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Moorland Winds by Sarah Copus
- posted by Gail Roberts - Ceili Magazine on 7/4/2017
Stunning in its beauty and polish!
Sarah Copus is a local treasure, only 13 years old but with a resume many adult musicians would envy. She has had two albums hit the Billboard Charts and won Best Vocal Album Award from Zone Music Reporter Awards Show in 2015. Just this year, Sarah was a featured performer at the 2017 North Texas Irish Festival and has performed with internationally acclaimed groups such as Celtic Woman, The Irish Tenors and Celtic Thunder. Her musical skills include singing and playing the harp, violin, piano and ukulele.

Moorland Winds is her latest release and it is stunning in its beauty and polish. It’s a perfect showcase for both her talent as a harpist and her lovely singing voice. On several songs, she performs in both Gaelic and English, bringing an authenticity to traditional Irish tunes.

Beginning with the haunting Wind on the Moor, the ethereal melody of the harp transports the listener to a windswept moor, borne by her angelic rendition of Gaelic song of longing. The sweet sadness of remembering long ago love also comes through softly in her rendition of Fields of Gold.

Gleanntáin Ghlas’ Ghaoth Dobhair was made for Sarah’s haunting harp and delicate Gaelic voice. It really showcases her mastery of the instrument, conveying much emotion in her song. Lest you think this album is all delicacy and lightness, she captures the traditional spirit of festive dancing in Rights of Man/Off to California and Merrily Kiss the Quaker/The Mist Covered Mountain, as well as several other traditional songs.

Her arrangement of the classic Foggy Dew was not the usual aggressive almost martial sound one usually hears, but a thoughtful, melancholy lament of lost youth and lives given in search of freedom.

One of my favorites on this album was Walking in the Air. It’s mystical and magical and so exquisite. I could listen to this song over and over. Close your eyes, listen and you will be walking in the air and floating in the midnight sky along with Sarah.

For the ultimate enjoyment of the nuances and delicacy that a talented harpist can achieve, the haunting beauty of Dawning of the Day makes me appreciate the emotional impact of the instrument that is the ultimate symbol of Ireland – the harp.

The sound mixing in this album was pitch perfect and her arrangements suited both her voice and her instrument. It’s an excellent production and a pleasure to listen to.

Sarah’s skill at such a young age makes me excited to think of what a wonderful future she has ahead of herself making music. I look for her to be a Headliner at the North Texas Irish Festival in not too many years!
Rating: Excellent
All About Love: Music from the Heart by Ban Brothers
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 7/3/2017
A fine example of good quality world music
To kick off todays writing spree, I come across an album of global appeal, by the Ban Brothers, called All About Love. The title is apt, as it truly reflects just what the entire album is about, love in all its aspects.
This world, global fusion of Bollywood, and east meets west, is both colourful and inspiring, and contains a really beautiful production to its overall manifestation. The opening piece is called Bitee Huyee and is sung with such a smooth, soft gentle voice.
The influence of master music producer Ricky Kej is very evident on the album, and it’s great to hear and feel. On the next piece called Panchhee Banke we have some wonderful movement with the added percussion and strings in the mix, and the tempo is raised just that much, that this composition becomes fun and addictive to listen to, the female vocals of Supriya Joshi is simply stunning here.
These real life brothers in Gautam Banerjee and Swagata "Ban" Banerjee have really created something very special here, and on Tumi Bhorer Paakhi, a male song, we have a composition that has a delightful sense of mystery crafted into its weave and the vocals of Debasish Shome are a great narrator within it, this his sole appearance on the album.
The longest piece on, All About Love is called Jeevan Kee Nadiyaa and at well over six minutes, gives us the opportunity to explore the vast array of musical instrumentation used and once more, the imploring vocals of singer Supriya Joshi are incredible in bringing a track that has a real depth and weight to its construction.
Warm sounds of summer, birds and natural sounds, give us a real outdoors feel to the next song called Aaj Tum Tere. There is a smooth flowing tempo here; some delicate piano and a creative use of strings that is very appealing to listen to. The delivery of some very harmonic vocals is provided by the stylish Prajoth D'sa, in what is truly a lively, but controlled arrangement.
One of my personal favourites from the album was the symphonic offering called Chupi Chupi. The ever attractive singing of Supriya Joshi can be found at its best on this track, and we must also congratulate Debasish (Babu) Shome for his masterful whistling on this fantastic song, listen also to a very creative bass here on this piece.
As a guitarist, I really appreciated the opening of Dil Se Dil, a lively song this one with some wonderful acoustic work contained within, it also had a little 1960’s movie style in its construction, but that’s my western point of view, and also may have something to do with the very addictive and memorable orchestration in the song itself.
However full marks must go to the penultimate track off the album and a thoroughly outstanding song too, called Tumi Bhorer Paakhi. This for me had everything, a careful build, a sensual tempo and of course, the perfect response to the male version earlier, on track three.
Our last musical gift from the Ban Brothers is called Hum Se Zamaanaa and starts with an almost western dance or trance styled ethic, also incorporating a mix of electronica from the 80’s into its overall build, a lively and upbeat way to leave the release.
All about Love is a clever and well produced album, about the only subject in the world that really means anything, love. They have brilliantly produced a release which I feel may well catch the hearts and minds of western ears.
I must also state that it’s rare these days to find good quality artwork on albums, and it is so very refreshing to see an original piece created by artist Aniruddha Mukherjee for this release, it certainly raises the profile of the project splendidly. As they enjoy a roam along the corridors of music from Eastern culture, All About Love is a fine example of good quality world music, with its modern style and its crafted compositions, this could very well be the album that opens up a whole new realm of music to your ever eager ears, go on and give it a spin.
Rating: Excellent
Songs of Hope by David Wells
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 6/30/2017
Sparkles and flows with an ecstatic energy
The smooth tones of a David Wells piano album is calming my mind this beautiful sunny morning and Songs of Hope is a bright and light filled collection of compositions that would lift anyone’s day.
Selah starts us off on yet another beautiful journey through music and a real shining star of a composition can be found on this opener. The flow of this powerful and firm composition is quite breath-taking to listen to.
On Summers End we have a wonderfully crafted arrangement that has a real early September feel to it, that moment when the sun no longer feels so warm and a sense of autumn drifts in the air. The performance here was one of my favourites from the album. Wells paints musically with great colour and clarity, but there is a stunning sense of warmth here that is also carefully underpinned with an essence of change as well.
The perfect track to follow the preceding one is up next and called Falling Leaves. The gentle but very fluent start gives us a really clear image of a mid-October day and leaves being blown to and fro in the wind. This track has an amazing sense of energy and movement about it, and the alternation between light and dark creates a wonderful musical narrative for us to all enjoy.
From summer, to autumn we now find ourselves firmly in the land of winter, the ice cold tendrils of a January day are all around us. Wells plays with a passion warm enough to melt the ice on any winter’s afternoon, but the stream and intent here is almost magical. Again this composition is another that I would class as a personal favourite, the performance here by the artist is simply stunning and at times emotional, but also inspiring. Winter’s Chill is one of those pieces that you would love to hear and see played live.
Now at the mid-way point our sun has slowly departed from its day’s work and as each star brightens the darkening sky and we can listen to Nocturne. At well over 5 minutes, this is also the longest track off the release, one that gives us all time to reflect on the day, whilst enjoying the night wrap its comforting cloak around us. The composition itself is also quite fascinating and changes tempo and energy as it explores the movements and memories of the day just lived, it is almost like you are reviewing that moment through the tones of this extremely classy song.
We can all count our many Blessings and David Wells has created a track to recognise that, there is something very familiar about the melody, but the lightness of style and free flowing nature of the artist’s performance on this piece makes it blissful to bathe within.
As we move deeper into this musical reality created by David Wells we have a really clever track called Hands of Time. Like time, there is a relentless sense about this arrangement, but this is one of those pieces that you will really need to listen to very carefully, as you may well miss a few familiar nuances if you don’t. Hands of Time also has a little cinematic quality about its creation as well; it’s definitely one that you will go back to time and time again!
Interestingly enough we still have a few more moments on the clock to explore within the next offering called Time Away. Although through this composition we seem to have found a little sanctuary away from the tick and tock of the clock, Well’s confident and creative arrangement brings a little crack of warm light into the dusty room of father times aged residence.
The empowering Hymn of Peace and Joy is up next, however Well’s has and uses an amazing and refreshing methodology of performance here, the song almost seems to create itself within its own inspiring patterns and uplifting tones. If you were expecting to be bathed in solemnity, you may have forgotten the joy part, a very unique and restorative track indeed.
We now arrive at the last gateway of the release, but before we leave this journey with David Wells and Songs of Hope, the musician would like to gift us one more piece to go on our way with and it is entitled Travelling Light. Wells performs another barnstorming offering here, but also balances the piece out with some delightful calming segments in the track, the perfect climax to our musical sojourn.
Songs of Hope by David Wells sparkles and flows with an ecstatic energy that is hard to deny, the passion in performance is unrivaled with its stunning confidence and professionalism and I am totally convinced that fans of the solo piano genre will find this album pretty hard to put down.
Rating: Excellent
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