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Rainbow Road by Nancy Shoop-Wu
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 3/30/2017
A classy release
Sometimes I wonder, I ponder an almighty question that perhaps can never be answered, just how much good music is in our world that really should get far more exposure than it does? From my experience in the industry, it’s almost incalculable and the very album I am listening to right now is another example a true hidden gem that I am going to reveal to you right now and allow it to bask in the sunshine of our global musical community.
The album in question, this veritable gem is Rainbow Road by Nancy Shoop-Wu. It’s a release that is beautifully produced, it’s an album that glows with a vast array of musical colour and the performances within this collection of melodic tunes are simply sublime.
The title track, Rainbow Road, is the very first pathway we must tread and is a glorious way to begin the journey, the delicate texture and weave of Shoop-Wu’s violin matched with an ever loving piano, is akin to floating on summer breeze and arriving at a musical blue lagoon of crystal clarity, simply a perfect way to start any album.
Listen to Pulelehua (Mountain Butterfly), Shoop-Wu’s violin softly embraces the moment and brings to us, the ever eager listener, the perfect opening piece, listening to this composition is like arriving at a beautiful holiday destination and contains that wonderful essence called the wow factor.
Our next offering is called Lei Hoku (Star of Love) and what ushers forth is like touching the night velvet of the cosmos itself, the added instrumentation only adds depth and charm to the track. The piano and guitar dance with Shoop-Wu’s violin, with a pristine majesty of the brightest star, in the dark realms of the never ending universe. This has to be one of the most heartfelt and loving pieces off the album.
Sunrise Over Haleiwa is up next, and one can really feel the classical over tones of the artists past coming to her aid here. The creation of such a pictorial piece is masterful, and through its construction you can actually watch the sunrise peak and bustle with the start of a brand new day.
Like the musician, I too live on an Island, however many thousands of miles away in Cyprus, but as I listen to the next piece entitled Always in My Heart, one cannot fail to be impressed with the artists wonderful skill on violin, and with each stroke of the bow, we are drawn in further and further. There is a delightful interplay on this composition between piano, guitar and violin that is very appealing, and thoroughly enjoyable, and from that, a very sweet and emotive rhythm is also created for us to enjoy.
Dear reader, we now arrive at the half way juncture of the album, and come across a self-explanatory track called Lullaby, perfectly performed and played. It would be very easy to go to sleep under the stars on the beach to this one.
The piano serves as the gateway to the next song called Waimanalo and with a very stylish performance on percussion by Garin Poliahu, the artists gifts us a delightful upbeat melody that manifests real warmth through its performance, this is also a composition that builds with a delightful sense of power and descriptive poise too.
One can feel the end of a very long day on this song; it’s called Carry Me Home. This time the musician puts her voice side by side with her violin, as she brings us a track that has some heart felt lyrics and, a soft and sensitive performance on the strings. The very gentle and loving vocal textures will ease us into the darkness of another night, beautifully sung and with a lush Celtic motif in the mix as well.
We now move deeper into the release and come across an offering called Beautiful Mana’o. The soft and calming rhythm here is really stunning, the gentle but very pertinent percussion is sublime, it creates great flow to the piece and partners Shoop-Wu’s violin to perfection. This is one of the most exciting tracks off the album without doubt.
Shoop-Wu excels on this next piece called In Your Eyes, her performance here is so deeply moving, one can almost feel the heart beating within her violin. The artist reaches a wonderful crescendo that pours its loving musical caress’s all over our senses; it would be easy to visualize Nancy Shoop-Wu performing this under the summer stars, on her beautiful island of Hawaii.
Our penultimate composition is entitled Ma’nao Rain, this sensitive but picturesque offering will take us to the last doorway of the album. The flow of this piece is almost waltz-like at times, and as such, it has a delightful sense of warmth about its construction. I guess that sometimes even rain can be a cleansing moment to embrace.
We are indeed about to leave the realm of Nancy Shoop-Wu called Rainbow Road, but before we do, lets receive this last musical gift from the musician, it is called Lele Noa (Flying Free). Now as a guitarist myself, I loved the efforts of Jeff Peterson, who performs on guitar within the last three pieces off the album, the bonus tracks so to speak. Lele Noa is a really fun track and I personally enjoyed it immensely, its lightness and vibrancy was the perfect ending to a fantastic album.
Rainbow Road by Nancy Shoop-Wu is an album that is as fresh as a mountain stream; from time to time the industry needs albums like this to give it a kick in its complacency. She has manifested something very special and very unique and it works wonderfully.
Shoop-Wu’s originality is mixed with a little Celtic and new age ethic, balanced with a hint of classical charm, it is an absolute winner in my eyes, so with that being said, I have no qualms of recommending this very classy new release to you, this is one album you really won’t want to miss out on.
Rating: Excellent
Beyond Cloud Nine by Philip Wesley
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 3/30/2017
A emotional stirring release
Love in its many aspects is an emotive subject on its own to compose an album about and here Philip Wesley doesn’t only do the subject justice, he creates some stunningly beautiful compositions that will make your heart tremble with sheer joy.
From the very opening refrains of “Falling for You” and into the dreamy and gentle “Sweetest Dream”, Wesley’s performance is perfection personified. The artist also creates great movement and colour for us to literally bathe in, listen to “Firefly Light” and be amazed.
There are few who can lay layer upon layer of music so beautifully as Philip Wesley, but on this his eighth album he has raised that veritable musical bar yet again, take some time in the realm of the title track and enjoy the sensation of music from the heavens, Beyond Cloud Nine is not just a beautiful concept, it is a totally charming opus of musical clarity.
As a listener you will have a few delightful sun kissed moments, with memorable short form compositions like “Summer Fields”, “It’s Always Been You” and the sad, but thoughtful, “Reasons for Leaving”. Your exit piece will be the charming “Ripple Across Time”, a track that contains moments of both light and shade.
Beyond Cloud Nine is a collection of 16 extremely passionate and heart felt compositions, it’s an album that has been put together by an artist that plays with sincerity and love. Philip Wesley has manifested an honest and emotionally stirring release that will transfix you with its beauty and quality performances and is utterly recommended.
Rating: Excellent
Urban Metta, Vol. 1 by Anaamaly
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 3/30/2017
A release that speaks volumes
Today this is my sunset album, as I sit and write the glowing orb that radiates warmth around our planet begins to sink and whilst doing so I listen to the deep tones of Urban Metta, Volume 1 by Anaamaly. The concept of this album is set around self-empowerments, truths we must admit to ourselves as co-creators of our own actions within our own universe. Anaamaly has not only done this justice, he has brought a whole new dimension to our front door, in what could be classed as deep meditative music.
The opening offering is called Stand in my Own Power; this is an absolute spiritual truth, a statement of intent that contains a meaningful message. The artist has created a whole new realm of vastness to roam on a musical level and this full flowing starting piece is so rich and full, one cannot deny its energy of musical empowerment through its tones.
You would do well to allow yourself to dive into this world of new age electronica and sample a whole different galaxy of musical mastery, and on the next arrangement you have just that, this one is called I Walk Through Fire, and contains a powerful, yet steady approach, a confident, but dreamy opus of sound that can be found right here.
Our next piece is exactly what I am doing right now, as I write for you, as I create, I Live in the Current Moment. This is a statement of profound importance and the artist has manifested something very grounding to enable us to do so. The waves of a vast ocean lap up to the shore line, but the manner with which they do is rhythmic and calming, he then brings us to this present moment with a subtle but empowering creation of electronic harmony, we can truly feel, watch, be a part of that moment, within the resonance of this quite ambient composition.
We could draw a few comparisons here with artists like Forrest Smithson and Rick Batyr, both employ that deep and full flowing power to their own releases, but Anaamaly seems to have created his very own realm with this cultured release. Listen to I Embrace All Wisdom and explore the tranquil corners of your own deep well of imagination, in what has to be one of the most beautiful pieces off the album.
Now as we approach the half way marker, Anaamaly gifts us something special in the piece I Love Unconditionally. The slight percussive beat adds to the composition, giving it further depth and allowing the electronic waves to pulse around us in a tranquil, yet energising way. The concept of unconditional love seems to be such a hard concept for some to understand, but maybe through this composition Anaamaly has made that just a little easier for us to grasp.
As we drift on the wings of intent into the second half of the album, we come across an almost old school styled new age piece called I am Grateful For…, the rest is for you to fill in the blanks and while you’re thinking on that, allow this angelic creation to aid that process of thought. Here is a composition, that has a real light construction and feel to its overall ambience, and is perfectly placed, at just over the half-way point of the release.
The next one made me smile, I mean I had to, I have taken life far too seriously from time to time, so the track, I Am Lighthearted resonated with me, and yes, made me smile, partly at myself and partly at the lessons now learnt. This is also profound, as the composition itself does have a playfulness about it that is appealing, but at all times retains its meditative ambience.
On, I Am Perfect Either Way, we have a confident and strong arrangement that seems to literally and musically stand tall and grow through its five plus minutes, a piece of realization perhaps? The light natural sounds through this offering were so well placed and not distracting, if anything they added a layer of grounding, to what is a very sensitive and delicate creation.
I mentioned earlier that the sun is sinking here fast, and I can now see its golden glow across the ocean, and speaking of that vast water filled dimension, we can enjoy that right here with this composition, as once more the artist creates a piece that is filled with the nurturing element of emotion. On I Am Awakened there is a real deep sense of renewal built into the track, the resonance and swirling keyboards manifest a composition of wisdom and power combined.
Our last but one, our penultimate piece from Anaamaly, gives is a moment of awareness so profound, that its statement must not be over looked; it’s called I Am Surrounded by Abundance. Once more our master craftsman, our sonic painter of musical delights, has brought us into a reality of a composition that seems to expand whilst listening to it. I enjoyed the experience of this piece, I enjoyed the energy of a track that builds beautifully and sustains its prowess along the way.
We now drift into the last doorway of the album with a composition called I Am Healed on All Levels. To leave an album with such a subtle and carefully crafted arrangement is simply stunning, here we have a track that almost retains a slight chill-out ethic, which is no real surprise given the back ground of the artists other persona, but a piece that does manifest a level of acceptance through music and a simply blissful way to leave the release.
Urban Metta, Volume 1 is one of those releases you could easily over look thinking its just another new age music release. I urge you to wipe that thought completely from your mind, this is an album created from truth and unconditional love; here is a release that speaks volumes and manifests vast realms for us the listener to roam at our leisure. Urban Metta, Volume 1 by Anaamaly, may well be the forerunner of the next generation of new age electronica styled releases, and as such you really would be remiss to not add this album to your collection as soon as you can.
Rating: Excellent
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