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Mountains Made of Shadow, Anthems Made of Light by Dan Kennedy
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 3/29/2018
One of his most inspiring albums ever
I have admired the work of Dan Kennedy for years now and with his partnership on Bloom Road with David Rose, something exceptional was born into the world of music. Well Dan is back once more, this time providing us, the ever eager listener, with a piano based release of supreme quality.
What a better way to start the album Mountains Made of Shadow, Anthems Made of Light, than with one of the most tender, but also most descriptive offerings I have heard from the artist entitled Chilly Morning. One could imagine with ease, waking to the start of the new day, pulling back the curtains, opening the windows and feeling the coldness of a new day, but one that reminds us we are very much alive.
On Give It All Away a raising of energy can be found; a piece that has a wonderful flow about its arrangement, but also an exciting sense of freedom about its musical nature, this lively and happy composition contains power, fluency and joy, all wrapped in one heck of a sublime performance.
Another reflective arrangement can be heard on Wintergreen, the performance here is filled with memory and hope, and one can really detect Kennedy’s classical training here. This is so beautiful played and with such a delicate level of emotion contained within too.
Backstory has a melody and theme that will become a true legend in the solo piano genre, the minor structures brings a chill to the back of the neck and the emotive essences makes this one of the best arrangements of this style I have heard for ages. The repeating motif narrates for us a colourful progression, one that contains the ups and downs of life, beautifully portrayed in this quite powerful composition.
The combination of dark and light is superbly thought-out on this album, as now we once more raise the rhythms with the light and airy piece Souvenirs. Once more Kennedy creates a full and memorable melody, and then builds a musical box of many memories within a web of an outstanding solo piano performance.
The half way mark has been reached and we find a vast and lush arrangement called After the Heartache is Gone. The sadness of loss starts to leave us now and the pain seems to be subsiding, leaving little pockets of light and hope within the mood filled moments of our lives. Kennedy has really stepped up to the plate here; this is a true heart on the sleeve performance that may give the listener a moment of emotional healing.
California is now upon us and this musical moment of reverie is sublimely created by the artist. The theme is rich, but also light in style, there can also be found here, a feeling of slow but steady movement towards a goal that is about to be achieved. There are so many tunes here that you may find yourself whistling during your day, and that is the mark of an excellent composition, and yes, this is another one to add to that collection.
A favourite of mind, among many, is the quite picturesque Ennio; with the backdrop of a very gentle synth pad we now journey through a track via the piano, one that is so smooth but vast, but very attractive in its energy and build. Ennio as a piece is almost like floating on the clouds of tone, free from all that tethers us, and thoroughly enjoying the moment of peace and tranquillity.
We now move to the deeper regions of the album and come across a truly pretty arrangement called Wildflower. This has a vast mountainous feel to the arrangement; one could see a vista of beautiful wild flowers all dancing on the wind, to the tones of this track. This is one of those pieces of music you cannot help but fall in love with.
Implying Flying is our next offering; there is a duel aspect to this composition that I found fascinating. The construction is clever, as you are never truly sure where you are going, the dance from dark into light and back is compelling, and drives the piece forward with a certain narrative of intensity that is completely addictive.
The penultimate offering is Allelu; this aged melody will no doubt take some listeners back to their early upbringings of a religious nature. While the last arrangement on the album finishes our journey with a flourish and is entitled, The Fire Within. This is an absolutely classy way to end the new release and once more Dan Kennedy manifests something outstanding for us to leave this musical voyage with, the perfect end piece, which seems to sum up the entire release with ease, listen particularly to the change in pattern and form on this brilliant opus.
Mountains Made of Shadow, Anthems Made of Light by Dan Kennedy must be Kennedy’s finest work to date; he has allowed the creative muse to come forward and take him over completely. This album has moments of emotional genius, melody’s we will never forget, and a time for reflection and happiness. Dan Kennedy has now lain at our table, one of the most inspiring albums he has ever produced.
Rating: Excellent
Moonlight In Empty Rooms by Heidi Anne Breyer
- posted by Dyan Garris on 3/28/2018
Moonlight in Empty Rooms
Moonlight In Empty Rooms by Heidi Breyer
A Musical Study of the Art of Alexander Volkov
Album review by Dyan Garris for New Age
This is an undeniably exquisite Neo-classical piano and violin album by award winning composer and pianist, Heidi Breyer. Her 5th album, “Moonlight in Empty Rooms” is twelve tracks, each inspired by the original paintings of her husband, Russian-American oil painter, Alexander Volkov. The violin performances on the album are by Charlie Bisharat, an American Grammy® Award-winning violinist. Bisharat has performed with Yanni, John Tesh, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, and many other notables. The album was produced at Imaginary Road Studios, home to Grammy® winning guitarist, producer, and founder of Windham Hill Records, Will Ackerman.
Volkov describes his fine art as “. . .always a story of light traveling through darkness.” “Moonlight in Empty Rooms” is a superb reflection and interpretation of that story, and like rich icing on a luscious cake, it’s the perfect counterpart.
A booklet and a DVD both come along with the physical album. The booklet contains images of the artwork with inspirational snippets. The DVD is comprised of 12 videos; footage of Volkov’s artwork set to Breyer’s exceptional music.
Track 1, “An Unfinished Conversation,” opens the album brilliantly and sets the stage for the promise of much more to come. Passionate, emotional, and tender, this feels like the story of a meaningful soul relationship that lasts not only throughout this lifetime, but through eternity, with always more to learn and experience no matter where the road of life leads.
Track 3 is the charming, “Autumn in Bruges.” Bruges is a picturesque town in Belgium with a rich medieval history. “Autumn in Bruges” is captivating with its cascading nuances conjuring up images of cobblestone streets, romantic canals, and bell towers.

“Moonlight in Empty Rooms” the title track, is full of graceful movement and ambiance, the piano layered sumptuously throughout with the violin. Each nuance and subtlety is carefully coaxed out of hiding and brought forth to blend together in perfect harmony, like expert brushstrokes on a canvas begin to form a masterpiece. You can feel the resultant light right in your heart.

The composition, “Rainy Day,” on track 7, is exquisitely beautiful and hauntingly so. It’s a favorite of mine on the album. The violin performance is exceptional, forming a lush tapestry with Breyer’s gentle, evocative, and expressive piano performance. There is something that really speaks to the depths of the soul here. This is peace. Deep and satisfying peace.

“End of Summer” winds up the album and reminds us, similarly as in track 1, that even as the light of summer fades, there is always more to come. There is always the story.

We love it. Highly and most definitely recommended.

Buy the CD here:
Artist website:

Rating: Excellent
Beautiful Song by Anne Trenning and Friends
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 3/23/2018
A rich texture & style, a colorful tapestry of mus
There is much to admire about the latest release Beautiful Song by Anne Trenning, it has elements of many genres and styles and is as lyrically pleasing as a summer sunset in June.
The Celtic motif on the opener is a most pleasing place to start and is of course the title track. Beautiful Song sweetly flows along with such a calming river of colour and sound and its smooth Celtic style is as warming and friendly as the violin that plays a major part on this piece, this is multi instrumental music at its very best.
Trenning’s talents can be in no doubt, and if you have been a fan of Neil Young over the years, I think you will appreciate her arrangement of Helpless, those wonderful Young signatures seem to just flow with great dexterity from her piano, accompanied by gentle strings along the way, creating a lush multi-dimensional version.
On You Will Know My Love, we have some of that very special Trenning magic that has matured so well over the years; this is a fine example of a piano performance that narrates a composition of honesty and unconditional love with such consummate ease.
Ciro Hurtado has to be one of the finest acoustic guitarists of the day, so to include him on this piece entitled El Farol was a stroke of genius, and a great tip of the hat to its original conception, by the amazing Carlos Santana. Listen to the stunning fluency by Trenning on this piece.
The subtleties of Do I Hear Christmas are something to listen to and include the Flugel Horn skills of the one and only Jeff Oster. The decidedly attractive string segments within this piece and the whole album provide a tranquil foundation of perfection, and all the while Trenning plays so softly and gently, as if caressing the very notes that utter from Oster’s Flugel Horn in a symbiotic partnership of tone.
This next piece should get the energies moving, a lively motif can be found on Miller Gap, the Celtic influence is strong in this one, and the flute bounces around with the effervescent piano of Trenning with ease.
As we descend into the latter half of the album we come across a fascinating little arrangement called It’s a Great Day to Be Alive. As I stated earlier this release transverses the genres with ease, Americana, Folk, and Country are just a few to be touched, especially so with this one, originally written by Darrell Scott and eventually recorded by Jon Randall. What Trenning does so well here, is to create a real sun kissed opus of a piece, and her performance brings the whole arrangement up to date, a truly happy composition to be enjoyed with a smile.
It has to be said that I do have favourites from most albums I review and that’s many, this next one is my favourite from this album, it’s the mournful and reflective Hard Times Come No More. One must also send thumbs up to accordionist Brendon Bush as well. This is one of those imploring offerings that could last well over the years, a constant reminder that even the worst of times can be defeated by a little faith in oneself.
I simply adored the 1985 movie Witness, which highlighted the acting skills of Star Wars hero Harrison Ford. Maurice Jarre’s composition Building the Barn was an outstanding arrangement from it, and here Trenning and her piano, accompanied by the strings of musical magic, manifest a really delicate but purposeful piece.
The penultimate offering is called If I Could Be With You, its construction almost touches the hem of classical music and dances with the new age genre with such happiness. This again has such a charming narrative to it; it’s a true feel good moment of musical brilliance.
Ann Trenning sums up her concept with a short form composition called Go Light Your World, ably supported by the smooth tones of Fred Hiscock’s Tenor Saxophone. Trenning brings this musical journey to an end with a touch of cleverness, which leaves us musically full filled by what we have just heard.
Beautiful Song, doesn’t only do Trenning’s skills as a pianist justice, it also highlights her intelligence as a performer and composer; she has gathered together a fine array of artists in their own right, and brought to the world an album rich in texture and style, within a colourful tapestry of music, that can only bring happy smiles to the faces of all who listen.
Rating: Excellent
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