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Reaching 12 by Faith Angelina
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 11/2/2017
A deeply emotive album
Faith Angelina may be the youngest person we have ever interviewed so far, but she has a story to tell, that many three times her age will not have encountered. This however has given her a unique perspective on life and from that over-view; it has matured into a sense of music that has become a sanctuary of tranquillity and a place of creation.
The story itself is well documented in the interview that we did with her, but here and right now, Faith Angelina takes us on a personal journey through her debut album and we start at the very first open window entitled, Run with the Wind. As a 16 year old child this is exactly what I wanted to do myself, my life was out of control and all I wanted to do was run as fast as I could into the only thing that had never let me down, nature. I feel the same energy in this piece, there is a certain tempo set here by the repeating motif and a colourful melody of freedom attached, and one compliments the other with ease.
I found Sunday Morning Rain a real memory jerker, Sundays as a child for me were always bitter sweet and through the tones and incredible fluency of performance one could with ease see the artist sitting by the window, watching the trickling water fall like tears from the grey skies above.
On Easter Lilies we have a piece that contains a gentle narrative, its short form structure supports a really light essence and the really crafted performance here is a treat to listen to.
The next track has a really tentative nature about its composition; Finding Hope has more than one dimension to it, it’s myriad of musical doorways to open, and a pathway of tone of an imploring nature can be found here. The smooth yet empowering performance here is quite breath taking, so much so that I have now listened to this piece four times and still I find more to enjoy.
Our journey with Faith nears the middle part of this exploration of musical awareness, and as we do so we come across a really dramatic composition called Lost. There is a darkness that sometimes we don’t notice and when it wraps its cloak around us, we simply get lost in its web, but there is hope. This powerful and moving arrangement has something truly special, its narrative is evident, but the fluid melodic structure reminds me of early David Lanz.
Seasons is our half way marker and as we take a break we can listen to the artist create a memorable offering that seems to span all four nature changes on our world. Listen for the change in style and tempo around the one minute twenty second mark that shifts up a gear and manifests a subtle movement in time and then slows back down in a shifting and repeating pattern which is completely addictive to listen to.
I had heard this track the other day on the radio and was extremely impressed; it’s called Eye of the Storm. Faith Angelina has created something here that is not only redolent of a storm, but of standing right in the middle of one, that eerie sense of quietness, and that very obvious reality that at some stage all hell is going to break lose. This is without doubt one of my favourite pieces from the release. Its extreme graphic nature is a pleasure to enjoy, and be a willing part of.
We now move to a track called Abuelita. Now I believe translated this means Grandmother, or little Grandmother. Regardless, this is a piece that has a real warmth to it, one that welcomes you in and offers you a glowing drink, that will bring comfort and happiness to you when you’re not at your best. For me this is what I would term as a real feel good track.
Once more the fluidity of performance shines for Faith Angelina on this next opus called Chasing Rainbows. The tempo and repeating motif gives us a sense of movement, but there is also a wonderful sense of colour and light here as well that can be enjoyed. This has to be one, if not, the most picturesque arrangements on the album.
This musical journey has been a real cathartic voyage for the musician and on Sunny Days she continues to explore that theme further. Just as I started writing about this piece, a sunbeam burst in through my studio window, perfect timing on a composition that contains an ounce of sunshine with every lovely note played.
Our penultimate piece is called Saying Good-Bye, this has to be a fine example of what we’re about to hear over the months and years ahead from Faith Angelina. I adored this track; it has become a real favourite of mine, the melody and over all composition reminded me in performance of Elton John, with its driving narrative and use of minor and major chords. The slight break towards the end was clever and well crafted, allowing a change to occur; this was stunning and reminded me of the work of Doug Hammer on his album Heart. This has to be the finest work from her to date, and one track I wished would never end, but like everything, we have to say goodbye to it all at some stage.
Our last offering is called Twelve, now while I struggle to remember back that far, what I do remember, is that this was one of the most difficult times of my life back then, leaving the child behind, as the teenager emerges and young adult hood comes knocking on the door of life. This offering pretty much sums up that feeling and shows the change occurring, the interplay of child hood and adult hood in music is perfectly illustrated here.
Reaching 12 is a remarkable collection of empowering and moving works from a musician so young, yet so talented, one can only dare to imagine what wondrous opuses will flow from her hands, with a few more years on the clock. Reaching 12 is an album that fans of solo piano will lap up; it contains all the right ingredients to reach dizzying heights in the charts, and will carry the listener on a deeply emotive and honest musical journey, perhaps even one that may as cathartic, as well as entertaining for them as too.
Rating: Excellent
Year's End by Matt Marshak
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 11/2/2017
An album that creates peace and serenity
Is there a better time to chill? Im sitting by my studio window, gazing out on an almost perfect autumn day, the sun is creating the most beautiful shadows you could possibly imagine, and November is a plethora of light and colour, the accompaniment to this reverie is Matt Marshak’s release Year’s End.
From the very opening I felt refreshed and relaxed, as the refrains of Peace and Joy washed over me. The quite blissful performance on guitar here made this the perfect opening foray, into a new voyage of acoustic guitar based music.
Thanksgiving Day is another fine example of the warmth that Marshak creates with his guitar, from each note played, the artist draws us a homely picture of gratitude and hope, the slight change of tempo now and then, only adds to the lush quality of the composition.
I used to adore taking a walk in the forest, now with the track Walk in the Forest I have the best soundtrack ever for these perambulations of the mind. The depth of performance here is really creative and very enticing; one can truly feel like they are walking through a sun dappled forest, on the edge of time itself.
We now go short form on the piece Great People, although only around two and a half minutes in length, Marshak has created a complex, yet light hearted narrative in the arrangement, one that is both appealing and rhythmic.
Winter is a whole new ball game living in Cyprus; we have abundant sun and a good deal of warmth, unlike the days in the west, the cold of the Winter’s Day always made a harsh landscape harder to deal with. Marshak on this composition creates a slow, but not a sombre piece, one that warms the hands, fingers and toes, a veritable piece to sit by the window and watch the snowflakes fall.
I applaud the artist for this piece, as musically we have attained balance. The Light of Spring is something to revel in, the artistic skill on creating the narrative here is sublime and the spring we seem to be exploring is an early one, the careful and sensitive guitar really draws a tentative vista of early March brilliantly.
Once more the professionalism of Matt Marshak comes to the fore with the middle segment called Leave Your Worries. We arrive at this juncture with a fairly upbeat arrangement, one that helps across the borderlands of the album with a stylish ease.
Deep Within was one of my favourites pieces off the album, as a guitarist myself I love to use minor chord’s and draw a slow and mood filled atmosphere into reality with my performance. Marshak does that to perfection right here on this track Deep Within, a composition that wends its way around each musical bend with a caring and tentative step, in what is a truly clever arrangement.
The soothing Rest My Child is up next, a perfect night time song, or one to calm the furrowed brow after a bad dream, the childlike resonance here is gentle and so relevant, so settle down your sleep head, it’s getting late the sandman said, your dreams are waiting.
The intriguing This Old Barn is up next, the finger picking style here reminded me for a moment of Bob Ardern. The guitar seems to be almost telling us a tale of this location with each strum and pick. I found this composition the most fascinating off the album.
We now move ever onwards and come across a remarkable piece called Echo. I had to play this particular offering a few times and noted that each time I did, I found something in it I had missed. The narrative here is wonderfully crafted, giving us a feeling of an inner reflection occurring within tone and mind, a superbly performed and skilful opus of sound and soul can be found here.
This very piece featured on my Reconnections show, a broadcast bringing the very best of acoustic guitar based music to the planet. That track is the aptly titled Harvest Song. The artist once more becomes the painter of tone and harmony; he uses his musical palette to show a golden autumn sunset and a job in the fields well done for another year. This piece oozes absolute class from every pore of its existence.
Our penultimate offering is based on a subject matter that is so very close to my heart and called Along This River. The subject matter is so dear to me and now this piece is as well, it depicts with ease a wonderfully sunny autumn afternoon and a gentle walk by a beautiful slow moving river of dreams.
So we arrive at the last window to the album, but before we sneak in and close the latch behind us, let’s just listen to this very last offering from Matt Marshak called Baby’s First Snowfall. The final parting of the ways, but music for a new beginning and a memorable occasion, a very clever way indeed to end this blissful musical sojourn.
If you ever wanted an album to turn off the stress and ease the mind and body back into a far more chilled resonance, then Year’s End is the perfect panacea to cure all ills. Marshak’s sublime skill on guitar will bring you a heavenly landscape of harmonious pitch and ambience. Year’s End is an album that everyone should have if they wish to create an atmosphere of peace and serenity, as the year draws to a close.
Rating: Excellent
Ascend by Christine Brown
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 11/2/2017
Let this album touch your heart
The solo piano skills of Christine Brown are now officially laid before me to peruse, and today I am grateful for this musical interlude of quality and tone, as autumn furthers its cloak upon our landscape, the arrangements contained within brightened my soul somewhat.
We start our ascendance with the opening piece, and here sits, in a proud stance, the very title header itself, Ascend. This is a composition of a flowing energy and intent, the fluency of performance really draws us a wonderful musical vista with which to roam freely within, what a sublimely charming beginning.
A passionate piece swirls around us now, with the arrival of the heartfelt and very imploring Love’s Legacy. The power and intensity of this offering is incredibly poignant, both sad and stirring at the same time. Brown has really captured the true legacy of love, an emotion that is sometimes so very hard to deal with, but all encompassing.
The light and sparkling Magic Carpet is now upon us; however this is not an offering to be taken too lightly, as the artist has also created a wonderful sense of movement here that is compelling and commanding in its presence. This formidable piece oozes absolute class all the way.
There was something so very calming about Gravity, the gentle performance seemed to allow us to flow with time and tune, the repetitive nuances were delightfully arranged, and I found myself listening with awe and a tear in my eye to this one, each time I hit repeat, and yes, you have guessed it, this was indeed one of my favourites from the release. Browns performance here was both magical and emotive, in the sense that the music allowed me to let go of earth based burdens, and just float in peace.
On Closer, we have a track of a different colour; a far slower tempo is gifted to us, almost classical in a Debussy way, but once more again we will be entranced by the beautiful stylish implementation of the presentation here. This was another that really resonated with me, the narrative of Browns composition drew me in with the subtle notion of movement contained within.
As we approach the half way point of the album, the preceding offering stands before us and is called, Forest for the Trees. There is a sense of confusion in this piece for me, the passion of performance is indeed potent, but there is also a feeling of many weighty decisions to be made. Once more the artist story telling skills as a pianist grow with each passing composition.
We can now take one tentative step across the borderlands of the half way marker of the album, with the piece Ivory Wings. Browns subtleties are really on view here, it is as if we are listening to something growing and shining whilst doing so, on this perfect midway point composition.
So we begin another musical sojourn, this time hand in hand with a track called Lotus Breeze. There was a strange familiarity about this one, perhaps the resonance of the arrangement spoke to me, but however, this is just yet another example of a fine performance, and an excellently written piece, one that has lightness about its overall energy, as we drift in a musical stream of brilliance.
Floating Colors is one of those pieces that you never want to end, by the time I had reached this part of the album, I was convinced that this was easily the best work I had heard from the artist, the album is so stunning and full flowing, and this track is a fine example of that brightness and timeless fluency.
Christine Brown now creates a musical narrative to enable us to literally Soar. The graceful approach on this piece is well received, and the effortlessness of the composition is very enjoyable to drift along with, the subtle shifts of tempo and movement are wonderfully crafted here.
Cherish sees the artist showing her sensitive nature in the creation of a really heart-warming opus, this is a piece that almost nurtures you along the way. This is a feel good composition that has that warm caress of tone, to manifest a realm of musical sanctuary, to utterly cherish in an embrace of truth and honesty.
We have now arrived at the door of a short form offering entitled The Departure. Despite being just shy of three minutes long, this is a very clever arrangement and in its petite narrative, manifests a whole raft of emotions, but leaves us emboldened.
Our penultimate track is the very attractive title of Amethyst Sky. As a writer and musician I love watching the patterns of light, shade, and colour form in the sky, this great global theatre above us that most take for granted, one that sometimes offers up such breath taking vistas and this offering is probably the sound track to that moment of magic.
Our last port of call is called Safe and Sound, this is simply idyllic, Brown has created here a final parting gift for us to revel in, with that homely feeling of safety and security, it is the final offering of the day, as the light goes down, and night swoons its sleep filled intent over our minds, now we can just float in total bliss and harmony.
Christine Brown must be proud of this latest offering, and in my view this is her best work so far. The melodies were fresh, but very memorable; each composition was played with a total passion, but with such a confidence that we felt completely captivated, with what has to be her best performance so far. Browns skills and musical story telling here have jumped tenfold, her care and attention to detail whilst creating such incredibly powerful and moving pieces, should not, and will not go unnoticed. Ascend is an album that truly touched my musical soul, and I hope it will yours too.
Rating: Excellent
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