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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:
  RJ Lannan's Holiday Music Reviews - 2014, Part 1 by Various Artists, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 12/20/2014
  RJ Lannan's Holiday Music Reviews - 2014, Part 2 by Various Artists, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 12/20/2014
  Tales from the Wine Dark Sea by Tom Caufield, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 12/12/2014
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RJ Lannan's Holiday Music Reviews - 2014, Part 1
By V/A
Christmas & Holiday Music Review for 2014
I do not think I have every wished harder for peace on earth than at this very moment. The world is at war, people are off their axis morally and spiritually, and the deaths of innocents are in the daily news.

When you read this, I pray you light a candle, think of those that are in need, listen to the music and then take some kind of action. Contribute to the "red kettle", volunteer a bit of your time, make a meal for the neighbor, or join me in a silent prayer for harmony in all things. There is so much that needs to be done and...that can be done.

This year I am writing of not only Christmas music but also "winter" music. There is something special and specific about winter music that can only be enjoyed beside a crackling fire, with a mug of spiced cider and maybe that candle I mentioned. I hope you enjoy and as always, I wish you...

Peace – R J Lannan

...all is bright - A Christmas Collection
Aidia Music

If you look it up you will not be surprised that the name Aidia means "gift" and her sweet vocals and piano tunes are just that. Her album ...all is bright is a mere six tracks, but every one of them is melodiously bountiful. The vocals are warm, the piano luscious, and the tunes memorable. Her rendition of O Holy Night is spectacular, but the song There’s Always Tomorrow, from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, is seraphic. One of my favorites is called The Snowbird's Waltz (penned by Kevin Keller). The standout of the album is a version of Carol of the Bells that will give Manheim Steamroller a run for their money. This is going in the collection.
Midwinter’s Night
Independent release

I just found about this brilliant Celtic-based group this year and I am enthralled. Their acoustic melodies are effervescent and energetic, but their original compositions and adaptations are truly amazing. Midwinter's Night features live-recorded acoustic music for the winter months, but the positive spirit is good all year long. The title tune Midwinter’s Night is written by Ritchie Blackmore and Candace Night (Past Times With Good Company) and is a welcoming tune that says "let it snow and let us while away the hours with our favorite companions". South Prairie Rain is a melancholic ballad that had me counting raindrops and expecting it to turn to snow any second. It is has nine more tracks and it is highly recommended.

Dan Chadburn
Whispers in the Falling Snow
Dan Chadburn Music

Dan Chadburn's ten-track album is mostly traditional Christmas music with a definite contemporary piano twist. All our favorites are there, but his piano is magical as he renders his versions of Silent Night, Away in the Manger, and Angels We have Heard on High. His delicate touch and deft composing skills enhance the songs Returning Home, Winter Waltz, and the title tune, Whispers in the Falling Snow. I thought Returning Home the best on the album for its nostalgic strains, but Whispers in the Falling Snow is quite memorable. I liked the whole album.

David Lanz & Kristin Amarie
Forever Christmas
Self Release

What could expect from New Age pianist David Lanz, one of the major founders of the genre? The most dulcet and beautiful Christmas album of the year. And like a gift wrapped most carefully, there is a surprise inside the album in the form of the crystalline voice of Kristin Amarie. David starts out with Winter’s Prelude with his signature composition skills and an angelic chorus. All your wishes come true with the sweet vocal on the title tune, Forever Christmas. Then David adds his "heavy mellow" touch to the ballad Sweet Winter Love as an instrumental, but Kristin does her version with a lovely vocal track. My favorite on the album is Winter Star/. Throughout the melody, I could imagine the blacked out sky, the cold, crisp air, and the twinkling brilliance of every star in the Christmas night sky. But there was one star in particular that caught my mind's eye. I heard the bells in the opening of Silent Night, featuring Kristin's best performance on the album. This album highly recommended.

Jeff Johnson, Brian Dunning & Wendy Goodwin
ARK Music

Music by Johnson & Dunning has never disappointed me ever since I heard their Music of Celtic Legends back in 1997. Since then, their reputation and talents have grown boundlessly. Winterfold, featuring their new partner violinist Wendy Goodwin is a peaceful journey into the frosty winter "aire", but this is one of those albums that bring you peace at any time of the year. I have been playing it for months as a treat to myself. One Last Flower is so gentle it has me floating along with the melody. I imagine the last petal falling from the purple fall asters and the brisk wind that is the culprit. The title tune Winterfold is pensive and the term winsome comes to mind. Wendy’s violin is truly graceful on the tune From the East while Brian Dunning's flute enhances Three Rings. Johnson's delightfully echoing piano closes the album with the song Her Heart Flies. A daily dose of this album highly recommended.

- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 12/20/2014
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