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Voyager by Lisa Swerdlow
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 8/28/2018
Go on a Voyage with Lisa
Lisa Swerdlow is back after the chart topping success of Equus Rising, and this new musical child is born with such a sublime sense of melody and charm, it was take you by the hand and lead you to a musical wonderland of solo piano like never before, it is called Voyager.
The opening is probably the most melodic start you could ever wish for and the title track Voyager takes us a journey through time and space with such sublime precision and delicacy, it is a delight to simply be a part of this moment of musical bliss, this is utterly the best start to an album your ever likely to hear.
Swerdlow follows that up with an equally brilliant offering entitled Edge of Tranquillity. I heard this being played yesterday by my partner Chrissie and was stunned at its beautiful presence and flow. Swerdlow has a classy ability to change power and intensity seemingly at will, and is without doubt one of the most listenable pianists around today.
Mindful Moments is next, and as you would expect from the title we have a short time here to ponder the pathways of life’s rich tapestry. This can be done with ease on this most passionate and reflective opus, but one can also enjoy the moments of unbound emotion here too, these emotive energies are so powerful I personally found them awe-inspiring.
One of my favourite times of year now is autumn, it didn’t use to be, how could it be, when living in the dredges of an English grey season, but here in the Mediterranean it is a delight beyond that of gold. Here the artist performs an empowering arrangement that seems to usher out a tiring summer and then embraces the change of the new season. Autumn Speaks to Me is indeed a powerful yet moving offering, which will paint a delightful musical narrative of transformation.
There was a warm and certain smoothness on the piece Sundays in Paris, one that gives you that feeling musically, of waking to a new day and gazing at the sunny Sunday filtered autumn light streaming in through the cracks in the curtains. This track has a slight intensity within it, but one that feels as if it comes from a much loved memory. I can see that during the weeks and months ahead I will be playing this one multiple times.
We now begin the gentle voyage into the latter half of the album and come across an arrangement that is both softly played with a deliberate mindfulness and entitled Gone Too Soon. This is one of these tracks that whilst listening to it, we will each have a story of why we feel the way we do while listening to the offering. This for me is deeply moving and emotional and very imploring, one could easily get lost within the mood filled structure of this expressive composition.
As we move deeper into the labyrinths of this release we also find ourselves in the deep mid-winter and in fact at the Winter Solstice. This would be one of my favourite pieces from the release, not that I have seen any snow for many years, but through the tone and minor notes I could imagine with ease sitting by a window in December, watching the white flakes drift down from the sky and be aware of the memories of this time of year that float with a certain reflective sadness across my mind.
Into the Center is an interesting track; it starts with a little sense of mystery and then very slowly develops into a beautiful reality of ambience, one that you would be more than happy to just roam in musically for ages. There were certain changes in her performance here that I adored, a quietness partnered with a hint of intensity, but all the while, built around a wonderful reality of musical confidence. Without doubt this has to be the most technically brilliant piece off the release.
The penultimate offering off the release is called I Saw You Dancing with the Stars, apart from being one of the most attractive and artistic titles on the album, this also has to be one of the most fluent pieces, this composition has such an abundance of flow and movement within it. There is also a splendid energy of dance within the construction of her performance and arrangement here that truly makes this a really happy and all-embracing composition, one that you simply just don’t want to leave.
Sadly we must part our ways with the artist now, but before we go, we can take a trip with her to California and go on a Yuba River Journey. The impressive techniques employed by Swerdlow on this offering take us on an amazing musical narrative, and one can literally flow with the river all the way. I also believe that this region was also part of the great gold rush era of the 1850’s and one can feel all that and much more within this too; it is the longest composition off the album at just short of seven minutes long as well.
Voyager is the second release by Lisa Swerdlow on the Heart Dance Record label, but in my opinion, easily her best so far. The artist has let her duel talents of performance skill and imagination completely loose here, and it shows with one of the finest solo piano albums this year. This is a powerful release, one that really stands up and demands to be listened too. It’s a release packed wall to wall with some of the most meaningful and colourful tracks around, all bound together by the one thing that Lisa Swerdlow has in obvious abundance, passion.
Rating: Excellent
Voyager by Lisa Swerdlow
- posted by Dyan Garris on 8/22/2018
Lisa Swerdlow - Voyager
“Voyager” is the 2018 album release by composer and New Age solo pianist, Lisa Swerdlow. It’s her 2nd release on the Heart Dance Records label. She is well placed there, as she says, “I hope my music serves as a vehicle for healing the heart.”
Hailing from a musical family, Lisa has a colorful musical history, including playing piano in a rock and roll band in San Francisco in the 1970s, as well as touring with an all-female salsa band. In 2017, she released her debut solo piano album, “Equus Rising.” It was nominated for “Best Solo Piano Album, 2017,” on One World Music Radio.
The album, “Voyager,” is inspired by a story she heard about the NASA twin spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2. These are, surprisingly, still sending imagery back to Earth 40 years later instead of their originally expected 15 years.
Perhaps like a voyage through space might be, or a journey through life, the album, “Voyager,” 12 tracks, is exciting, expressive, and expansive. Each composition on “Voyager” has definitive highs and lows, engaging tempo changes, and all are brimming with verve, vitality, and vivacity. These are like little travel vignettes that speak to directly to the soul.
The “voyage” begins with the title track, “Voyager,” which is pleasantly melodic, tightly composed and played. This is a great song, with its peaks and valleys; passionate crescendos expertly interwoven with quieter moments that give us pause for reflection upon life as a journey.
Following is “Edge of Tranquility.” This is flowing and fervent, starting off quite gently and then masterfully building in its intricacies. Here is where you start to get a really good sense not only of Lisa’s absolutely phenomenal keyboarding skills, but also of her sophisticated art of composition.
“Mindful Moments” is thoughtful and emotive. “Autumn Speaks to Me” is so expertly “transportive” we can almost literally feel ourselves as leaves being tumbled by the breeze.
A few of my personal favorites on “Voyager,” are “Sunday in Paris,” which is deeply beautiful and romantic, and “Gone Too Soon,” which as the title may imply, is soulful, wistful, and nostalgic. “Winter Solstice,” track 7, is deep and luxurious, with a catchy, memorable melody, and is played in both upper and lower registers quite adroitly. Track 8, “Into the Center,” is wide, expansive, and supremely expressive. Lush and abundant, with a dreamy feel, it’s definitely not boring on any level, and showcases her impressive piano playing skills.
Most prodigious is the effervescent, “I Saw You Dancing with the Stars.” This is twinkling and sparkling, overflowing with the rich, expressive emotion we enjoy all through “Voyager,” in every composition. Lisa employs the entire piano keyboard here in an exquisite dance and celebration of life itself. Truly exhilarating, this is solo piano the way a piano is meant to be played.
The album winds up with “Yuba River Journey,” which perfectly captures the crystal clear ambiance of this body of water, known for its pristine swimming holes surrounded by smooth granite rocks.
“Voyager” is a dazzling, ever-changing soundscape that leaves you in breathless amazement. It is a true virtuoso that can paint us such lush and eloquent landscapes with an instrument. So whether from space or from Earth, or some other planet, this album is a “must have” for true solo piano lovers everywhere.

Get “Voyager” at the artist’s official website: https://www.LisaSwerdlowPiano.com or wherever music is sold.



Eternal by Kevin Wood
- posted by Michael Foster (Ambient Visions) on 8/18/2018
Exquisite Album
With so many submissions always calling for my attention here at Ambient Visions I’m never sure what to expect when I put a CD in the player or cue up some songs in my media player but I must admit that the music on Kevin Wood’s latest album called Eternal was a pleasant surprise. Sometimes it is an occupational hazard that I inadvertently look at a title and an artist and think that I know what I will find when I listen to their latest album but sometimes that is just not the case.

Eternal is a contemplative album from beginning to end and is oriented around offering a peaceful place for the listener to open up to their own inner spiritual journey and to examine it in an environment that is both comforting and safe. Spirituality is a very personal journey that no one can show you the way you need to go but music such as what you will find on Eternal offers you a framework from which to venture into those unexplored waters with a sense that you have company that understands you as you walk on.

Eternal is a mixture of sacred and tribal chants, light beats and a touch of classical instrumentation at times and it all works together to create music that reaches into your spirit and gives you permission to “feel” what is oftentimes kept hidden in a world that tends to be a bit too cold to understand the tenderness that exists within each of us at a spiritual level.

Kevin has managed to weave this exquisite album together as each song tells an individual spiritual story while at the same time being a part of the whole. Eternal is not just Kevin working alone to communicate these truths to the listener instead it is a group effort as he has gathered together 10 guest artists who each contribute their considerable talents to making this album even more insightful than it already was as they offer their interpretations of Kevin’s compositions. With the likes of cellist Jami Sieber and South Africa’s Fancois le Roux and Paul Avgerinos it would have been difficult for this project not to have been successful in reaching its goal of opening the listener’s spirit to consider things that sometimes gets overlooked in the hustle and bustle of the 21st century

The music of Eternal offers a calming way to end your day or even to start it for that matter. The chants were skillfully woven into the fabric of this album along with the instrumentation to create a sound palette that will brightly shine into the hearts of those who are prepared to see that which lies within. The cello stands out in several spots during the course of this album and it is always a welcome instrument whenever I hear it interacting with the soundscape in such a wonderful way.

Kevin has achieved an intimacy with Eternal that listeners will appreciate as they look within but he has also allowed the music to be more than that. With the many voices that he has mixed into this project and the instrumentation he has given it a spaciousness that speaks not just to a certain spectrum of listener but will appeal to a broader range of people as they see within the music aspects that might not have been there if Kevin had gone a different direction with his compositions or if he had done it all himself.

All in all Kevin’s Eternal offers a diversity of views in terms of spirituality but all brought together in an organic way that binds them together as a unified whole. The music is polished and thoughtful in its presentation and will offer the listener a wonderful hour spent contemplating the path they are on and allowing them to see it from a variety of angles. With chants from traditions as varied as African, Native American, Celtic, Indian and Gregorian you can see how it will appeal to a wide cross section of listeners. I’m thinking that this is an album you might want to add to your collection. Recommended by Ambient Visions.
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