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Held in the Light by Dan Chadburn
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 11/2/2017
A heart felt album, truly to be cherished
Dan Chadburn has to be one of the most unique pianists around today, as soon as he touches the keys you can tell it’s him, he has that ever so defined musical signature it’s just a bliss to behold and be a part of, he is also probably the most sensitive performer of his day, and on Held in the Light, we see that sensitivity roam freely, in the pastures of a meadow of musical gracefulness.
The album starts us on a journey down memory lane, with the old English hymn Breathe on Me, Breath of God. Now bear in mind that Dan is the master of improvisational music, and each and every track has been lovingly created from his heart. This divinely warming piece nurtures us and embraces us with its soft, but happy refrains.
I used to go to church with my parents, not out of choice I have to add, in fact I’m sure that to this date I found great solace in one thing only, listening to my father sing. I can distinctly remember him doing just that on, By Thou My Vision. Dans improvisation of this classic touches my heart and allows me through the years, and past the tears, to see my father’s face, and hear his voice once more through the arrangement of this memorable piece. I thank you Dan Chadburn.
This is Chadburn’s seventh release, and with each album his style and maturity as a performer has grown experientially. On his version of Amazing Grace we can see that in absolute abundance. The sweetness of touch and the loving embrace of the keys are such an important part of who Chadburn is, and on an all-time classic like this, he doesn’t just do it justice, he brings more colour and a little extra intensity to the game, with each note played.
One of my personal favourites was Wondrous Love; the fluency here of Chadburn’s performance was sublime. I felt truly touched by this offering, the use of the minor chords and structures made this a deeply emotive and reflective composition and highlighted Chadburn’s sensitivity and his desire to play from one place only, the heart.
Love Devine has that signature touch of the artist, but also an added layer calm and serenity about its overall construction. There is something so tender about the performance on this delicate offering that has to be truly admired. Chadburn’s unique skill set on piano, gifts us a soothing and charming narrative to simply close our eyes to, and drift away, in love.
As we approach the half way juncture, we come across one of the most stylish pieces off the album called Were You There. This is a very mood filled opus that is so beautifully crafted; you just want to keep hitting the repeat button. The artist’s use of a slight pause now and then adds to the mystery of the overall narrative, and the arrangement itself is so very reflective and profoundly contemplative.
As we take a single step into the latter half off the release Held in the Light by Dan Chadburn, we come across a very gratifying arrangement entitled Lo, How a Rose. This is one that will yet again showcase Chadburn’s skills as a true wizard of improvisation. The simply yet charismatic style here is a pleasure to listen to, a track that will lead you down memory lane, with a loving arm around your shoulder, and performed in such an enchanting manner.
Breath of Life I have read was performed by Chadburn at the studios of Piano Haven, and apparently he requested from the audience that they pick a letter A-G, a flat, natural or sharp, and gave them the choice of minor or major. The following full flowing performance is the result of that moment of inspirational genius on that most magical night, and resulted in an offering that is truly inspired.
It’s unusual for me to write about a song that I sing as part of my Cat Stevens set, but Morning Has Broken seems to have been with me all of my life. I remember singing this at school, it was one of a few traditional pieces I actually enjoyed being a part of. The artist has created a really rich tapestry of tone and colour that is simply delightful here.
Refuge tugs at the heart strings, and implores to be listened to by every fibre of your musical existence. There is a slight classical essence to this composition that increases the depth of the arrangements prowess. I found this track captivating and very moving. Chadburn has manifested a mysterious element of loneliness within this piece, one that is both fascinating and melancholic at the same time.
Our mood is lifted now by the empowering How Great Thou Art. The talent of Chadburn’s creative muse is once more in full flow, and hand in hand they have created something that musically sparkles and vibrates with a shimmering intensity that is so bright. The artist connects to source, the piano speaks, and what comes forth is a symbiosis of tone and splendour.
We have travelled long and far dear constant reader, and the penultimate musical pathway is now in front of us, and the music to usher us along on our way is entitled Beautiful Savior. This rousing and stimulating offering from the interpretational matrix of the artists mind, is both grand and arousing, and played with a smile and a shining confidence.
We now bid a fond farewell to the expertise of Dan Chadburn, but before he leaves this musical realm he has thus far created, the ultimate gift of a breath taking title track is now upon us. Held in the Light is something special, it has a spine tingling vibrancy about its interpretation that is simply beautiful. Love pours from this track, like the tears that fall from an angel’s eyes, into a mirrored pool of adoration; this is my favourite piece off the release.
Held in the Light is a transformational collection of inspired improvisations from master solo pianist Dan Chadburn; it burns with the desire of passion and is played with the energy of affection. Chadburn is a man who performs with a sense of sensitivity that few can match, his gentle and subtle style is a place that fans of solo piano will willingly visit over and again, and Held In the Light, his seventh release, is yet another heart felt album, truly to be cherished.
Rating: Excellent
Lead Me Home by Camille Nelson
- posted by Dyan Garris - New Age CD on 11/2/2017
Lead Me Home
Camille Nelson’s newest release, “Lead Me Home,” is a New Age “crossover,” in that it is not traditionally “New Age,” yet not traditionally classical. It’s different, contemporary, refreshing, and undeniably uplifting to the spirit. That in itself makes it a perfect fit for the “New Age” category, and at the same time, it’s also a perfect fit for the Christian holiday season.
Camille is an accomplished fingerstyle guitarist and violinist specializing in acoustic-driven folk music. She is a gifted musician, hailing from a musical family; her father a violinist and her mother a professional opera singer.
Her brother, Steven Sharp Nelson, of the YouTube sensation, The Piano Guys, is a musical guest on “Lead Me Home,” as well as Ryan Shupe of Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband. Adding harmonic resonance is a small string ensemble, including another of Camille’s brothers, Matthew, plus sister-in-law, Julie, on violin.
“Lead Me Home” is 12 tracks, 45 minutes, consisting of a mix of traditional and original, primarily instrumental hymns. As a Christian myself, I am familiar with, but am not particularly fond of traditional hymns for purposes of listening pleasure. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from this album.
The album is a true and delightful surprise all through, rich in beauty and brimming with unpretentious authenticity. There is not one shred of “preachiness” here. Just love.
The album opens with what is perhaps the most famous and most familiar of all folk hymns, “Amazing Grace.” A rich, flowing, full-bodied, acoustic version, featuring Camille on violin, guitar, and piano, the interpretation is also interspersed now and again with her dreamy, ethereal vocals interwoven throughout. This song nicely sets the table for the rest of the aural feast. We feel a genuine sense of awe, deep peace, connection, and a definite longing for all that comes next.
The first thing that stands out straight away about the entire album, “Lead Me Home,” is the superior production quality. All of the arrangements are outstanding as well. Camille is signed with label, Stone Angel Music, and worked with executive producer Paul Cardall and producer and engineer Trevor Price to create this album. Stone Angel Music is an independent, award-winning record label and premier recording studio in Salt Lake City, Utah. They all obviously did quite a lot of things right in this production, as “Lead Me Home” charted #8 on the Billboard chart.
The stunningly beautiful first track, “Amazing Grace,” is followed appropriately with the also very beautiful, “How Great Thou Art,” another well-known favorite of hymn lovers.
Track 5, “Adelia,” is a lovely, melodic, delicate number, reminiscent of innocence and lullabies. Very relaxing and soothing. And with the exception of the breathtakingly beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace,” it is my favorite track on the album; one I found myself listening to again and again.
A well-known Latter-day Saint hymn, "Come, Come, Ye Saints," is track 8, and features Camille’s brother, Steven Sharp Nelson, “The Cello Guy,” of The Piano Guys. It’s a little heavier feeling hymn, originally penned by William Clayton in the year 1846. However, it’s uplifting in its own way, as it gently and persistently reminds us that no matter where we are, “all is well” as we travel on our journey.
The title track, “Lead Me Home,” track 9, is graceful and elegant and perfectly captures and embodies all of the heart-centered feelings of what “home” ought to be.
Track 10, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” a classic hymn from the 18th century, whose main theme is “divine grace,” is a sweet, flowy, richly textured, and beautifully arranged song featuring the superb artistry of Ryan Shupe on fiddle and mandolin. We can literally feel the grace shining down prolifically upon us.
The final track on the album, track 12, “Count Your Many Blessings,” is like a gentle beam of light reminding us softly that wherever we are or whatever we’re facing, to “let go and let God.” It’s the perfect ending to this lovely album, which is infused throughout with sweet passion, light, and love. Absolutely beautiful in every single note and in every way. Folksy, fresh, and contemporary.
In life, we invariably find ourselves led in various directions. “Lead Me Home” is definitely a direction you’ll want to go in. ~Dyan Garris for New Age CD.com
Rating: Excellent
Between Then and Now by Nick Farr
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 10/25/2017
A breath of musical fresh air
I needed this album, I needed some time to reflect in a chilled environment and this release fitted the bill perfectly. Nick Farr had been on my musical radar for some years now, since the solo piano album A View from Within, back in 2012, so it was a pleasant surprise to hear a multi instrumental album from him, just when my spirits needed lifting.
Between then and Now starts in a most friendly style, with the memorable and light jazz styled ethic of the opening piece entitled Thinking of You. This is one extremely smooth composition and brings us a light happy feeling immediately as we start our musical journey with the artist.
On Late Night Rendezvous we have a truly sensual offering, the brass in this arrangement lays down a romantic, yet heart rendering moment of musical magic. The piano of Farr is the master narrator, which guides us through the waters of love and a late night rendezvous.
I shall have to pass this track onto our Celtic music presenter, I am sure she would love to feature Celtic Shores on her show. The compositions and arrangement of this piece is sublime and gives us a true flavour of the heartlands of the Celts. The strings are a paintbrush of sound that colours the vista with a simple brushstroke of tone. Farr drives forever onward on piano and dances with the violin when needed.
As we arrive at Within Reach, we come across a lush composition that is performed with a certain layer of sensitivity, but an extremely adept overture of professionalism. This is a truly magnificent opus, one that shows the masterful performance of Farr at its very best.
Let’s turn back the clock now and go back to Memphis, 1989. We roll backwards and into the arms of a really smooth and jazzy offering. The gentle nature of this piece gives us an evident sensation of movement, perhaps driving through the city lights, in a nightfall moment, on a warm summer evening in late August.
The percussion and piano introduce us to a piece called Happy Hour, the bass joins the band and we can enjoy a track that perhaps illustrates that we have found the entrance to Cheers bar, and we’re lucky enough to have arrived at Happy Hour. There is simply everything to like about this wonderful feel good piece.
We have passed now into the latter half of the album and come across a personal favourite of mine called A New Beginning. Farr’s skill at musical illustration can never be more evident than here. There is a certain expectation in the performance of a fresh start; the keyboards create an energy that seems to grow with every note played, and the multi instrumentation segments draw us a picture of an increased energy of excitement.
Blackberry Lane sees Farr’s skill set on piano really come to the fore, a picturesque offering is now upon us and with a certain symphonic grace we are gifted something that is truly great in all aspects of the word. The melody also has a slight Celtic lilt to it that demands to be listened to. Blackberry Lane also has that wonderful use of crescendo and a glorious cinematic quality, which would slot nicely into a movie segment with ease, and yes, this is my absolute favourite from the release.
The flute and piano of Farr dance in a symbiotic movement of nature on this most attractive and charming piece called Whip-Poor-Will. There’s a beauty and warmth about this track that create an addictive narrative, perhaps being an ornithologist helps, but this charming composition drew such a wonderful musical vista in my mind’s eye.
I must admit I have walked some of the Trail of Tears, I found it a very sobering and a deeply moving moment in my life, this heinous act should never be forgotten and the pain and suffering that went along with it should never be either. This track emphasises that, but also the proud nature of the true indigenous peoples of Turtle Island. Farr has also most produced a symphony for the ages here in this classic cinematic offering, but you can also hear echoes of the past, created respectfully by a ghostly flute on the horizon.
As we reach the penultimate track we come across an intriguing offering called Snow Soldiers. The percussion draws an obvious narrative, but this is one of those pieces you must listen to all the way through, as the composition hangs in the air, like the sullen clouds of a storm waiting to break, and you never know exactly what is going to happen next. The ability of Nick Farr to produce several movie styled pieces on this album is beyond impressive, Snow Soldiers falls in that category to and should be saluted as a modern day stroke of symphonic genius.
So we arrive at our last musical doorway, and as we push it open we find tucked away in the corner our last offering from the release, it’s called Aurora Green. For me, this was a very clever way to end the album, almost where we started off, and Farr’s jazz piano style floats back into our minds, rounding off what has been a truly superb musical voyage with the artist.
Between Then and Now is an album that adds a colour and depth to the current music scene, one that at times seems to lurch into a banality of receptiveness. This is a musical journey you will never want to end. Farr has created a true album in the sense of the word, one that depicts so many moments in time and illustrates each and every composition with a performance that is simply outstanding. Between Then and Now is one of those releases that everyone should have sitting proudly at the front of their musical collection, it’s a true breath of musical fresh air.
Rating: Excellent
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