Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Overview: Sacred Lullabies by Camille Nelson

Sacred Lullabies is the third album by guitarist and violinist Camille Nelson and her debut full-length release on the Heart Dance Records label. Raised in a musical family with an opera singer mother, Camille’s brother, Steven Sharpe Nelson, is also a member of the hugely successful classical crossover band The Piano Guys.

A flawless amalgamation of acoustic folk, neoclassical and contemporary Christian music with a light sprinkling of Celtic flavors, Sacred Lullabies gently alternates between inspirational vocal and lulling instrumental compositions. The amazingly talented team of female guest singers includes Kimberly Knighton, Britney Holman, Madilyn Paige, Stephanie Madison and Alex Sharpe, the latter being a former member of the international music phenomenon Celtic Woman, whose splendidly soaring vocals grace a gorgeous rendition of “Into the West” from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King movie soundtrack. Additionally, another one of Camille’s musically gifted brothers, Matthew John Nelson, joins his sister on violin for the classical-folkish instrumental piece “New World”.

Effectively creating a sacred space of enveloping warmth, spiritual comfort and steadfast inner strength, Sacred Lullabies is a top-tier album of authentically personal expression and exemplary musical arranging, as well as easily one of the finest releases this year! ~Candice Michelle


For more information please visit the artist's website. This album is also available at Amazon, Bandcamp and other retail and streaming platforms.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Album Review: Dance of Two Souls by Perpetual Motion

Perpetual Motion is an instrumental duo comprised of guitarist Tom Carleno and violinist Josie Quick who’ve been creating music together for over three decades. Their latest album, Dance of Two Souls, rejoins their respective talents for a listening experience that feels festive, carefree and vibrant. Comprised of thirteen compositions spanning just under an hour, Dance of Two Souls is notably inspired by the couple’s travels throughout Central and South America as well as a couple of overseas locations, with the final result being a musical expedition of instrumental world fusion that's beautifully shaped by various cultures and landscapes. Supporting the duo's acoustic guitars and acoustic/electric violins are Blake Eberhard on acoustic/electric bass, as well as Christian Teele whose diverse range of percussive styles further adds to the colorful intricacy of Perpetual Motion's engaging, terrific performances.

Some highlights include the opening piece, “Sunsplash”, with its tropical flair and free-spirited vibe recalling the couple's trip to Belize. Following next is the vivacious “Diabla” which draws its inspiration from a journey through the mountains of Central America. Aptly-infused with both Spanish and indigenous elements, this adventurous piece showcases Latin guitar, fiery percussion and dynamic violin-playing, perfectly topped-off by the added touch of rainstick further evoking a lush rainforest environment.

The chic and lively “Déjà vu” invites the listener to dine at a French café, while the title piece “Dance of Two Souls” shifts to the dancefloor with its sensuous Bossa Nova rhythm. “Dos Gringos” reflects upon the duo’s lifelong dream of traveling to South America, while “Viaje del Corazón” (“Journey of the Heart”) wades into Caribbean waters as the pair set their sights on Cuba.

Although being of part Central American and Caribbean roots myself, I found my attention most drawn to the mysterious “Where Does the Time Go”, which intriguingly blends both Middle Eastern and Southwest American motifs, thereby fascinatingly linking these geographical locations through imagery and sound.

Elegantly composed and performed as always, Dance of Two Souls delivers a diverting and leisurely listening getaway that is sure to awaken the travel bug! ~Candice Michelle

For more information please visit the artist's website. This album is also available at Amazon, iTunes and other retail and streaming platforms.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Top 20 Albums of July 2019

No. Artist – Album & Buy Link
01. Mirabai Ceiba – Agua De Luna
02. Wave of Sound – Letters for Lost Echoes
03. Víkingur Ólafsson – Bach Reworks (Part 2)
04. Robert Linton – Adrift in Wonder
05. Lisa Pressman – As We Imagine
06. Earth Tree Healing – Goddess
07. Perpetual Motion – Dance of Two Souls
08. Gerhard Daum – Songs Without Words
09. Jill Haley – The Winds of Badlands
10. Michele McLaughlin – Memoirs
11. Scott August – Beyond Summer
12. Jonny Lipford – Migration
13. Juliet Lyons – The Light Within
14. Secret Garden – Storyteller
15. Jacques Y. Farard & Lise Charbonneau – Invocation
16. Incendio – Summoning the Muse
17. Ciro Hurtado – Altiplano
18. Raphael Groten – Star Lullaby
19. Edward Blumenthal – The Late Train Home
20. Elderane – Primeros Pasos

Album Review: The Winds of Badlands by Jill Haley


Jill Haley is a pianist, oboist and English horn player both as a solo artist and a frequent guest musician on many other recordings. The latest installment in her signature national park-themed series of albums, The Winds of Badlands takes the listener on an imaginary tour of Badlands National Park in South Dakota with Haley serving as our informative musical park guide. Characterized by its rugged landscape of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, spires, canyons and prairie grasslands, Haley musically interprets the Badlands terrain in the form of earth-tone soundscapes that hearken back to the classic Windham Hill Records sound with her Americana-infused acoustic instrumental compositions. Leading the pieces with English horn, oboe and piano, Haley is additionally joined by David Cullen on guitar and bass along with Graham Cullen on cello, while recording master and mixer Corin Nelsen co-produced the album with her.

As always, Haley’s album is artfully packaged with an accompanying booklet and natural photography, along with brief sentences describing what each composition is about. It’s like turning the pages of a picture-book that, while listening along to, encourages one to more deeply appreciate the pristine beauty of these North American landscapes.

Favorites include “Cliff Shelf Breeze” with its particularly lovely piano melody and open-air atmosphere effectively conveying a big picture view of the landscape below. Likewise, the album’s only solo piano piece, “Sculpted by Water”, is also one of its most striking, drawing its inspiration from the process of water erosion reshaping the park’s rocky terrain over time. Additionally, “Rustles of Green and Gold” musically illustrates a turkey winding its way through the rustling grasses with a peaceful ensemble of mesmerizing piano accentuated by tender oboe and guitar. Although Haley’s compositions are typically set against a sunny backdrop, she does occasionally slip into a more nocturnal mood with reposeful pieces like “Silhouettes at Dusk” and “Moon Over Badlands”. Ultimately however, The Winds of Badlands fittingly wraps it all up with the lively acoustic guitar-accompanied “Prairie Grass Dance”.

With there being no shortage of breathtaking American landscapes to be creatively inspired by, I suspect we’ll be hearing many more national park themed albums to come, and it’s always a rewarding experience whenever Jill Haley sets her sights on another natural environment to observe, explore and interpret via her musical excellence! ~Candice Michelle

For more information please visit the artist's website. This album is also available at Amazon, iTunes and other retail and streaming platforms.