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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
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A Thousand Years
By Stanton Lanier w/ Jill Haley, Noah Wilding, Will Ackerman
Label: Music to Light the World
Released 6/20/2011
A Thousand Years tracks
1. Across the Skies
2. A World of Wonders
3. Vive la Joye
4. A Thousand Years
5. Hymn to Bach
6. Bread of Angels
7. For a Lifetime Blessings Flow
8. Always in Blossom
9. Be Still in the Moment
10. Monastary at Eventide
11. Prelude in C
12. Alleluias Dancing
From Your Heart to God's Ear
It appears that pianist Stanton Lanier has done it again. I was quite taken with his previous album Unveiled, and I gave it an excellent rating. Well, he leaves me no choice, but to do it again. His latest work is A Thousand Years, in which he combines his spellbinding technique on acoustic piano with simple, yet polished additions of voice, English horn and guitar. In addition, as is his habit, Lanier teams up with award winning producer Will Ackerman and mix master Corin Nelsen of Imaginary Road Studios to offer an album of distinct beauty and elegance. When my software loaded the album, it categorized his genre as "religious" and I thought that it was strange. I decided that this recording is neo-symphonic at times and perhaps contemporary. Further listening however, added a strong element of, shall we say, conviction, into the mixture. It changed the perspective a little, but to the good side.

Classical music has been around for more than a thousand years, but contemporary music is just becoming an art form. To prove it Lanier opens with Across the Skies, a tune based on a variation of Pachelbel's canon. I was treated with an uplifting melody that promises cerulean skies and a sensation that was lighter than air. The song had the familiar classical structure, but the contemporary version somehow allowed me to drift along, carefree and lighthearted.

Bread of Angels: no manna what way you say, this song is beautiful. (I could not help myself.) The Noah Wilding vocal is seraphic and the piano lead blends smoothly into a song of rapturous bliss. There is softness to the music that bespeaks gentleness, peace and above all else, grace. This was my favorite on the album. As I listened in the dark of the night, I thought I heard the evanescent beating of wings.

Stanton presents his adaptation of Be Still My Soul, the ever-popular 1752 hymn with lyrics by Ka­tha­ri­na von Schle­gel. The most heart-wrenching vocal of the song I ever heard was by Lisbeth Scott and Paul Schwartz, but the most moving instrumental is by Stanton. To me, it is a most comforting song, one of submission to the forces of good and a reassurance in the faith. This version is tentative, as if it were a humble offering. I sure it shall be well received.

Everyone is thankful for something; the sun rises every morning, the smile from across the room touches your heart, or the prayer answered touches your soul. The tribute to Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring is obvious in the tune Vive la Joye. It is a song of celebration, solo piano style, of Lanier's thankfulness for the gifts that life gives him. Talent, family, and friends are all on the list, but in-between the notes are all the things you do not see. You will have to supply your own inventory.

Monastery at Eventide really caught my attention. The title itself is suggestive of peacefulness. The melody based on Chopin's Prelude in E-Minor. As the classical piece alternate title is "Largo" and it suggests, there is an innate sadness in the world. It is a key element needed to balance the joy prevalent in our lives. It is quite beautiful.

The album closes with Alleluias Dancing and I would have thought that the tune would be effervescent, but it was quite calm and controlled. Apparently, alleluias are not that jivvy. Seriously, the song is a one of jubilation of the spirit and again could be a prayer of notes sent on High to thank the One. I have to admit I played this one many times to hear Jill Haley's English horn trumpet up to the heavens.

Stanton Lanier's latest offering is flawless it in production as well as its emotion. I got the sense of calm right away and the feeling remained throughout the album. With all the music I hear, there are not many albums that become permanent on the MP3 player, but this is one of them. Intricate, gentle, impeccable.
Rating: Excellent   Excellent
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 8/6/2011
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