September 16, 2018

New Age World Review: Monica Williams-Journey of Tears

Release Date: September 21, 2018
Label: Heart Dance Records

Journey of Tears is a collection of original works by flutist/composer Monica Williams with guest artists on the album including fingerstyle guitarist Darin Mahoney, New Age flutist Sherry Finzer, and vocalist Alexa Nadramia.

There are 10 tracks to absorb on Journey of Tears. It reflects humanity, our daily struggles, our victories, our pleasure, and our pain. It is all about the growth one can experience through all the human emotions. This how Monica Williams relates to her listeners through her music. Hopefully, after we listen our realizations and experiences become clearer and more purposeful.

Monica’s love for the flute started while attending Eastman School of Music. The worldly colors and textures the instrument could produce with calming soundscapes were what attracted her. I was never a real big fan of the flute, sometimes in the context of rock music it sounded good but then I started hearing it in a different way. 

This type of world music is sprouting and growing via the new age genre and culture and it has opened many doors for me. To put it in an all-inclusive perspective, the way I usually do is to say it touches my mind, body, and spirit. This is the quintessential triangle of life. It is through recordings like Journey of Tears where I discover and rediscover new realities and levels of spiritualism.

Monica plays beautifully throughout all the tracks and it reaches an apex on the curtain closer “The Great Beyond.” It is gorgeous flute solo with the angelic voicings of Alexa Nadramia. The vocals add another element that is not found in the previous tracks and it is an amazing way to end the musical journey that this talented lady offers. The tracks run is over eight minutes, and every second of it is pure new age world music heaven. If this music does not give you a glimpse of a way to get closer to your higher power then I do not know what would.

Monica Williams is a multi-talented individual that has so much to offer in her music. She is also an accomplished teacher with 35 students currently. So not only is she sharing the sounds of various hybrid flutes, she is sharing her knowledge with others. That is the true meaning of passing the torch to the next generation of musicians.

Journey of Tears is an enormous success and although I am setting the bar high for folks that have not heard the album yet, I am certain that you will not be disappointed in any way. If you happen to enjoy earthy textured flute music, you will think your nirvana has finally arrived.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
September 14, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
01. Raining Tears
02. Conversations Within
03. New Horizons
04. Unconditional Love
05. On the Edge
06. Finding Peace
07. Constant Change
08. Wandering
09. Love From A Distance
10. The Great Beyond
 

September 13, 2018

Contemporary Instrumental Review: Holland Phillips - Leaning Toward Home

Release Date: September 21, 2018
Label: Ageless Records

My experience with the music of Holland Phillips is Circles of 8 and then I went on another journey with Under a Second Moon. Now another year has already passed and Leaning Toward Home will be arriving within a matter of days.

I get off easy calling Holland’s music contemporary instrumental. It is hard to define so that is the best tag to put on it. It is a fusion of sounds. You can call it whatever you want but I do highly recommend giving it all a good listen.

All the music was composed and performed by Holland. The man is a magician on the keyboards and he generates enough instrumentation to sound like an entire band on this recording.

I like being challenged with music, in a sense that it makes me think, it allows me my own space inside my head and in my soul. That is the complete circle for this listener. It takes a special kind of music to allow that to happen. Holland could not have said it better when he referred to this production as magic. To me, that is the beauty and perfection of music, more importantly, instrumental music that has the ability to sweep you away to an altered consciousness, a better state of mind, body, and spirit.

The title track said it all for me. It has that magical and mystical atmosphere that takes you right in and hangs on until the track fades away. There are so many sounds, consistencies, and bright colors to be discovered on “Leaning Toward Home.”  In fact, the entire recording offers so much diversity in sound that each track brings another feeling and atmosphere to light, it is like watching an ever-changing colorful lava lamp except this is translated to sounds, vibrations, something that is more meaningful and spiritual.

I think what Holland Phillips wants more than anything is for you, the listener, to discover the magic that he did in the music. Your realizations that are found inside the music can be joyous, revealing and mind-expanding. It is what you make it, the choice is yours.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
September 11, 2018

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Review Provided By MuzikMan Music Reviews & News

Tracks:

01. Prelude to a Dance
02. Before the Epilogue
03. Roadside Brew
04. Time Travels
05. A Sip of Potion
06. Moving Forward
07. Leaning Toward Home
08. Full Circle
09. Surprising Turns
10. Along the Way
11. Bedtime Stories

 

September 9, 2018

New Age/Classical/Ambient Review: Karen Olson-SongPath

Release Date: July 13th, 2018
Label: Soundview Records

SongPath is Karen Olson's 8th CD release and is a companion to her soon to be published book entitled, SoundPath: Using the Power of Sound and Silence for Health, Harmony, and Happiness. Notably, SongPath is in the top 10 on four Billboard charts including Classical and #3 as the Highest-Ranking Debut New Age Album so far in 2018.

According to Karen’s website:  She combines her unique background as a Violist, Recording Artist, Composer, Author, and intuitive Holistic Healer, to make a positive difference in the lives of others through interactive programming, events, and concert performances that are fun, inspiring, and transformative.
Karen Olson is a respected healer, practitioner, and musician. With SongPath she adds to her already incredibly impressive resume of releases and has reached the pinnacle (thus far) of her musical achievements for variety, depth, and healing. 

I think after listening to her latest offering I can agree with that statement. I covered A Hero’s Journey in 2016 and was quite impressed. It is nice to find out 2 years later that I feel the same about her music. 

SongPath is very wide-ranging. One of the tracks that caught me completely off guard was “New Ways.” It is an electronic-R&B- rap style song. I think it was titled appropriately considering I never expected to hear such a big change in direction on this album. Olivia Meihofer provides the excellent vocals as she does on other songs as well. I give Karen credit for stretching out musically and taking a chance. I enjoyed the song because it was so different and done very well. I imagine there will be new age fans that will probably not appreciate it but that is ok. All the rest of the album is more along the lines of what you would expect from Karen.

With her “New Ways” you will find “Inspiration” and “Serenity” and an “Adventure” inside the music. All of that is wrapped in a nice package for the prospective listener. 

Personally, if I can find pleasure in any type of music, it is healing. It doesn’t necessarily have to have a certain tag on it for it to work, but that is for me. In this case, the label of new age, classical and ambient certainly fits. What you will discover is joy, healing and quite a range of sounds and styles that would satisfy any musical palette. 

SongPath is a prolific release from my viewpoint mainly based on the fact the lead instrument is a viola. That my music loving friends is not an easy task to accomplish, yet Karen Olson makes it sound like it is all very natural, with very concise musicianship and a flow that syncs with your inner voice and soul.  That covers it all as far as I am concerned.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
September 9, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
1. Ever Peace
2. Why Not
3. Adventure
4. Moving Higher
5. Reminding
6. Inspiration
7. New Ways
8. Gaining Grace
9. Serenity

 

September 4, 2018

Instrumental World-Jazz-Fusion Review: Ron Korb-World Café

Release Date: August 8, 2018
Label: Humbledragon
Website



Flutist Ron Korb released World Café last month. This is his twentieth proper release. That is quite a catalog of recordings for any career. This is my first time hearing his music and I was anticipating some great sounds just by looking at the title. To give you the right looking glass before listening, I would prepare yourself for some excellent world-jazz-fusion.


World encompasses a broad range in relation to anything however for music it means something very special. You know you are in for some ear candy when that word is part of the genre. In this case, you will hear Latin-infused instrumentation led by Rons magnificent flute playing.

My musical taste buds were meant for any kind of Latin music, this was not an acquired taste, I have always enjoyed this type of music. I love the rhythms and particularly the percussion that lays down that hotbed of sound. Larry Crowe is the main percussionist throughout with the exception of the superb Carnival and Hilario where Papiosco adds his congas and timbale to the mix.  Bill Evans, the long-time collaborator of Ron, is steady throughout the entire album on the keys. Having the right chemistry between players is always so important for a successful recording session, it becomes very clear that is the case here.


If you are appreciative of the flute you will feel you have struck gold on World Café. I have always appreciated the flute in rock or jazz recordings. One of the factors that I greatly appreciate about this album is that the artist actually travels to the lands that are the subject matter of his music. All the music was written and composed by Ron, everything is the real deal with this man.


The CD comes encased in a quality hardbound book style with each page containing pictures, anecdotes and a list of the contributing musicians. This is not just a listening experience, it is all-encompassing. Through the CD booklet pages and the music, you get to feel the atmosphere of where he is and imagine the colors, sounds and smells wafting through the air. World Café is everything that it says it is and a little bit more for the astute listener. It is without a doubt my pick for best fusion album of 2018 and the bar is set very high to challenge it.


Keith MuzikMan Hannaleck

September 4, 2018


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Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
01. Bailar Conmigo (Dance with Me)
02. Sans Regret
03. Cordoba
04. Hilario
05. Island Life
06. Argentina
07. Take My Hand
08. Patagonia
09. Sans Regret Reprise
10. New Orleans
11. Carnival
12. Sans Regret Finale 


September 1, 2018

Instrumental Ambient/New Age/Classical Review: Barbara Hills-The Flowers Suite

Release Date: August 1, 2018
Label: House in the Wood Productions


Barbara Hills likes to refer to her music as “painting sound.”  Interesting enough is the fact that she does paint, and flowers are her specialty. One of the examples is the cover of her latest release The Flowers Suite. What you find out after hearing her music is how these two things can go hand in hand.


I also have referred many times over the years to music as taking a blank canvas a filling it with colors, feelings, atmospheres, and life. In the same thought process, any listener can then do the same while and paint their own canvas in their mind. I always have been able to create some kind of running story or images listening to moving instrumental music. With The Flowers Suite I found that ability to do so quite easily, it was a natural transition. She also takes sounds of nature and her surroundings and blends it with her music to get a wonderful result.

What I appreciated the most about The Flowers Suite was how eclectic it was. All twelve tracks have their own personality, a different painting if you will from the multi-talented artist. The most moving songs for me were “Sweet William,” it captured my imagination and stirred my spirit, then “Hedgerow Walk” really got my attention. The “Hedgerow Walk” is an entertaining 16 minutes of progressive ambient instrumental music. Granted 16 minutes is a long run for any track however if it is done properly it can mesmerize the listener. In the case of this particular a musical stretching of thoughts and forms, it most certainly sounded like music being painted into your consciousness.  I think the end result is quite amazing. It is a great example of an artist using all of the talents and instrumentations at her disposal to create something special and memorable for the instrumental music fan. 

If you happen to fancy ambient music with some changing scenery this will be a real pleasure. It is all done with a new age flair and a solid foundation of classical to hold it all together. It is an omnibus of sounds and colors conjoining to make a beautiful painting.

The Flowers Suite is a triumph of sound and art for Barbara Hills. I am certain that any instrumental music fan can find appreciation somewhere amongst the bounty of sounds that this talented lady provides. I think this recording could serve as soundtrack music for the film industry or for an individual searching to create their own soundtrack or painting in the mind's eye. I highly recommend giving this album a thorough listen as there is so much just waiting for you to discover!

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
August 30, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
01. Love-In-A-Mist
02. Among Lilies
03. Through Iris Halls
04. The First Snowdrop   
05. When Cherry Blossoms Fall
06. On Hawkweed Bank
07. Sweet William   
08. Forget-Me-Nots
09. Creeping Buttercup
10. Where Heather Grows
11. Hedgerow Walk
12. Canyons Of The Black Tulip

 

August 29, 2018

Instrumental Ambient/Electronic/New Age Review: Stephanie Sante-Clear Light

Release Date: July 20, 2018
Label:
Sante Music
Website

According to Stephanie Sante’s website her newest offering, Clear Light is as follows:

Clear Light, a tribute to the beauty, mystery and power of earth’s oceans, from ancient times to the present. The music ranges from buoyant, jubilant and energetic to softer, gentler, floating pieces. Clear Light takes the listener on an underwater journey of exploration and fascination.

After hearing the first few tracks of this album it was sounding more ambient and electronica than new age. It is more like Jean-Michel Jarre than say Kitaro for instance. Here is a point is well taken, music such as this borders on being new age or very close to it. I think if I were to put any kind of label on it I would choose ambient/new age instrumental. The ambient for its obvious textures and layers of synths and keyboards, and the new age in slices that line up with the image on the cover of the album, the title, and the relaxing elements that would allow a listener to sink into a chair a float away inside their mind or meditate. I think that is a fair enough assessment of what I heard on Clear Light.

I am not saying all this in a negative context at all, it is quite the opposite. I love music like this and the two artists I mentioned are favorites of mine along with others such as the work Bowie and Eno did on Low. When I was younger and first heard that I thought Bowie had gone off the deep end. Now I absolutely love it and can see the genius in what the man created. Music that is explorative and reaching out to find different realms of consciousness, can be found on Clear Light. It becomes an extension of that beginning process every listener goes through. For me now it through the ears of a more mature and advanced listener, not to mention a more spiritual and wise man (which took me many years to arrive at and many mistakes and obstacles).

It truly is amazing how music triggers so many emotions, thoughts, and good feelings. It stimulates every part of me, my brain, body, soul, and breathing. It is only music with different tones, colors, and rhythms that can make that happen. If there is repetitiveness in the background for rhythm and many other things coming in to keep it interesting and attention-getting, then I am good to go. Stephanie does an excellent job of keeping it all fresh and interesting. I think it can be difficult to do that as a solo artist working with various synths, computer-generated sounds, and keyboards.

Clear Light carries on the tradition of thoughtful and creative music as it the busyness of the day melts away. All of those thoughts and tasks of the day just flow away, then are replaced by joy, warmth, love, and clarity. Stephanie takes you there with her music. In 9 tracks of an enchanted journey through time, space and nature, you are delivered to another world, perfect for those of you seeking simple solace or an opportunity to meditate.


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
August 29, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
1. Clear Light
2. Deep Impression
3. Salacia's Dream
4. Jade Resonance
5. Melt Like Snow
6. The Color Of Coral
7. Fractured Echoes
8. Moonlit Starfish
9. Mariana


August 26, 2018

Acoustic Instrumental Review: Ryan Judd-An Open Sky

Release Date: September 7, 2018
Label: Two Owls Music

Ryan Judd is a board-certified music therapist with a master's degree in music therapy and psychology. He works with children with special needs and found it was his calling once the opportunity was put in front of him. Bless people like Ryan, where would we be without out these saints to help us?

He also happens to be a very good guitar player. His music led him to his education and his final destination. His service is called The Rhythm Tree, which is very appropriate for his chosen field. An Open Sky introduces his music that helps his clients.

With the exquisite cello playing of Kristen Miller to accompany him, the album offers 10 tracks of acoustic bliss. I wonder if the Two Owls (Music) are referring to the two folks making all the music on this album?

If the instruments are played well and the arrangements are right for the particular instruments it can work very well. In this case, it certainly turns out that way as this duo combine to create some heavenly sounds. The whole idea behind this is that music is healing - yes, it is! I think with this fairly new profession of music therapy, that has come into focus more prominently. I remember watching a story about Glen Campbell when he was in the earlier stages of Alzheimer's and how he could remember all the words to his songs but anything else was a struggle. That is the power of music. Before he died he recorded an amazing album called Ghost on the Canvas. That story and that music have made such an impression on me, I will never forget it. It totally changed my way of thinking when it comes to music, the healing kind. 

All of those thoughts and feelings quickly coalesce for me when I hear music like I heard on An Open Sky. I think in this timeframe, the one that all of this was recorded, the artist opened his heart and soul to create this beautiful music. It does not take long for me to realize that after I understand why the music was made and for what purpose. I do not need that as an influence to hear and write about music, however, knowing more about how it came to be, made the listening experience that much more powerful. It is a tool to heal those that need help in any way, not necessarily for those that have special needs, anyone that needs some sort of healing can benefit from music like this.

Thanks to more and more people like Ryan Judd and recordings like An Open Sky I have evolved as a listener and spiritually. I am amazed at the power music holds for any listener. There is a lot of thought and effort that goes into making music so important to so many people. So, I say with all of my heart and soul, thank you, Ryan, for what you do for people and helping to make me a better person by listening to your music and reading your story.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
August 25, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
01. Looking Back
02. The Embrace
03. An Open Sky
04. Heartstrings
05. Weightless
06. Autumn Light
07. Spanish Sunrise
08. Her Beauty Shines Through
09. Under the Willow Tree
10. Winter Harbo
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