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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
Other reviews from The Sounding Board by R J Lannan:
  Autumn Reflections by Ken Verheecke, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 10/17/2014
  Sky Watching by Merrill Collins, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 10/17/2014
  Life Under Stars by Carl Weingarten, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 10/17/2014
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Autumn Reflections
By Ken Verheecke
Label: Heartcall Music
Autumn Reflections tracks
1. Cheyenne Crossing
2. While Aubrey Sleeps
3. In The Morning
4. Amy's Sweet Spirit
5. Bridal Veil Falls
6. Falling Leaves
7. Spearfish Canyon
8. Indian Summer
9. Roughlock Falls
10. Autumn Reflections
Season Fare
South Dakota is a stark land full of contrasts. Natural wonders such as plains, prairies, rushing waters, craggy hills, and extensive caves vie for attention along with Mash Potato wrestling, the Corn Palace and the Flaming Fountain. It is also the home of an extraordinary guitarist named Ken Verheecke. As the poplar tree leaves take on their first coating of yellow in the hills of the Smokey Mountains where I live, I am listening to his appropriately titled release called Autumn Reflections. His calming, contemporary guitar pieces are the perfect musical harbinger to a season that I love the most. It is a time when Mother Nature winds down a bit in preparation of her winter sleep and offers some of her most colorful and awe-inspiring displays just like Ken's beautiful ballads.

Ken Verheecke has a bio about two sentences long. He's from South Dakota, he was inspired by Will Ackerman, and he loves contemporary music and he is a man of great faith. When you hear Ken’'s wondrous ten-track album, his past will be of little consequence. What you really want to know is where is he heading next and can I get a ticket.

Autumn Reflections' theme is the changing season, the cooling breezes, and the colors that delight the eyes. It is golden trees, lazy afternoons and a place where even time takes a vacation. Just about a dozen miles out of Deadwood nestled in the Black Hills is sleepy Cheyenne Crossing. It is fork in the road that can take you just about anywhere and Ken's song Cheyenne Crossing is your guide. The music is bright and hopeful. It suggests that just around the curve is the place you have been looking for.

In The Morning is slow and peaceful. It is the sound of the amber sun peeking out over the hills, hinting at the warmth to come. It is the call of the magpies as they flitter to the gatepost and the crystal tears of morning dew that drop from the goldenrod. The calming melody shuns alarm clocks, keeps the coffee hot, and promises a wonderful day ahead. Soon the shadows will have their way.

There's a miracle in the next room. At least that is the sense I get when I listen to While Aubrey Sleeps. The tune is not just a simple lullaby, but also a complex suite of polyphonic guitar voices. Sometimes you are so happy or so grateful or so in love that you don’t know what to do with yourself. Ken puts his heart on his sleeve and lets it flow into his fingertips.

One of my favorites on the album is called Falling Leaves. Ken's tune hints at just a breath of wind, a dry, sunny day, and the migration of tawny sun catchers that know when their time is up. I can almost imagine the slow spiral of the leaves, some of them quite ambivalent, gliding solo. And others, giving in to the fate, and falling like rain.

Ken's rendition of Indian Summer has all the warmth you would ever need on an October day. It is a celebration of just one more trip to the lake, one more hike up to hills in search of gold nuggets the size of a BB or arrowheads made by a Native craftsman. It is the pleasure of a fire just at twilight and the few lost fireflies finding their way. It is the glimmer of a million stars in the sky that remind you how big your world really is.

The recording close with the title tune, Autumn Reflections. As I write this, the wind is stirring in the trees, the air is cooling off, and Mother Nature is teasing me with a blush of color on the foothills. Luckily, I now have Ken Verheecke's placid fantasia to remind me about the days that lose their light to a change in the tilt of the earth, the landscape that transforms on a daily basis and the coming of another winter. I have come to a point in my life where I measure time in not hours or days or months, but in seasons. Thanks to Ken, I know I always have wondrous music to keep me company during my favorite time.
Rating: Very Good   Very Good
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 10/17/2014
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