November 29, 2015

New Age Instrumental Review: Brian Kelly-Butterfly Rapture

Release Date: October 1, 2015
Label: Skylight Music

Brian Kelly is a composer and recording artist who began his musical career when he was a child. Butterfly Rapture is his third album done in the neoclassical tradition with influences ranging from Celtic, gospel and jazz. The album is a crisp solo piano experience, with sparkling composition and a resonance that sticks with you long after the last song plays. If you can stop listening. My play button is getting worn out on this one and what a joy that is.

“Lilac Horizon” is a tender and fluid piece, with layered piano work that evokes imagery of the poignant life moments that linger. Pensive and thoughtful, the winding nature of this track flows together like the never ending gears of time. Always moving forward, no matter what. The horizon is always just out of reach and we struggle to grasp that elusive glimpse of what is to be.

“Winter Aura” has a starkness about it that captures the essence of winter. Cold beauty claims the ruddy umber flavor of autumn and covers the land with delicate ice crystals and a blanket of soft white snow. The deep keystrokes and elemental playing delve deep into the introspective nature of this season of the year and bring forth the longing for home and hearth; of family and the familiar. At times playful and others more contemplative, this encapsulates all that winter has to offer, all from the masterful keystrokes of Kelly’s fingertips.

“Butterfly Rapture” is the title track and last piece on the album. Tumultuous like a butterfly beating its wings against the vast expanse of sky, it opens its wings and shines beauty down upon us all. Vibrant colors move within each well-crafted portion of the composition. The melodies twist and frolic like a meadow filled with small beating wings and the brilliant majesty brought with every nuance and flutter.

Solo piano can, in some instances, feel like a very long extension of the same song but not this album. Each track has its own flavor of music and takes the listener on a journey inside the mind of the artist. From snowy jaunts in “Winter Aura” to the first track “Piano Escapades” where we are first introduced to Kelly’s dazzling style, this album is a many faceted jewel any piano connoisseur will be thrilled to have in their collection.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Lilac Horizon, Winter Aura, Butterfly Rapture

01. Piano Escapade
02. Room for Sky
03. Flowers at Her Feet
04. Lilac Horizon
05. Chasing a Breeze
06. Spiral Moon
07. Hills in Bloom
08. Niko's Delight    
09. Playing My Heart
10. View from the Swing
11. Winter Aura
12. Butterfly Rapture

Dana Wright, Sr. Staff Writer
November 29, 2015
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

November 23, 2015

New Age Instrumental/Classical Review: Rodney Wilson-For His Good Pleasure

Release Date: 2015
Label: Indie

Everyone gets a needed jolt at some point in their life that serves as a wakeup call. Rodney Wilson got one that saved his life. He was experiencing some physical issues and found out he needed bypass surgery. To say this album is about matters of the heart is an understatement to be sure.

For His Good Pleasure is an awakening from another source, God, a higher power or the voice from within that some folks refer to as the higher self. Whatever concept of a higher power that works for you is a fit for this album. For Rodney this approach worked and he recovered completely and decided to dedicate this album to that experience.

"Healing In His Wings" was my first focus track on the album and featured on the Rate The Tracks site. It brings a lot of those thoughts and feelings about centering your inner self and reaching out for help from another source and then coming to the realization that something saved you. Essentially, if you want to look at it from this perspective, it is an invitation to open the door to the healing powers of faith.

“Joy After The Storm” is overcoming a difficulty and rejoicing in the rebirth of your life. It is about getting to the other side of any difficulty and reaping the benefits of seeing it all through, believing in yourself and the process. This music holds all the joy for you and the title of the track says it all.

The artist draws influences from the likes of Ennio Morricone and the music in turn that is created is very cinematic. It came as a natural process for this listener to envision this music playing during a movie, or one’s own life story if you will flickering inside your mind. In this case it applies strongly to the creator of this very music.

“Springs of Living Water” is also very picturesque as the piano playing is like a waterfall of emotions and the added instrumentation makes it more impactful. With all the feeling and movement you could imagine in such a track it got my attention quickly and was another one that stood out. Water is life, and it is from whence we came and it serves as a reminder of the spring of life in a physical sense related to the earth. It is what we hold inside, the spark within. The powers of healing are available to us and are self-evident we just need to open our eyes.

For His Good Pleasure is an inspirational story set to a soundtrack regarding one man’s journey and the miracles of self-awareness and paying attention to the guide posts that come graciously and unconditionally to us in life. I for one am a grateful and appreciative listener so thank you Mr. Wilson for all of your talents and offering your story and making the music to capture the awakening.

4.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Healing In His Wings, Joy After The Storm, Springs of Living Water

01. Healing in His Wings
02. Take Me Safely Home
03. Hannah's Song
04. Springs of Living Water
05. The Father's Love
06. Joy After the Storm
07. Where Honor Stood
08. Faithful to Save
09. Great Is Thy Faithfulness
10. To Dance for His Pleasure

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck- New Age Music Reviews Founder
November 23, 2015
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

November 16, 2015

World-New Age-Rock Review: Blackmore’s Night-All Our Yesterdays

Release Date: September 18, 2015

Blackmore’s Night is a legendary band that blends together the most modern contemporary rock with the rhythms and feel of a Renaissance Faire. I fell in love with them the first time I heard their unique flavor of music and I have to say this latest installment in their catalog of albums is another five star piece of awesome. From well-known and loved cover songs to original ballads and instrumental pieces that will curl your toes; this album is lush with visual imagery that blurs the line of fairy tale and reality.

Blackmore’s Night is comprised of Ritchie Blackmore (guitarist and songwriter), Candice Night (vocals, lyricist), Bard David of Larchmont (keyboards, piano, organ, harpsichord, accordion and pipe organ), Lady Kelly DeWinter (voice, piano, French Horn, and various other musical instruments), Troubador of Aberdeen (percussion), Scarlet Fiddler (violin) and Earl Grey of Chimay (bass, mandolin, guitar). All Our Yesterdays is their newest album and focuses heavily on medieval rhythms.

“Allan Yn N Fan” is the second track on the album and is very Celtic in nature. Just listening to this vibrant composition, I felt like I was walking between the colorful tents of a Renfest, just waiting to catch a glimpse of a maiden fair or a knight in shining armor-but wait! An electric guitar amidst the eclectic jamboree. This piece is exactly why I adore this band. Even without the vocals, it shows the dedication each performer holds for their art. The music is full to bursting with love, life and a never ending search for that special zing that makes you beg for more.

“Moonlight Shadow” is an epic song leaning more toward the modern end of the spectrum. Electric guitar and a whirlwind of multi-instrumentation and percussive elements craft a journey on the wings of night. Candace’s vocals tell of adventure under the cover of darkness drafting a landscape of adventure under the shadow of the moon…

“Queen’s Lament” is an eloquently played piece you will want to savor with your eyes closed. A fine lady walks along, her heart in turmoil by a nameless worry. The strumming guitar simple in its majesty, a hint of ethereal sound in the background to illuminate the piece, like a great pearl in a setting of gold. This composition is a ghost story of a sort and will linger in your mind long after the last note ceases. It is deceptively simple but unyieldingly complex all at once.

“Will O’ The Wisp” is a journey through wild forests filled with sorcery. Candice’s angelic voice details a descent into darkness, following a will o’ wisp into the great beyond. The blend of instruments carries you to another time and if you close your eyes, you can feel the pulse of the excitement as you trail behind the ghostly being, intent on finding what it is you seek. Magic. Secrets. Mystery…

Blackmore’s Night has a catalog of albums but I find their newest to be their most impressive of all. All Our Yesterdays takes the finest of old and new and whips it together for a sugared concoction of medieval might and ethereal wanderings. From cover songs that ring familiar-but with a new flair you won’t be able to resist, the vocals of the angelic Candice to the instrumental antics of a band who can tempt even a writer with deadlines to listen just a little longer, this album is a must have. Take a break from your life and find a moment to spare for these bards. If you listen closely, you might hear the rustle of a fine lady’s gown and the clang of a jousting match in the background. Bring on the magic!

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Will O’ The Wisp, Moonlight Shadow, Allan Yn N Fan, Queen’s Lament

01. All of Our Yesterdays
02. Allan Yn N Fan
03. Darker Shade Of Black
04. Long Long Time
05. Moonlight Shadow
06. I Got You Babe
07. The Other Side
08. Queen's Lament
09. Where Are We Going From Here
10. Will O' The Wisp
11. Earth, Wind & Sky
12. Coming Home

Dana Wright, Sr. Staff Writer
November 16, 2015
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

November 11, 2015

Holiday/New Age Review: Steven C.-Christmas Beyond

Release Date: November 26, 2014
Label: Steven C Music

It never seems too early for Holiday music when artists like Steven C. (Anderson) release a set of recordings that combine elements of classical and new age to formulate something beyond what one would normally hear this time of year. In fact, the best way to describe it is Christmas Beyond. So forget about everything you know that is associated with this type of music, open your mind and heart and listen intently to what this talented man has to offer. It was very appropriate that the artist recorded this album in the majestic Cathedral of St. Paul, MN featuring his Bosendorfer Grand Piano.

My glimpse of the new vision of the traditional Holiday season was on our Rate The Tracks site when the focus was “Still,Still, Still.”  This track is a perfect blend of Holiday, New Age and Classical music. It gives the listener a crossover appeal and opens the door to some opportunity for a larger audience than what the genre would normally command. This is not clearly defined music as it stands alone and allows each listener’s own personal interpretations, which any good instrumental music will do. The difference is this release is special because of what it stands for. When I first heard “Still, Still, Still”  it initiated a sequence of feelings internally, first sadness that summer had past, then the joy and beauty of the annual foliage…as if God had a huge paint brush and carefully designed each tree with its own color. Now with those two seasons behind me my thoughts turned to Christmas, the most special and sacred time of year. This is when one wants to be surrounded by loved ones, friends, and thoughts of all those that have passed that built those yearly traditions long ago.

Music engages you and brings forth many feelings and visions, if it accomplishes that it has completed its mission, Christmas Beyond does that and so much more. 
“The Angel Gabriel” draws the curtain open to a story and it unfolds before you. The significance of Gabriel is documented in the Bible and in the story of Christmas. I think it was a great choice to start the recording. I like the way Steven intersects the winter season with the Holiday and how it is forever linked, particularly for those not living in year round warm climates. He also makes sure the importance of Thanksgiving is not forgotten and how it segues into the birth of Jesus. There is a lot to think about in this music and what actually makes it more contemplative is the fact that it is all instrumental. Without words there is one less thing to be distracted with or focus on, this way the music is completely absorbed and you reflect back on your own life and personal experiences of the Holiday.

“Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Winds” is an invitation to the elements of earth to work freely and perhaps is an indication of something on a spiritual level that says “Let the winds of change come through, we welcome them and the season and the beauty it offers us all.” This can be looked upon as a change in life or the effects it has on an individual. It is all in the way you perceive things happening in front of you. I thought the pace of the song was gentle and inviting even though winter winds can be brutally cold and wreak havoc, this gave me a different perspective on what it can mean.

As with anything in life it is all in your attitude, and what you believe is your truth or can be. Steven C. has created a masterful interpretation of the winter season and the most cherished Holiday of them all through beautiful piano based music. It is spiritual, relaxing and in sync with the upcoming Holidays right around the corner. I highly recommend you give it a listen; you may step away with some different ideas of what this time of year means. There is nothing like great music to reveal the truth and put a different spin on things. Christmas Beyond can be your North Star to follow to enlightenment this year.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Still, Still, Still, The Angel Gabriel, Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Winds         

01. The Angel Gabriel   
02. Sing We Now of Christmas   
03. Still, Still, Still    0
04. Ah, Bleak and Chill the Wintry Winds
05. In the Bleak Midwinter
06. Blow, Blow Thou Winter Winds
07. Infant Holy, Infant Lowly   
08. Carol of the Birds and Bells   
09. Little Drummer Boy   
10. Beyond a Midnight Clear   
11. Ave Thanksgiving   
12. Angels Heard: Do You Hear? I Heard!   
13. The Road Home
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck- New Age Music Reviews Founder
November 11, 2015
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

October 28, 2015

New Age/World Instrumental Review: Bill Leslie-Across The Water

Release Date: October 4, 2015
Label: Capitol Broadcasting Company

Bill Leslie has won numerous awards for his recordings over the years and it stands to reason that momentum will continue with the recent release of another instrumental classic titled Across The Water.

Across The Water is a 12 track tribute to Ireland including 10 songs composed by Leslie and two traditional tunes. The album features superlative musicians performing on acoustic guitar, grand piano, violin, cello, oboe, accordion, Celtic whistles, flutes, harp, uilleann pipes and stand-up bass. 

The title track turns the page on the story that unfolds to a gracious and inviting introduction and from that point each track seamlessly blends into the next as the colors and textures change as the journey moves along. The combination of several instruments makes for a new age/world treat for the senses.  

“Gaelic Ghost” which was featured on the Rate The Tracks site, really sets the tone and atmosphere for the premise of this recording. If you are not recognizing the Celtic essences of this track you are either oblivious to the world around you or just ignoring the beauty that is enveloping you at the moment. This is all about the long lineage and history of the people that shaped a land far away from our shores here in the U.S. but also a reminder of the immigrants that helped to make our great country.

I hear a longing and sadness and in the same instance a joyful remembrance of days long past in this music. The emotion and meaning found in these instrumental compositions are what stand out the most. "Irish Girl” framed it all for me with one listen. The precise piano playing, longing violin and enchanting flute give it a traditional feel helped along with today’s marvelous studio techniques and superb mastering.

I think it’s safe to say that Bill Leslie has created yet another masterpiece that will garner plenty of attention on a global scale. Inside this music is history, tradition and a beauty that has been lost in our high tech society. If you are feeling numb, listless and need some culture and colorful sounds to brighten and enhance your day give this album a spin, it is likely to change your perspective on things that you never considered before. Thought provoking music has a way of doing that.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Across the Water, Gaelic Ghost, Irish Girl


01. Across the Water
02. The Boatman
04. Miriam
05. Lorica
06. Gaelic Ghost
07. Stephanie
08. Irish Girl
09. Ring of Kerry
10. Cloud of Witnesses
11. Gougane Barra
12. Irish Blessing
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck- New Age Music Reviews Founder
October 28, 2015
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

October 26, 2015

New Age Instrumental Review: Agrelia’s Castle-Elders & Ancestors

Release Date: September 1, 2015
Label: Mysterium Music
My introduction to Agrelia’s Castle was their title track “Elders & Ancestors.” It was featured on Rate The Tracks and made quite an impression on me. When I found out the story behind the music it became even more powerful of an experience for me.

The songs on Elders & Ancestors have grown from the journey of Paul and April Brown together through the challenges of cancer. They come from the desire to create peace, joy, and hope. In that creative experience in music that was the final outcome. I believe many people can benefit from a life’s journey translated through sounds.
The couple combines the sounds of a vintage Fender Rhodes B3, sounds of nature, and beautiful angelic vocals. The vocals are indeed heaven sent from the heart of the giver directly to the recipient. Also there are Native American style flutes, guitars, cello, and sitar. They are very earthy tones and inviting sounds to pull in the listener. In this amazing life it takes the people dealing with the most adversity at times to create exceptional beauty through their artistry. This is a case when those of us more fortunate become grateful and more appreciative for what we have.

“Breathe” is a superbly layered presentation of instruments and vocals. The sitar, percussion and vocals have a mystical element that is simply mesmerizing and comforting. The act that gives life, breathing, takes on an entirely different meaning through this song. Middle Eastern influences permeate the essence of this track and it is like talking a walk through a vast desert of emotion that heals and renews your soul.

“Spirit Dreaming” is another track that just took me away to another place, a safe haven for the heart, body and soul. I feel blessed to have the opportunity for this music to enter my life and give me some solace. Every fear and worry just melts away while listening to this. This particular track features the flute and it gets one in touch with the connection humans have with mother earth and all her wondrous gifts.

Music has always been a spiritual experience for me regardless of the genre. This type of music takes that feeling to another level entirely. Look at the cover of this album and you will get an idea of the places the music can take you. The combinations of what surrounds us in nature and instruments made from the earth becomes one breathing and living entity that invites you in and never lets you go.

I did not want this recording to end as it gave me such peace and contentment, the kind one feels when the stars align and all is right in the world. Enter Agrelia’s Castle and I promise you will never want to leave. The song “Sonnet” delivers a profound message about how life is just time passing by and how it’s just “you and I,” referring to one’s soul mate whether human or one with four legs, it does not matter. I know when I look in my dog’s eyes I see love, purity and the essence of who we are and what we were meant to be. The love of that creature has no bounds or expectations, it’s unconditional. We all can learn a lot from them. 

This music inspires, heals, and creates visions and reminders of who we are or what we can be. The Brown’s have created a masterful presentation of nature and music that is certain to move you in some way and give you a renewed perspective of your existence on this planet.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Elders & Ancestors, Breathe, Spirit Dreaming


1. Elders and Ancestors
2. Adrift
3. Breathe
4. Spirit Dreaming
5. Sonnet
6. Wayfaring Stranger
7. Agrelia's Lullaby

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck- New Age Music Reviews Founder
October 26, 2015
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

October 23, 2015

Featured Track: Blackmore's Night-All Our Yesterdays

The tile track of Blackmore's Night new release is All Our Yesterdays. From his days in Deep Purple and Rainbow to present day, legendary guitarist Richie Blackmore remains a relevant force in music. With his enchanting wife Candice Night on vocals, they present an entertaining mixture of Rock, Celtic, World and New Age Music.

The track and video presented here is a superb representation of their unique music. The song starts sadly then breaks into a gala festival of dance and song.

Enjoy the visuals and music that will take you back to simpler times in our history when castles ruled and there was no technology to complicate lives.

Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck

All Our Yesterdays was released on a variety of formats: CD, CD/DVD and Digital versions on September 18th and in LP and Box Set configurations on October 16th (in North America).

The Band's Bio (Courtesy of their website)


 Ritchie Blackmore

British guitarist and songwriter, began his professional career as a session musician as a member of the instrumental band The Outlaws and as a backing musician of pop singers Glenda Collins, Heinz, Screaming Lord Sutch, Neil Christian, etc.. Blackmore was also one of the original members of Deep Purple, playing jam-style rock music which mixed simple guitar riffs and organ sounds During his solo career, he established neo-classical metal band called Rainbow which fused baroque music influences elements with hard rock. However, Rainbow gradually progressed to catchy pop style hard rock. Blackmore formed the traditional folk rock project Blackmore's Night transitioning to vocalist-centered sounds.Click here to read more about Ritchie.

Candice Night

Although she's done back-up vocals for such major bands as Deep Purple, Rainbow, and Twang (the Hank Marvin Tribute album), Candice Night's success was anything but overnight. In 1997, the talented lyricist and lead singer of Blackmore's Night completed a musical project with legendary guitarist Ritchie Blackmore titled Shadow of the Moon. The album features acoustic renaissance music, a direction she thoroughly enjoyed. "This music is feel good, soul searching music," says Candice. "Listening to it makes me appreciate the beauty in simple things that most of us overlook everyday. It has a magical effect. It makes me smile and it makes me cry, but listening to it always takes me on a different journey somewhere else. Being a part in creating such music is a reward in itself." Click here to read more about Candice.

Bard David of Larchmont

The spine tingling melodies of classical composers wafts through the rehearsal halls as Bard David prepares for his performances. This extremely talented virtuoso has been delighting audiences for the past 20 years on keyboards, piano, organ, harpsichord, accordion and pipe organ. He is a graduate of Purchase University in piano performances and Blackmore's Night is proud to add him to our Minstrel Band.

Lady Kelly DeWinter

Kelly was just a wee babe when she first found herself singing tunes – and it wasn’t long after that she discovered what joy music could truly bring those around her. Classically trained in voice, piano, French Horn, and various other musical instruments, she was clearly drawn to perform - and soon found herself a graduate of the Musical Theatre program at Shenandoah University. Thus far, her professional career has allowed her to perform on stages across the United States, but no indoor theatre ever gave her the same magical feeling as portraying Queen Elizabeth I at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. It was during this time that she truly discovered “All the Fun of the Fayre". She is thrilled to be joining Blackmore’s Night playing French Horn and singing harmony vocals. Lady Kelly says she owes a debt of gratitude to her Renaissance family for introducing her to such a wonderful group.

Troubador of Aberdeen

The percussionist for Blackmore's Night is truly of Scottish descent. His ancestors resided in a castle fortress near Aberdeen during Medieval times. The moonlight beckoned to him and he embarked upon a midnight journey -wandering the countryside, listening to and echoing the rhythms of the night. He spent a lot of time camping in the woods- playing percussion with the otters and badgers- and pitching acorns with the squirrels. Always atune to the rhythms that surround the country side- natural rhythms and sounds of nature abound in his soul, Blackmore's Night came across him in England- we picked him up hitchhiking to London on his way to see the Queen. He instantly felt a comaderaderie with the Band of minstrels and the group invited him to join and share his many talents with them.

Scarlet Fiddler

Our amazing violinist received her MM in violin performance at The Boston Conservatory where she studied with Masters. She has performed at the Amherst Early Music Festival , Oberlin’s Baroque Performance Institute,Trinity Baroque Orchestra and Choir, amongst many other prestigious performances. This Renaissance Fiddler is Concertmaster of the Astoria Symphony and Sinfonia Celestis, and can also be found performing with Greenwich Symphony, Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, Di Capo Opera Company, Bronx Opera Company and the Orchestra of the Bronx. She has graced the stages at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Radio City Music Hall, Town Hall the Apollo Theater and Lincoln Center. She has been seen on tv on “Saturday Night Live,” “David Letterman” and “The View”.

Her heart called out for the simplicity of less technological times - and the beauty of nature. She longed to join a group where she could participate with Medieval/Renassiance music from within the castle walls. She found herself delightfully challenged by the music she heard from Blackmore's Night. We welcome this very talented musician to our group.

Earl Grey of Chimay

Bass, mandolin, guitar. Often enchanted with a musical spirit he can be found performing his music throughout medieval forests and cavernous terrains where they echo the melodic sounds resonating from the instruments played by Earl Grey of Chimay. Assimilating an alchemistic approach to a variety of instruments , he brings to Blackmore's Night his music, camaraderie, a plethora of potent ale, and an extraneous habit of being a bit verbose., yet a dash of humor emanates through the serious facade-but he is always passionate about his love for the music of Blackmore's Night.