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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
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Journey of Tears
By Monica Williams
Label: Heart Dance Records
Released 9/21/2018
Journey of Tears tracks
1. Raining Tears
2. Conversations Within
3. New Horizons
4. Unconditional Love
5. On the Edge
6. Finding Peace
7. Constant Change
8. Wandering
9. Love from a Distance
10. The Great Beyond
Creating Optimism
Flutist, teacher, and composer, Monica Williams offers up her latest work, Journey of Tears. Although classically trained, her music crosses over many genres including jazz, world, and New Age. She is an award nominated composer living in the Bay Area (San Francisco) and co-founder of the group Phoenix Rising. She has four albums to date, two with the band and two as a solo performer.

Williams’s journey is about finding balance. In life, in love, and especially in music. It is about the challenge to any spirit, a testament to how life sometimes means pain, but is counterbalanced by love. Monica, through her contemporary, earthy melodies seems to have that balance and it is a lesson from which we can all learn.

The album commences with the tune Raining Tears. I can hear a distant thunderstorm proceed the emotion in this poignant song. Monica uses the sorrowful, echoing qualities of a Native American flute as she does in many of the tunes as her voice. Tears fall in a downpour as a broken heart reacts to ultimate sadness. The thunder, a constant companion to lightning, is a reminder that circumstances follow every action.

Conversations Within is a melodic exchange between conscious and subconscious expressed in musical terms. It is the little voice in your head that influences, cajoles, and tempts you every single day of your life. Trust me there are no opposing characters sitting on your shoulders. It is all you. Monica’s straightforward flute theme is blissfully optimistic.

Monica is joined by Sherry Finzer on bass flute and Darin Mahoney on guitar in the moody, harmonious tune New Horizons. How three simple instruments could produce such an emotionally charged ambience is a wonder. New Horizons is almost like a first step into a partially opened doorway. You just can’t wait to see what is on the other side.

One of my many favorites on Journey of Tears is called Unconventional Love. I don’t if there is any kind of love in our world that is a simple, forthright, or uncomplicated. This love however, is love by means of the spirit. It is the soul that surrenders to the greatness, the psyche that accepts. It is love beyond the unrequited kind. It is the love so great that it needs no reciprocation to exist. All of that complexity is in Monica’s song.

On the Edge is one of the livelier tunes on the album. It has a tinge of Celtic fantasy and Bodhran percussion that develops a great deal of energy. The flute races through the woods, decreeing danger, fear, and hopelessness. The music is not exactly, dark, but you can feel the tension in the notes. Something is about to happen.

It starts out with a warm drone. Tiny chimes glisten in the music. A trip to the Middle East is in store on the song Wandering. The music is hypnotic as it takes you on that not-so-familiar magic carpet ride. A billion stars overhead, a crackling fire in front of you, and an unforgettable night is in the making.

There are two voices in the final tune, The Great Beyond. The duality is composed by the expression of Monica’s sensual flute which is sister to the sultry voice of the Goddess, vocalized by Alexa Nadrima. Both entice you past your current state of mind and allow you to roam freely beyond the planes of casual musing. The song is ageless, weightless, and mesmerizing.

All ten tracks on Journey of Tears are quietly satisfying. Although they center on a main theme of a journey of the mind, one full of life experiences and sometimes personal tribulations, they result in producing a euphoric experience when taken as a collection. I certainly look forward to hearing more from flutist Monica Williams.
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 10/11/2018
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