February 8, 2017

Instrumental New Age Reviews; Vin Downes-When The Sea Lets Go

Release Date: January 3, 2017
Label: Riverwide Records

Vin Downes presents his own unique brand of acoustic guitar finger picking on When The Sea Lets Go. If you are guitar fan of any flavor or pace there is something to enjoy on this recording.

In my estimation being a talented musician is a god given gift that needs to be shared. And how lucky are we as music fans to be receiving that gift every day. Well, that is if we choose to accept it daily. I certainly do and being one of the more fortunate souls to have an abundance of it at my disposal, and quite a variety no less.

So, where am I going with this? It is artists like Vin Downes that can illustrate the simplicities and complexities of one acoustic instrument in one track. He does it consistently throughout except for “Dust and Drag” where he is accompanied by the sound of Michael Manring’s bass. You know it is him as soon as you hear it. And then there is “Streets of Sunday” where Tom Eaton joins in on the piano.

It was kismet that Vin ended up having the production team of Ackerman and Eaton on his recording. The first time he heard the finger picking style on Ackerman’s Windham Hill Records Sampler (which I used to discover new artists on all the time), he put down the electric guitar. We all benefited from that decision. After hearing When The Sea Lets Go it is quite likely you will agree.

This is scenic and deeply relaxing music that has a rhythmic flow and tone. It is a solid and consistently strong release that puts the spotlight not only on the creator but the style of guitar playing he presents. Vin Downes is a fine representative of this genre of music and style. He has so much respect from the music community and his peers that will be performing at the 2017 ZMR Music Award Concert in New Orleans on May 13th. This is a well-deserved honor and validation of his talent and presence he now commands in the recording industry.

Listening to When The Sea Lets Go is all the proof you will need however the accolades and honors will most certainly keep coming for an innovative and technically astute musician such as Vin Downes. This album is one example of many that you will hear in the years to come and I am willing to bet they all will be progressively different.

4/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
February 8, 2017
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
01. Entwined and Lost
02. Evening in Berkeley
03. Morning Red
04. Dust and Drag
05. Just Before You Go
06. Everything Ahead
07. When the Sea Lets Go
08. Streets of Sunday
09. The Right Words Are Simple
10. All You Left Behind

 

February 4, 2017

Instrumental New Age Review: Jennifer DeFrayne-Sisu

Genre: Instrumental New Age
Release Date: March 3, 2017
Label: Palo Isle Music

Jennifer DeFrayne’s new album Sisu is dedicated to her Finnish heritage. So, what is Sisu you may ask? Well I had the same question with immediate thoughts of what the album title meant.

As defined by Wikipedia: Sisu is a Finnish word which loosely means stoic determination, grit, bravery, resilience and hardiness. It is held by Finns themselves to express their national character. It is generally considered to not have a literal translation into English.

Sisu by my own definition is beauty, grace, strength, and the many colors of life intersecting within each song.

So, with great determination Ms. DeFrayne has released her second collection of tracks titled Sisu. She gets some assistance from the brightest and most talented people in the music business including Jeff Haynes, Premik Russell Tubbs, Michael Manring, Jill Haley, Sara Milonovich, Jeff Pearce, and Jeff Oster. 

There is a lot of instrumental piano based music that I cover hence I have concerns that eventually it will start sounding redundant. That is my biggest challenge not only as a listener but the person that needs to conceptualize and or visualize what the artist is projecting in their music. This music never allowed me to wander off course or feel there was not enough variety to keep me interested or demand my attention.

Jennifer’s music uses her talents with the ivory keys as the foundation of every track and then it is accentuated by other sounds and textures to give it a worldlier crossover feel to it. The title is normally the centerpiece of the table that is set and this album is no exception. “Sisu” is bold yet tasteful like a cup of good strong coffee, the music lingers in the air once it is made and the aroma is still there afterwards. This is good way to explain what this music sounds like and how it will affect you.

Jeff Oster’s horn makes the most beautiful sounds and helps to make the track “Beyond” more exceptional with his contributions. I am sure it would be wonderful with just Jennifer’s key strokes but the addition of that soothing and inviting horn gives it another layer of contrast and beauty. That is but one example of what awaits the listener that wishes to explore and experience thought provoking and relaxing music.

In an artistic sense music is much like a painting in that it speaks to everyone in a different way, and everyone feels and sees something different through their own eyes and soul. Every color splashed on the canvas of the painting holds a different meaning and atmosphere. The picture comes shining brightly through the music in a shout or whisper, dependent on your mood and interpretation.

As my love for music becomes more important with each passing day, I become that much more appreciative of music from albums like Sisu. My respect and gratefulness I feel for people like Jennifer DeFrayne goes beyond words. Listen to the spellbinding sounds of this album and I am sure you will agree this is one recording that will be in regular rotation in your stereo this year.

5/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
February 4, 2017
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
01. Fire Island
02. Be Who You Are
03. Sisu
04. Beyond
05. Gathering
06. Palo Santo
07. Roots
08. Stepping Stones
09. Equanimity
10. Internal Light
11. Renew
12. Perseverance

February 1, 2017

Instrumental New Age/World Review: Al Conti-Mystic

Label: Shadowside Music
Release Date: October 7, 2016 
People that record new age music are a closely-knit family from around the world. If you do not know someone and you are involved in the genre in some fashion, you will come to know them eventually.

With that spirit of fellowship and a common bond, great music is then created.
Late last year, Al Conti released an extremely successful recording. Mystic arrived to the delight of people in the music business and fans alike.

The multitalented Mr. Conti and friends such as Jeff Pearce (electric guitar), Pamela Copus (harps), Charlee Brooks (vocals) and Ricky Kej (associate producer) add their magical talents to the mix.

The compositions feature chant, udu, hurdy gurdy, cittern, lutes, violins, and electric guitars. The cinematic tracks and their multitude of energies and sound sweep you away. Picture the wind that takes away the sands from the desert floor. And in a literal sense, as if you are somewhere in the Middle East taking a musical magic carpet ride through the beginning of time and civilization. Just listen and ride the waves of music that surround you and then you are instantly there.

The opening tittle track “Mystic” is a door opener into a different world and the anticipation of “Ritual” brings thoughts of ancient people paying tribute to their gods and idols as you await a ceremony in your mind’s eye.

If you happen to enjoy consistency in a thematic and musical sense and enjoy listening for those two elements colliding to form beauty, then listen closely.  Mystic will excite you, soothe your soul and take on an adventure of your own design. The music makes all this unfold before you and then your mind, body and spirit indulge it to lead the way, and that it does.

Mystic is more than befitting its name, it is art and poetry in motion. The music cycles through your being and transports you far away from inside your own mind to a different spiritual plane. Music the great healer, is on awesome display on this recording. I loved every minute of it.

5/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
January 30, 2017
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
1. Mystic
2. Trance
3. Prayer
4. Visions
5. Pilgrimage
6. Contemplation
7. Ritual
8. Devotion
9. Anima Aeterna


January 29, 2017

Instrumental Solo Piano Review: Michele McLaughlin-Life

Release Date: February 10, 2017
Label: Michele McLaughlin Music

Michele McLaughlin has been releasing recorded music for 17 years now. Each successive album has reinforced the belief that she is one of the most accomplished solo pianist in world.  The topic of discussion is her latest recording Life. The album is due on February 10, 2017.

Prior to this review we got a sneak peak of what was in store on the Rate The Tracks site streaming  “At Home.” Now it’s time to take a look at the entire offering Life.

Although we put music into a several different classifications and genres, there is some music the defies that thought process. Michele’s music is along those lines. With a combination of new age and classical she lets her fingers glide over the keys with ease. What she produces is significant and stunning. She weaves melodies and progressions of the keyboard like a magician casting a magic spell.

Life is simplistic yet far reaching, crossing over preconceived ideas of what category to put it in. It is contemporary and listenable at any time of day or night. Its ability to reach a listener regardless of tastes is the beauty and perfection of it. I am sure the intent of the artist is to reach a receptive audience and one that allows barriers to disappear knowing the enjoyment and relaxation that awaits.

The therapeutic value of music like this goes beyond just listening. Its straight forward clean production values featuring one instrument, allow a listener or potential listeners, an opportunity to get centered and focus.

The title track is without a doubt, for my ears, the most prolific composition. “Life” does have a certain flow to it- like a raging river, a clear running stream or stagnant pond. Life has its moments and time periods where things are moving at a rapid rate, evolving, changing or slowing down or staying the same. So, the parallel is drawn in the music presented here. Ms. McLaughlin’s soul is mirrored in the music and a listener can view their own truth by listening to it and looking inside. Music is the one thing that has the power to do that for us, it is a gift.

Human Life is complex however everything seems to get more simplified when you hear music like this. I appreciate the artist and the music showing us the way, providing an outlet that brings only peace and joy. I would suggest giving this recording a good listen, your Life will be better because of it.

4.5/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
January 28, 2017

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
01. The Gift
02. The Storm
03.At Home
04. Life
05. Belonging
06. A Deeper Understanding
07. Drifting Through a Dream
08. Heartbroken
09. Stronger
10. Precious Memories
11. Crossroads
12. Guilty Pleasures
13. Give It Time


January 23, 2017

Instrumental New Age Review: Jim Gabriel-Into Eternity

Release Date: November 12, 2016
Label:  Independent

Jim Gabriel has created another musical masterpiece titled Into Eternity.
Jim Gabriel, bearing the name of an angel, creates music that certainly is heavenly.  I believe that music is the greatest gift of mankind and those that create it are the chosen ones to bring it to life. There is no such thing as coincidence in my world, everything has a purpose, place and reason to live on this plane of existence.

Some of us do more than just take up space and accept whatever comes our way and others find their own way and live a focused and fulfilling life. Jim Gabriel is meant to play the piano and bring us joy. And he does exactly that on Into Eternity.

Into Eternity is made up of 12 tracks of gorgeous melodies with the finishing touches of guitar and strings to complete the musical paintings this artist creates. I believe life is a canvas upon which we paint our lives. This is a painting of beauty and grace that gives each listener their own slice of personal heaven.

The one track that got my attention the most, and prolifically, was “Midnight.”  It is his own interpretation of the song originally done by Coldplay on their sixth studio album Ghost Stories. You have the fortune of hearing that on the video provided with this review. For my ears and senses, it got my attention because of the melody and the changes throughout the track. There are moments of elation and then sadness, it was like the range of human emotions all wrapped into one singular purpose within the song. 

That is but one example of that kind of story Mr. Gabriel weaves into each one of the 12 tracks presented on Into Eternity. His talented fingers let the ivory keys do all the talking and your eternity becomes a reality through what he creates. 

I have always expressed that the beauty of music is the ability for each individual listener to decide what to do with it and how they interpret it.  Personally I take the beauty of what is offered and internalize it so it brings me peace and therefore hits that switch in mind that says “OFF.” I hope all of you listeners out there and potentially new listeners, can find your own path through this incredible music like I have.

Into Eternity is perfect just the way it is and that in and of itself is the miracle of music.

5/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
January 23, 2017
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
01. From the Rising of the Sun
02. Home
03. Winter
04. Into Eternity
05. First Light
06. Midnight
07. Un Momento Tenero
08. Americana
09. Goodbye for Now
10. Retrospection II
11. Distant Memories
12. Dreams of You



January 13, 2017

Contemporary: Instrumental New Age Review: Art Patience-The Recognition

Release Date: January 20, 2017
Label: Heart Dance Records


It takes patience and art to make music. The man with the name that combines those two elements, Art Patience, used that formula to create his own unique blend of instrumental music. He accomplishes using the least likely instrument for this style of music.

The debut of this talented man is titled The Recognition. This is not your typical instrumental contemporary new age release. In fact, this music goes beyond anything I would have thought possible for the genre. It is progressive and forward thinking, proving once again that any artist willing to follow their heart can come out the other side of that with a successful work of art.

The harp or harmonica as we know it, is not a lead instrument in the new age genre and rarely has been in any genre for that matter, which makes this release that much more incredible. It is a breath of fresh air with its own spin on relaxation and transporting the listener to another realm.
I do not know about any other listeners but my preference is that music, any music, needs to touch my soul and remove me from inside my head and halt the constant stream of thoughts. It needs to happen quickly so I can go to a place where I get in touch with a higher power and my soul. A deep-seated belief that music can heal and remove any pain both physical and emotional is a thought process that has been a part of my life for many years now. Part of this therapeutic progression is listening intently and relaying what messages it delivers to me and subsequently to any potential listeners. In other words, to encapsulate everything I just said coincides with the title of this album, The Recognition. The equation being how it comes back to you offering a great experience that can be revealing and enlightening at the same time.

What is so wonderful currently is that artists provide all kinds of media for you to enjoy prior to you committing to buying their music to support them and their endeavors. We are living in a renaissance of creation in film and music. It is indeed a great time to be alive regardless of the things happening all over the world. One day there will be peace and unity and the born healers that are leading the way are those that make music like Art Patience.

I know this may sound complex and deep in a sense, it all is, but keep in mind that the process is very simple, hit play and let the music do the rest. This music carries a longing, a certain tenderness and at time sadness. It seeks to find the light within us all. I always thought the harmonica had a quality to it that told a story or was a good accompaniment to a storyline. The combination of the harmonica, guitars, swirling and gyrating ambient sounds from the keyboards and or computer generated mixes make for a modern blend of intrigue and wonder.

All tracks are great but with “Safe Journeys” I found the most interesting qualities bubbling to the surface. It had a mysteriousness about it but it beckoned to me to explore all the layers unfolding in the song and I thought of a train that never stops running on an endless track. It then finally reaches its destination of joy, a happy place, once the song concludes.

“Spirit of the Woods” connects you with mother earth in the most appealing way. Sounds of nature abound with water running down a stream and birds are tweeting. Art serenades the grandest mother of all, our earth and its creatures. The birds sound like they are smiling as they sing. This music will make you beam inside, and as you hold that thought, the feeling of a warm summer day comes to mind and how good that feels from head to toe.

The Recognition is a great achievement and amazing debut that will open the door to many other artists seeking to experiment with new sounds and instruments that will fall into the new age and contemporary instrumental realm of existence. When I first saw this music when it was delivered and saw Art playing harmonica, I had to question if it was indeed new age. Well believe me it is in every sense of the word.

This one is a real pearl so do not miss it.

5/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
January 13, 2017

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
1. Compassion
2. The Wishing Well
3. Memorial Day   
4. Flight of the Butterfly
5. The Treehouse
6. Spirit of the Woods
7. Safe Journeys
8. Winds Of Change
9. The Recognition


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January 9, 2017

New Age-Classical-Electronica Review: Anaya Music With Live Symphony Orchestra-Eternity

Release Date: August 19, 2016
Label: Anaya Music
Anaya Music and the latest release titled Eternity is all about collaboration. Anaya Music is Anaya, Tania Mara Botelho, Steve Salani and members of the Prague Symphony Orchestra. 

I am one of the first to admit you cannot match the experience of being at a concert as to sitting and listening to CD. There are instances in my listening experiences inside the confines of my home that have elevated my spirit and given me positive energy and hope. Eternity turns out to be one of those instances. The parts from the orchestra are live however, so we get the best of both worlds. This is where technology and live off the floor music collide to explode into sights and sounds that will stir your soul.

What I found interesting was how the use of technology made this project come together. Over the oceans these artists added their parts and eventually it became a whole. With the help of many talented people and the sum of its parts scattered about the globe coming together through the advances of communication and modern recording, this became a musical entity. It truly is amazing how all of that works. It is even more of a celebration when it all meets to make the most beautiful and picturesque sounds and colors arriving through your speakers. 

Anaya ends the liner notes by saying “Our best instrument is the universal harmony of being.” That one thought and the vibrations it creates is the perfect lead in to this cinematic recording. The soundscapes shaped and molded are things of beauty and grace that can take your spirit to a higher plain. I do believe that is the intent of music like this. Enlightened spirits leading others down the path of light and love…it works well if you allow the music to transport you as the pressures of the world melt away.

The entire listening experience was so enjoyable and uplifting that I felt disappointed that it ended and it seemed to end much too soon.  From where I sit that is the highest compliment I can pay to any artist.

Eternity is a blessing to all that will hear it so make sure you give it a few spins and find what I found inside the music.

4.5/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
January 9, 2017
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
1. Dharma
2. New Skies
3. Cosmos
4. For Love
5. Love's River
6. Gaia
7. Once in Time