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New Age CD Reviews By Diane Garris
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Passions
By Force For Good
Label: Sprout Recordings
Released 2/1/2020
Passions tracks
1. Force
2. Safe
3. Ice
4. Community
5. Refuge
6. Happiness
7. Exceptional
8. For
9. Organic
10. Solar
11. Harmony
12. Mountains
13. Courage
14. Hope
15. Grace
16. Good
Passions Album Review
Bold and visionary, “Passions” is an unforgettable, “must have,” epic kind of album. The music, melodies, writing, production, everything, is first-rate all the way through. Truly stellar. – Dyan Garris
___

“Passions” is a very ambitious and special music and film project. The mission of the organization, Force For Good, created by Jonathan Sprout, is to unify, inspire, and empower people. Grammy® Award nominated, and award-winning composer/singer, Jonathan, founded Force for Good in order to bring awareness to important social issues facing our planet. Force For Good creates uplifting music and “song-films” that encourage personal and global well-being, happiness, and respect for the environment.

The organization is comprised of an impressive team of musicians, filmmakers, engineers, marketers and publicists who, like Jonathan, want to help make the world a better place. Joining founder/composer Jonathan Sprout, who has recorded 12 albums, performed more than 6,500 concerts and taught more than 800 songwriting workshops throughout the United States, are: Multi-instrumentalist, Joe Mennonna, Rodney Whittenberg, an Emmy Award-winning composer and Emmy-nominated filmmaker, award-winning public relations professional, Sharla Feldscher, audio engineer, Leslie Chew, who has worked as engineer/producer for a range of Grammy® nominated projects and clients, and award-winning writer and singer/songwriter, Hillary Black, who also serves as editor. Can you feel the palatable synergy between these people jumping off the page? I can. And you will feel it when you listen to the album and watch the films as well.

On the album, “Passions,” multi-instrumentalist Joe Mennonna played all keyboards, woodwinds and brass instruments, and performed midi programming, including cello and bass viol, percussion, and strings. Jonathan performed on acoustic 12-string guitar. All songs on “Passions” are essentially piano based – rich, melodic, and beautiful – and were co-written and produced by Jonathan Sprout and Joe Mennonna, with stunning orchestration and instrumental performances. The wonderful watercolor album art was created by Carol Sprout, Jonathan’s mother. The album is dedicated to the memory of both Jonathan’s parents. And they would be proud. The album is beyond brilliant.

Several of the songs on “Passions,” will have their own accompanying film. The first film release of the collection is the film, “Ice.” You can find this on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KO61x3OeNeE. Here, in the film, “Ice,” through vivid imagery, ice is shown as one of Earth’s dwindling resources. And we are encouraged and challenged to do something on individual levels to help reduce the effects of climate change. More films based upon the songs and global themes are to follow. So far, those are: “Harmony,” “Courage,” “Solar,” “Refuge,” “Community,” “Happiness,” “Grace,” “Safe,” “Mountains,” “Organic,” “Hope” and “Exceptional.”
“Passions,” the album, is 16 tracks and begins with the 14 second “Force.” This very brief song is a dynamic and cinematic introduction to the album, and a perfect opening. It is also the intro for the Force For Good films. Recognizable and memorable, like a logo, this is a “song logo.”

“Safe” comes next, which begins with a tender piano solo and then builds into cinematic splendor with flute, clarinet, (Joe Mennonna), and passionate acoustic 12-string guitar (Jonathon Sprout). This is poignant and heart-touching. The message is that sensible gun regulation helps ensure safer communities, and all deserve to feel safe.

The song, “Ice,” follows. Somber piano, strings, and wordless vocals (Hillary Black) give us pause for reflection. Again, for the full picture, be sure to catch the first film release, “Ice,” on YouTube.

“Community” reminds us that there is a solidarity, togetherness, and spirit present in a community. This is a great song, featuring Joe Mennonna on flowing, passionate piano, mellophone, euphonium, and tuba. Ethereal, wordless vocals by Hillary Black add even more depth. Truly lovely.

“Harmony” is a favorite and carries the message to stand with those who help us live in a safer and less violent world, and to be one of those people as well. The song features Joe on mellophone, euphonium, string and synth programming, and features Leslie Chew on electric guitar. The film, “Harmony,” will be released in February, 2020.

At some point in life we may find ourselves needing to count on the kindness of strangers. The message of “Refuge” is to not be a stranger to those seeking refuge. Here we have Joe’s performances on clarinet, trumpet, mellophone, euphonium, and tuba, as well as piano. This is a melodic, poignant tune. Beautifully done and heart-touching.

Along with the other instrumentation, including piano, on “Happiness,” we are also treated to Jonathan’s performance on acoustic 12-string guitar. The message is that all have a right to happiness. And this is definitely a melodic, uplifting, and happy tune.

“Exceptional” reminds us that what we do with our gifts and talents, strengths and weaknesses, can truly make us exceptional. The song features Joe on soprano saxophone, with a beautiful piano melody as well, plus other instrumentation. Really love this and can’t wait for the film, which undoubtedly will be exceptional as well. Completely gorgeous in all regards.

“Organic” Is “earthy,” and a tribute to organically grown foods and farms. It begins with nice lower register piano and grows into a full blown musical feast with Joe on mellophone, euphonium, tuba, and Leslie Chew on electric guitar.

Solar technology makes the sun a viable, inexhaustible energy source, and the song, “Solar,” is flowing, warm, and bright like our sun. This is a very beautiful song, with ethereal, wordless vocals and exquisite piano. It’s my ultimate favorite on “Passions.” This has a mysterious, heavenly quality that sticks with you long after the song ends.

Uplifting, and majestic, “Mountains” starts off slowly and then builds into stunning splendor. Again, as throughout, the piano is unbelievably spectacular. Jonathan performs on acoustic 12-string guitar and Leslie is on electric guitar. Here we are easily reminded of the glorious nature of nature and to honor and protect it. I’m looking forward to the film, which I am sure will be utterly magnificent.

“Courage” feels like an epic cinematic production. It’s amazing. Strings, piano, drums, it’s all big and glorious. The message of the song is that it takes courage to stand up not only for our own rights, the rights of others.
Hope inspires the belief that we can change the world to create a better place for everyone. The song, “Hope,” features Joe on piano, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, mellophone, euphonium, as well as Leslie on electric guitar. This has somewhat of a Celtic flavor in spots. It’s uplifting, interesting, and inspiring.

Just when I thought I knew my favorites on “Passions,” along came “Grace.” The message is for us to appreciate beauty and perfection in everything we experience no matter what it looks like. This is astoundingly beautiful. Astounding. Melodic, flowing, elegant, and ethereal, this is definitely one for everyone’s playlist. Gorgeous.

“Passions” is an unforgettable “must have” epic, inspiring kind of album. The music, melodies, writing, everything, is first-rate all the way through. Truly stellar.

Get “Passions” here: https://www.forceforgoodmusic.com/ or wherever music is sold/streamed/downloaded.

NOTE: February 1, 2020 release date. At the time of this review, you may pre-order “Passions” at Amazon and iTunes.

See film trailers here: https://www.forceforgoodmusic.com/music-film
Rating: Excellent   Excellent
- reviewed by Dyan Garris on 1/23/2020
 
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