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Voices of the Guardians by Gareth Laffely
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 10/18/2018
We can all be one!
Voices of the Guardians must be one of the most uplifting and inspiring Native American albums to have come out of the industry for a decade. Laffely and Bendiksen have indeed created with the help of the amazing Skywalker Symphony and the vocal talents of the outstanding Wes Studi, an album that will live forever in the hearts of all.
The symphonic nature combined with the utter brilliance on flue of Laffely simply stuns me into silence whilst listening, and tracks like the effervescent Spirit Quest and the breath taking Apache Tears are fine examples of this musical genius at work.
I usually like to name a favourite or two on my reviews, but this time I cannot do so, as each and every composition lays next to my heart with an abundance of joy and oneness, tracks like Sacred Hoop, an offering and a subject which is part of my very soul still raises the energies within me, the piano, percussion and flute all in perfect symbiosis is simple blissful.
Studi’s powerful words feature on many tracks and are especially empowering in the arrangement Reaching The Border. The piano of Bendiksen is truly superb here and narrates the tale of the journey so well with Laffely’s flute.
This entire album has been created through truth, love and respect and these qualities echo through the canyons of this album with an obvious intent to inspire the need of love, a desire of peace and tolerance of attitude; tracks like the inspiring Elders, and the last offering, the deeply moving Traditions remind us that this is so.
Voices of the Guardians has it all, dramatic flair, great style of composition and arrangement, perfect production, an honest and loving intent to highlight that perhaps at least through music, we can all be one, it would be impossible not to recommend this album it is that good.

Rating: Excellent
Beautiful Journey by Brenda Warren
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 10/18/2018
Bathe in the marvelous tones
There is something so utterly charming about Beautiful Journey by Brenda Warren, she has a unique style and creates such a blissful musical narrative with the piano, it is a Beautiful Journey indeed.
From the very sun kissed opening piece Imagine Spring she guides our way, and from its refrains flows so majestically into the lush and calming opus of Open Heart, a track so serene and calming, this contains the first essences of the magic hand of Will Ackerman’s team at Imaginary Road Studios with such a mournful, but soothing string section.
This voyage of charm and grace offers up a wondrous 12 magical tracks to simply get lost within. Like the title track itself or the absolutely delightful New Morning, once more embracing the subtle, but dreamy violin of Charlie Bisharat.
The ambience created by Warren on this album is beyond time and measure, we could wonder in its tones with ease, and helping us along the way would be gems like the peace filled Blue Sky Day, a track so redolent of sitting on the side of a hill and watching the day go by, and to finish with the so smooth and poignant offering entitled Forgiveness, was a touch of sublime genius.
Brenda Warren and Beautiful Journey has to be one of the most chilled and relaxing piano based albums I have heard for a long while. Warren has a performance style that is so musically colourful and sensitive, it’s just a pleasure to bathe in its tones and her marvellous creations and allow the tranquillity of the moment to take control, a thoroughly recommended album indeed.
Rating: Excellent
Lonely Satellite by Lena Natalia
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 10/18/2018
Colourful, exciting and accessible to all
Lena Natalia has a style all of her own, she is a crafting musician who cares for each and every nuance of her work, now on her latest release entitled Lonely Satellite, that care and attention to detail is very evident indeed.
This mixture of piano and keyboards, manifest a level of contemporary instrumental music that is simply addictive to listen to, tracks like Munich Train 7HO4, drive the constant narrative onward, and you literally ride down the tracks of the German railway with ease.
Her solo piano performances are equally colourful and filled with such a pristine quality and style, examples of such can be found on the pieces Papillon and A Heroine of our Time (Lenatov), both compositions are so very fluent indeed.
Lonely Satellite is one of those albums that whilst listening to, time seems to just drift by, and daylight has become night with a seamless transition; offerings like the mood filled Duel, an energetic and intense composition with a fine flavouring of multi-instrumentalism, and the moody and hovering Gathering Clouds, create a narrative of for a foreboding future ahead, these really do highlight a sublime care of composition and arrangement.
Natalia touches the hem of passion on the all imploring Misunderstanding, and then lightens the load with a truly fun track called On the Merry-Go-Round, whilst finishing with the classic closing finale called The End Approaches.
I have always had a lot of respect for the work of Lena Natalia and Lonely Satellite, a 15 track offering, goes a long way to establishing her as one of the best female contemporary instrumental artists around today, her artistic endeavours and creative spirit are indeed her strong suit, and from this heart on a sleeve approach Natalia has once again delivered an album to the listeners, that is extremely colourful, exciting and accessible to all.
Rating: Excellent
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