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Blue Moon Rising by Acoustic Ocean
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 11/16/2018
Music to sooth the soul
There is a certain sense of memory and love created within the weave of this album that will become very apparent. This is the first I had heard from Acoustic Ocean since the release of Chimes of the Spirit back in 2013. I was saddened to hear of the passing of harpist Peggy Morgan in 2016, but here it is, the latest offering from them, with a new energy perhaps, but dedicated to the memory of the late band member.
A Hui Hou (Until We Meet Again) is the very beginning point of our musical journey and one that has such a calming refrain. Listening to this, one could easily just float away into a state of deep relaxation; the acoustic guitar of Phelan here was simply mesmeric.
The use of natural sounds can be a contentious point for some artists in this genre, but on Blue Moon Rising, it is the perfect entry point into a piece that has a delightful Celtic energy to its construction. The percussion and fretless bass here were also sublime in their partnership within the main narrative of this most enjoyable arrangement.
Listen to the very start of this next offering and enjoy the guitar that wends its way down the country lane of this piece, one could almost be mistaken for thinking for a short while that we were about to listen to the opening of Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. Recalling Beauty is an incredibly classy composition that has so many elements to its overall construction and is indeed my favourite piece off the release.
The picturesque and colourful Deep Grace / Scarborough Fair is up next, it is a multi-instrumental haven, again pertinent natural sounds drift through the composition, but the almost timeless tempo of this offering is utterly tranquil, there is a quality like no other here, the talents of Phelan seem to have no boundaries when it comes to manifesting sublime soundscapes
The album contains some absolutely stunning songs, all seemingly manifested with such a wonderful artistic flair, it would be almost impossible to count the wide and varied instrumentation on this amazing release. On Spirit Awakening we can feel a true lightness of energy drifting from the tones of the arrangement, the little effects like the chimes and strings just go to add a whole new layer of magic to this already vibrant offering.
The quite stunning Lotus Petals Falling On The Pacific is up next. The acoustic guitar here is quite breath-taking and created a feeling of beauty inside me as I listened to its graceful tones. I adore the graphic nature of this offering, through the arrangement it would be easy to visualise such a charming picture as the title depicts.
There is something strange about hearing the voice of a partner when they have passed over, I had this with my late wife, a former and early presenter of this station, in a way through this medium they are never lost, just moved on, I say all this as the amazing Peggy Morgan features on this piece, with her voice and Harp two years after her passing, on the quite memorable and reflective composition entitled Love Is A Force Field.
I found The Silent Storm a truly powerful piece, unlike a storm that rages around the world of nature, this felt more of an inward storm, perhaps one that rages inside and needs to be quelled. I found the performance here by the band quite moving and extremely deep, this is a masterful musical moment washed by the dark waters of the inner creativity of release.
The start of this track was fantastic, a Tibetan Bowl chime and an Owl hooting, how clever, I adore inventive moments like this, and then the track just seems to smoothly transpose into one of the most relaxing offerings of the album. Sweet Mana From Heaven is as fluent as they come, and one could easily be lulled into a gentle sleep by the empowering, but restful tones of this brilliant arrangement.
We now find ourselves knocking on the door of the penultimate offering off the album it is called Shadow Dancers. The strings and bass here combined wonderfully to give us a sense of movement and indeed dance; the track also has a really intriguing ancient quality to its construction as well.
Water sounds and a gentle guitar caress our senses, and lead us into the very last piece off the release with a sublime ease, this is the longest offering at well over six minutes and is indeed the rich palette of sound it professes to be, this is indeed a multi instrumental track of extreme superior quality, and a superb way to leave the album too. All Things Made New is also a clever title as we may have come to the end of the release, but we feel refreshed and revitalised by this musical voyage we have taken.
I would rate Blue Moon Rising as one of the most graphic and colourful albums I have had the pleasure to review this year, its production quality and sublime performances by both Bette Phelan and Kay Aldrich on Cello have created for us, the perfect musical tapestry to bathe in for eons to come. Fans of classic new age music will love this release, but here is an album that could be embraced by just about anyone who has an open mind, heart, and a desire to seek out simply beautiful manifested music to sooth the soul.
Rating: Excellent
Canyon Shadows by Joanne Lazzaro
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 11/14/2018
A stunning release
It’s good to see a new Joanne Lazzaro album appear on my desktop, I was only thinking about her release Under the Stars from 2015 the other day, amazing to think that three years have since past, but here she is with a band called Dreamcatcher and producing a wonderfully natural release for us all to enjoy more of her ever so fluent flute once again. The album score was originally written by Katherine Hoover and this is the first album Joanne has produced.
Canyon Shadows is an eight piece album that starts with the opener Searching, an inventive and calming offering that draws a peace filled narrative for to carry us along to a more vibrant offering entitled Moving In, here we almost dance to the rhythm’s she creates; this is a special offering as well, a nice layered composition can be found here with flutes that seems to hover, twist and turn with each other.
Lazzaro became a bit of a fan favourite with her last album, and I can see the same happening with this one too, her long notes pull us in on the piece Echo, one which has a delightful haunting energy that transforms with the percussion and allows us to drift easily into the next track called Celebration with great ease. This is a real fun offering, a lively tempo can be found here, but the organic feel of this arrangement was incredibly appealing to me and I would think also for many of the listeners who adore this genre.
With pieces like the sultry and mysterious Dusk, a track that I actually had to play several times; the attention to detail here is amazing, there is also an almost touching of the hem, of the classical minimalistic style, that does indeed graphically portray this time of day here.
Quite appropriately Searching (Desert Dawn Mix) is next and natural sounds lead us into a track that has a slow and warm nature about its construction, within this piece one could feel like they are walking towards an oasis on the edge of some vast desert in the early hours of the day.
Two further remixes end the album as we take an alternative look at the track Echo with the Canyon Mix and finish with re-envisioned musical musing of the track Dusk with the Desert Night Fall Mix, both very inventive and well-crafted mixes indeed.
Canyon Shadows by Joanne Lazzaro has that real organic feel about it; one that I am sure will appeal to lovers of naturally manifested music. Lazzaro’s flute performances are profoundly inventive and well played, she has really become the story teller of her genre and I am sure that the listeners will be enraptured by this fresh and spontaneous release.
Rating: Excellent
Deva by Deva Premal
- posted by Gena on 11/13/2018

Deva Premal (pronounced day-vuh prim-all) is considered one of the top chant singers in the world and one of the most popular at taking traditional mantras and putting them in a context accessible to international audiences. Her recording titled DEVA not only features world music backing by her regular band -- Miten, Manose and Joby Baker -- but also features special guest Anoushka Shankar playing sitar on two songs (including the prayerful “Prabhujee” written by her father Ravi Shankar). Each mantra features Deva’s lovely voice (sometimes with backing vocals) creating a spiritual, meditative and inviting atmosphere for personal connection and growth. Her audience -- whether listening along to a recording or attending one of her concerts around the globe -- usually join in the singing of these classic mantras. Whether listening or singing-along, it is a cosmic experience and Deva Premal is one of the leaders in this field. The music of Deva Premal has been endorsed by celebrities as varied as Cher, Tony Robbins, and H H the Dalai Lama. Highly recommended.
Rating: Excellent
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