musical collection too.
Rating: Excellent
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