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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
Other reviews from The Sounding Board by R J Lannan:
  Christmas from the Heart by Various Artists, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 12/12/2016
  Echoes of Christmas by Louis Colaiannia, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 12/12/2016
  Beau soir de Noël by Trio Beau Soir, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 12/12/2016
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Journey Home
By Raphael Groten
Label: Silent Wing Records
Journey Home tracks
1. Sweetness  
2. Black River  
3. Waves  
4. Journey Home: Awakening
5. Journey Home: Breath
6. Journey Home: Echoes
7. Journey Home: Arrival
8. Ebb & Flow
9. Grandpa's Hands
10. Rest
11. Elder
12. Truth
13. Be
14. Sweetness Reprise
Journey's Joy
The jet engine whine was loud in my head, so I settled down with my music player and an artist that was new to me. That is what is so exciting about writing reviews. There is always something new. My mind settled down as soon as I pressed play, the noise forgotten. Journey Home, the new release by Raphael Groten, a very talented fingerstyle guitarist, made me overlook that I was hurtling through space as if God had thrown a lawn dart across the planet. Raphael offers up fourteen tracks of contemplative contemporary guitar that is quite soothing. Every track is built upon tranquility, no jigs and reels here. There are ballads, yes, but then there are several melodic poems offered, sounding like the musical equivalent of sonnets.

The opening tune, Sweetness dawdles on the mental palette like home made honey on the tongue. It is everything the soul enjoys from brown eyes to blue skies. It is the memories that linger on the edge of consciousness, that bear revisiting time and time again. What a wonderful mental picture Raphael paints with this tune.

The Black River of Brazil is a place teeming with life. Dolphins, piranha and caiman share the same murky waters as the natives. People live in stilt houses, a precaution against seasonal flooding. As the channel joins the Amazon River, it becomes the epitome of life. Raphael's song Black River is a chronical of his journey on that waterway. His music suggests that he saw vibrant life around every turn, and witnessed the lively and various forms of nature that have been symbiotic for eons. Black River flows smoothly, its current strong and sure. Like the river, the music hurries and slows, a dark ribbon upon the landscape. And like the water, the music seeps into our spirits, unobserved, but nourishing nonetheless.

There is a four song suite on the album with the title and then a label. My favorite is called Journey Home: Echoes. It is a languid tune, but the melody allows for thinking deep thoughts, fantasizing about new ones and remembering old ones. As I listened to this I wondered where my life went right. Yeah. I wondered how my life became so rich in family and friends, music and memories.

There is a folksy tune on Journey Home called Rest. It sounded like Raphael was sitting on the back porch watching the sunset and savoring the moment. Sometimes it's good to take stock of one's life and seize a new perspective. It doesn't matter if you are eighteen or eighty.

Truth is another favorite. Even though it is new to me, there is something familiar about it. Maybe my soul heard it before, and now my body is catching up in a deja vu sort of way. I appreciated this song for what it symbolized to me. I am a proponent of truth, especially when it deals with self. This invariably leads to honesty or is it the other way around?

The song Be has its roots somewhere in a cozy tropical village. The sun shines brightly, the air is warm, and the sea beckons over the horizon. I do not know if Raphael wrote this as a testament to existentialism, but the very nature of the song suggests that we can be what we want to be, if only in our daydreams.

The album cover features a beautiful Monarch butterfly, the only known species that actually makes a migration journey like birds do. No matter how far they travel, they always come home. And like many of us, sometimes, they do not know why.

Raphael Groten plays his guitar in northern Vermont. His biography is quite sparse, but then it really is not a matter of who, but what. His music is calming without repetition and reflective without being brooding. I liked every track on Journey Home.
Rating: Very Good   Very Good
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 5/28/2016
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