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Awaken Me by Kimberly Haynes
- posted by Gena on 8/24/2016

Kimberly Haynes is a music medicine woman who sings her original songs to help the listener heal, enter a place of devotion, grow within, find the right love, become courageous and explore their destiny. Her stunning soprano voice floats over a background of gentle world-fusion instrumentation. This is universal easy-to-relate-to new age music with broad appeal to listeners who enjoy new age vocals, world-fusion sounds or folk-pop sensibilities.

Haynes writes new age-style lyrics that explore what she has learned about life as she has sought sacredness, personal growth and methods of healing body and spirit. She sings those words using a wonderful voice that is clear, pure, strong and soothing. A bit reminiscent of Sarah McLachlan and other top folk-pop vocalists over the past few decades, Haynes becomes distinctive due to her lyrical substance and the excellent world-tinged instrumental backing led by multi-instrumentalist and recording artist David Vito Gregoli.

There are many treats -- a banjo here and a mandolin there, lots of wood flutes, guest appearances by Peter Kater and Al Jewer & Andy Mitran, sounds of India with sitar and tabla, a little dulcimer or didgeridoo mixed in, and lots of assorted guitars. This is a strong debut and is highly recommended for listeners who enjoy new age vocalists, especially with some world elements blended in.
Rating: Excellent
Ghost Stations by Marconi Union
- posted by Gena on 8/24/2016

GHOST STATIONS is the ninth studio album by UK-based ambient-music-masters Marconi Union and the recording combines many aspects of their classic electronic sound with some new musical elements (ambient trumpet and clarinet) that take the music in exciting and unexpected directions (including unusual rhythmic elements).

The album is comprised of four long tunes (ten-minutes to 14-and-a-half in length). The music moves from achingly-slow-and-atmospheric to moody, from intense industrial to sparse-and-spacey, from soundtrack-mode to rhythmically vibrant. Some of the sounds are designed to spotlight the theme of the album -- dreaming about abandoned and derelict ghostly train and subway stations, with the secondary allusion to radio signals floating in our atmosphere but only heard under special circumstances. Regardless, the music definitely will stimulate your imagination.

This acclaimed group is considered one of the top ambient music acts in the world, but they also have appeal in the new age, jazz, chill, electronica and avant-garde genres. GHOST STATIONS is a masterpiece of the ambient genre, pushing this kind of music into new territories and unspooling visual images in your mind that you undoubtedly did not even know were in there.
Rating: Excellent
Awaken Me by Kimberly Haynes
- posted by Candice Michelle on 8/23/2016
Awaken Me by Kimberly Haynes
Kimberly Haynes is a singer and songwriter whose debut album, “Awaken Me” (subtitled "Songs from the Heart of a Seeker"), invites the listener on a soulful journey of discovering the sacred space within and creating a conscious connection with spirit. Co-produced by recording artist and multi-instrumentalist, David Vito Gregoli, the talented virtuoso plays many instruments on this album – including acoustic and electric guitars, South American charango, bass, mandolin, sitar, banjo, piano, synthesizer, udu, drums, percussion, bells, Native American and world flutes, Gopichand and kalimba. An impressive line-up of contributing artists also includes pianist Peter Kater, vocalists Tina Malia and Aeone, Native American flute player Al Jewer, accordionist Andy Mitran and percussionist Byron Metcalf among a handful of others – who additionally lend instruments such as violin, tabla, dulcimer, didgeridoo and hang-drum. Kimberly provides both lead and backing vocals on the album’s eleven compositions – drawing much of her singing inspiration from the likes of Joni Mitchell, Shawn Colvin, Alison Krauss and Sarah McLachlan.

The title track opens with the harmonizing sounds of a singing bowl and chimes, followed by Kimberly softly singing an ethereal “Om” mantra. Serving up a seamless fusion of east-meets-west, the composition leads into a repeated phrase of “awaken me” amidst relaxing guitar and ethnic percussion. The earthy and grounding nature of this piece continues on “The Dream” – another lovely number that begins with breezy celestial tones – before leading out into a contemporary acoustic arrangement entwined with eastern percussive elements. Here Kimberly sings a soulful melody accompanied by guitar, shakers, string instruments and additional vocal features. Another one of my favorites is “Great Divide”; this piece initially begins with acoustic guitar and native flutes, which are soon followed by our lead songstress who is eventually joined by harmonious backing vocals. Celebratory and soothing, it particularly reminds me of a song one might perform with friends while gathering around a campfire under a starlit sky. The mesmerizing “Do I Dare” is another personal favorite; here Kimberly sings a heartfelt tune over a diverse array of instruments that include digeridoo, native flutes and exotic percussion. The album closes with an alternate “earth mix” version of this wonderful composition – placing a heavier emphasis on its sacred semblance and trance-like mood.

A blissfully rewarding debut, “Awaken Me” boasts warmly lush arrangements and richly heartfelt melodies that are conveyed by poetic and down-to-earth lyrics. Many ancient musical elements are deftly woven into these contemporary vocal arrangements of soulful expression and sleek professionalism. There’s a folksy quality to much of the music – as it feels set in the countryside and far removed from busy city life – with Kimberly’s voice and singing style often reminding me of Joni Mitchell’s (especially when she hits the higher notes). A divinely inspirational gift that’s evocative of feminine power, I particularly recommend this album to fans of sacred vocal, adult contemporary and world fusion styles of music! ~Candice Michelle (
Rating: Excellent
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