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Around the Sun by Kirsten Agresta Copely
- posted by Dick Metcalf on 7/6/2020
Kirsten Agrest Copely - Around the Sun
Exquisitely soulful sensual harp Kirsten Agresta Copely – AROUND THE SUN: You will find yourself totally enchanted by Kirsten’s exquisitely soulful and sensual harp work on her recent January, 2020 album… to get an “up-close and personal” feel for her work, first watch this LIVE performance of “Persephone Rising” at her release party for the CD…

…since you’re visiting, be sure to SUBSCRIBE to Kirsten’s YouTube channel, where you will find many more performances from this (and other) albums.

All of the content on the album is original composition, and as you listen to wonderful songs like the 3:49 “Wind Made Moan“, you’ll find yourself relaxing more than usual… Kirsten’s pacing on this piece is pure perfection, and I predict this one will be getting LOTS of airplay on (all kinds of) stations ’round the globe!

It’s quite amazing to be able to share the visions Kirsten creates with her harp… I expect memories of soft summer days will emerge as you listen to the simple elegance on “The Silver Swan“… each and every note leads you in a new direction; you’ll find yourself listening to this one over and over again, I’ve no doubt.

Kirsten’s husband Marc Copely helped her to realize these sonic treasures with his production, engineering and mixing mastery and songs like the opener, “Daybreak“, clearly display their talents… if any song should be considered for an award – this is IT!

Of the nine compositions on the album, I found the closer, “Winter’s Bone“, to be my choice for personal favorite… the overtones and angelic voices flowing in, ’round and through Kirsten’s harp playing create their own kind of magic.

I give Kirsten a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with a perfect “EQ” (energy quotient) score of 5.00… which means, of course, that it also gets my “PICK” for “best solo harp” album. Get more information on Kirsten’s website. Rotcod Zzaj

Celtic Fairy Dream by 2002
- posted by BT Fasmer on 5/25/2020
New Age Music Guide
“Celtic Fairy Dream” by 2002, the follow-up to the group’s highly successful “Celtic Fairy Lullaby” (2016), couldn‘t have been released at a better time. Taking a break from negative news has never felt better. Indeed, 2002 has always been one of the best New Age music bands, but today it is more apparent than ever that Randy and Pamela Copus’ daughter Sarah lifts the band to incredible new heights. Take my word for it: Even Enya would be amazed by “Celtic Fairy Dream”. It has musical magic dust sprinkled all over.

2002 debuted in 1992 with the album “Wings”. Since then they have had 12 albums on the Billboard Charts, encompassing a wide range of genres and styles. “River of Stars” (2000) spent 74 weeks on the Billboard New Age chart. With the release of “Trail of Dreams” (2014) it became clear that a new band member would offer something radically new. In my review I wrote; “Sarah Copus’ vocal is great, and I’m sure it will improve even further in the years to come. Already at age 10, she has just the right expression for New Age music, and the voice layering is done with skill and love.” “Celtic Fairy Lullaby” (2016) and “A World Away” (2018) showed that I was right; A new era in the history of 2002 had begun.

Castle of Dromore The album opener is called “Castle of Dromore” – and what a magnificent song it is! Don’t be surprised if you find yourself instantly looking for the replay button; Sarah’s vocal is amazing, reminding of a youthful Enya as heard on the album “The Frog Prince” (1985) (check for instance out the song “Dreams”, and you’ll hear how similar their voices are (Enya was about 23 at the time), and Sarah’s pitch may be even better and more refined). Another interesting aspect is the sharp, larger-than-life Vangelis synth in the background, which literally makes time stand still. You’ll never notice that over 5 minutes have passed. “Castle of Dromore“ is an Irish lullaby about a mother comforting her child to sleep singing ‘hush-a-bye-loo’. The melody appears, according to the booklet, in Hoffman’s collection of Petrie’s tunes (1877) and in O’Neill’s “Music of Ireland” (1903). The music video to “Castle of Dromore” is also terrific:

Talking about Enya; Next out is “The Green Fields of Autumn”, which is a traditional song many will remember from Clannad’s album “Magical Ring” (1983), under the name “Coinleach Ghlas An Fhómair”. 2002’s version is much more dreamy, in tune with the album’s overall theme. I love the synth lead, harp, nylon guitar and, a big WOW for the heavenly vocals. It is breathtakingly beautiful, yet unpretentious. A++ for the production.

Lullaby (Suantrai) “Lullaby (Suantrai)” is an Irish lullaby about Mary, who sings to her new-born son. Sarah’s vocal fits perfectly, and the voice layering is done with skill and is “just right”. I must also mention the flute segment in the middle, which serves as a link between the song’s traditional roots and the modern arrangement.

“South Wind” is an instrumental track with harp, flute, and light piano. 2002 is true to the Irish theme. The booklet reads “This air appears in Edward Bunting’s 1796 Collection of Irish Folk Music. Edward Bunting said he got this air in 1792 from an old man known as “Poor Folk” who roamed the northern counties playing a tin fiddle.”

David of the White Rock (Dafydd y Garreg Wen) The album is well-produced from start to finish, and 2002 takes no shortcuts. “David of the White Rock (Dafydd y Garreg Wen)” perhaps the most challenging song on the album from a vocal perspective, and Sarah shows how much she has grown as a singer since we heard her on “Trail of Dreams”. She can even sing Irish, as heard on “Close Your Eyes (Dun do Shuil)” (although I cannot say that her pronunciation is correct but it sounds fabulous!).

“She Moved Through the Fair” is a must, of course. The 2002 version is much less vulnerable than Loreena McKennitt’s , but it is really a bit too much to ask that a young singer like Sarah to be able to communicate such a dramatic narrative. “She Moved Through the Fair” is, after all, a tale of life, love, and tragic death. This version doesn’t lack anything in the synth department, though.

“Genevieve’s Waltz” is a song by Manus McGuire, and is in that sense a more “modern” song. It flows wonderfully, and I like how the guitar takes over from the flute halfway, exploring and refining the theme. The conclusion is magnificent!

Of all the fine lullabies on “Celtic Fairy Dream”, the song “Little Bird (Éiníní)” is the most sleep-inducing. It is like a sleeping pill, but much more effective. “Across the Waves (Trasna na d’Tonnta)” ends the album triumphantly. Nothing beats the feeling of returning home. The song is a feast for the ears.

In conclusion: I wrote above that “Celtic Fairy Dream” by 2002 couldn’t have been released at a better time. It offers the band’s many fans much-needed comfort during these difficult times. That said, it is a truly timeless album that will play well also under much more joyful circumstances. The fairy theme aside, “Celtic Fairy Dream” is really a down-to-earth release with many classical inspirations that will give joy to new and old fans alike. It is a great installment in 2002’s Celtic Fairy series, and the songs “Castle of Dromore” and “The Green Fields of Autumn” are destined to become New Age music hits.

It is tempting to ask; When will 2002 release an “Orinoco Flow”, “May It Be” or “Caribbean Blue”? My answer is simple; It is a matter of time. “Only time.”
Score: 97/100
Rating: Excellent
The Fire Within by Jennifer Thomas
- posted by Robin James on 5/21/2020
The Fire Within by Jennifer Thomas
Energy! Flair! Drama! This spectacular piano lover's creation lifts you up and pushes you higher and then finishes strong. The music gives you power and features a compelling collection of songs using the keys of the grand piano, often with a violin, often with a whole section of masterful and strong strings, a full orchestra, a choir, how can one person wield so much power? The sensations build and grow, this is a classical masterpiece that would fit nicely in the perfect New Age music collection as well as the traditional sound of a tuxedo for your ears. The strings you hear on this album are all real, not from the synthesizer, and you can certainly feel it. This is the power of classical music.
Jennifer Thomas began playing the piano and violin at the age of five, she is an independent American composer, pianist, violinist, concert performer, and recording artist. Her genre of music includes Classical, Crossover, and New Age, she is known for writing and performing piano-centered orchestral music from classical music to classical music crossover and cinematic orchestral. The Fire Within is Thomas's sixth album. 2007 saw her debut in the classical crossover market with Key of Sea, which has a 10 Year Special Edition. Her other titles include The Lullaby Album, Vols 1 & 2 (2009), Illumination (2012) and Winter Symphony (2015).
The Fire Within starts with a duel, a duet. This is life and death, a relentless pulse, building and layering, building some more, pause, and then building again with sweeping strings bringing it down on us, then around and up, and then again and again. "The Fire Within" (5:21) has a video that alternates between the concert hall and the stark wilderness of a desert, featuring the two rivals, Jennifer Thomas and Kimberly Starkey AKA The Rogue Pianist, trading thunderbolts on their keyboards. With all the facial expressions and makeup from an operatic other world. This is a tale of rivalry, competition, passion and ambition. It starts by pretending to be just two keyboard divas and by the end the pianos appear to be on fire, all rosy-pretty with flames, followed by embers brightly snapping. I am assured that no pianos were harmed to make this epic spectacle, just clever cinematics and tricks of the screen.

The next song begins with a subtle piano played with a light touch, joined by a singing violin, and eventually the duet is supported by a team of master musicians, all sad and emotional, comforting us all as if after coming through a terrible night with new strength. "Awakening" (5:00) has the vision, power and control of an epic film for your ears. This song is all about growing hope. Thoughtful and delightful, "Girl in the Mirror" (3:49) sounds to me like an examined life lived building towards hope, precious moments, a flute joins the piano. Strong and cinematic, "Rise of the Phoenix" (4:04) pulls you up, you can feel the power, from the empty ashes after a complete loss, this song is a bright light, a new fire to forge a steel foundation. A piano blended with the glittering edge provided by a full orchestra, carefully arranged and defined, with joyful passages between the crashing thematic episodes. Quietly building, like a heartbeat at the start of a marathon, "Ascension" (4:26) brings tension, intrigue, precision, always steadily increasing in power, piano and violin with brilliant shadows skillfully supporting the passion, in turn building to gigantic heights on wings provided by the orchestra and the voice of a choir. This is a sad song that provides great hope. Quiet with a confident glow, "Soaring" (5:30) takes us up in heavenly wings, the piano sparkles with arpeggiated trills, joined by the choral wisdom of the angels. The arc begins with a colorul glow then carefully with amazing airspeed rises higher and higher, until it crests, with a nice dramatic big gong just for that perfect moment, while the angels proceed with endless precision. This song guides us with careful wings to a great elevation.

A thoughtful and affirming love song, "Because of You" (4:15) builds on a simple melody that casts spectacular shadows, a satisfying and simple piano blending with soaring strings, thankful affirming and confident. The orchestra brings in the piano to start things off, but quickly there is a pulsing funky groove that can get you off your seat, which is unusual for classical music. "Believer" (4:12) written by Imagine Dragons has a bright rhythm that catches you by surprise and thrills like a broadway original, a tale we can all understand, featuring that rhythm that brings me back again and again, this is my favorite song, after the title song with its operatic drama. The choir adds a whole new level of stimulation. A haunting and persistent solo piano starts and the wise orchestral sound builds and gathers, time never stops. Han Zimmer’s "Time" (4:38) keeps weaving the piano with the strings, the choir strengthens the emotional charge, and the handclap accents at the end provides a steady inertia, gliding as the tune fades to the solo piano. Flowing and bubbling, a strong dazzling light, if you want it, "Glorious" (3:46) and proud, this is the perfect conclusion for our listening adventure.

Empowering music is precious, this is powerful. Good music is a good friend to have.

The Fire Within
Girl in the Mirror
Rise of the Phoenix
Because of You
Rating: Excellent
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