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Starlight Dreams by Karen Biehl
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 2/6/2019
Something wonderful!
Karen Biehl is a new artist to me, but one that during this release has delivered some very fascinating moments of musical bliss. Starlight Dreams is an album of thirteen solo tracks, mostly piano, and each one is delicately created with care and attention to detail, and a perfect journey of tone to voyage with.
The opening piece is the bright and energetic offering Awakenings, a composition that sets the scene perfectly for us the ever eager listener. She then follows that up with the quite smooth and tranquil Invocation, an offering that is steeped in the traditional new age style and delivered with such a delicious and skilful performance.
There was one track though that captured my heart completely, we can find this nestled in the middle of the album, it is called The Journey. As a listener, I felt transported by the tone and energy of this offering, one that seems to flow all around me like an incoming tide, a sublime piece indeed.
With tracks like the passionate and very beautiful Starlight Waltz, a track that one could easily sweep your partner up onto the dance floor with, to the deeply felt Autumn Amble, where whilst listening one is given a vista of falling leaves and sun kissed lanes, with a little emotive reflection as well, and then the surprise piece, the quite amazing revisiting of an earlier composition on the album called Meditation on a Moonlit Lake, which would be my personal favourite on the release, with lush synths and keyboards, what a fantastic way to leave the album.
Starlight Dreams by Karen Biehl has something that is wonderful, she is completely unique, when listening to the album one can feel a really powerful energy; a healing essence can be felt from its construction and while certain solo piano albums can sometimes come across as feeling a little to technical and cold, Starlight Dreams has a real warmth about its collection of sparkling compositions that is so very appealing.
Rating: Excellent
Conversations on Piano by Joseph Nimoh
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 2/6/2019
A memorable album
Today had been an emotional day for us both here, and sadly not in a good way, so as I sat to write a review for this album, I hoped it would transport me somewhere musically that was calming and somewhat uplifting, a little solace in music perhaps, I can state now I got that and much more, and now I invite you, on this sojourn through the solo piano realm with Joseph Nimoh.
Conversations On Piano is a beautiful album and a much need sanctuary on this day of mixed emotions for me, track one Anything For You, lifted me into a world of utter peace, while the following charming piano narrative entitled Beautiful Melody took me back to 2010 and Atlanta Hartsfield Airport, where I sat for some seven hours waiting for my plane home and listening to a piano being played in the large bar area, that seemed to have a similar resonance to this track, smooth, a little jazzy, but timeless to listen to.
I used to hate getting up early at the break of day to go to work, but once out of the house it usually transformed into a positive experience, as the clarity and cleanness of this time of day was always pristine in its presentation, a bit like this piece from the artist called Morning Dew.
The track Conversations picks up the tempo and with a skip in the step we can thoroughly enjoy the gifted performance that has a little emotional hint to it as well.
We now move gently into welcoming arms of this next composition called Distant Land, this would be a favourite of mine, Nimoh creates a sense of ambience here that is simply sublime.
Don’t Be Discouraged is up next; this is that moment of being uplifted I talked about much earlier. Gentle and confident, this is a piece that would lift the spirits of any dull day.
I like listening to short form compositions; it is interesting for me to see just how much the artist can paint into such a short time scale, on Happy Ending, we have a track that literally glistens with a sun kissed reverie and all in around the 80 second mark!
His Plans Are Sure touches a little deeper pool in this musical lake entitled Conversations On Piano. The energies here are moving yes, but also with a sense of aged wisdom laid into the arrangement, one with such style and cleverness.
The sun now streams in through my studio window, a few clouds drift past to say hello as I move into the next piece called Like Yesterday. For a moment I was transported back through the years to new age performers like Mike Rowland and David Sun, as we are gifted a wonderfully tranquil and quite beautiful healing opus.
Now we knock at the door of the shortest piece off the release called Peaceful Melody. Nimoh delivers us a soothing narrative of solo piano that manifests a calm motif and one that creates a segway into the composition called Silent Prayers. This is a really sparkling performance and one that has a lush night time feeling to its arrangement, but a charming moment of musical magic can be spent here in the company of this amazing song.
As we move ever deeper into the darker layers of this dimension of solo piano, we come across a piece called Solitude. Once more the ambience that Nimoh has created here is vast, but also manifested with a gentleness that glows like a beacon in the night.
Sunday mornings are always a rich tapestry on which you will find many opportunities to come across musical ideas. Nimoh has done just that with this quite brilliant piece called Sunday Morning Pondering, and this Sunday I am going to feature this in my meditative musings on my balcony, with a cup of tea and watching the sun beams bounce across the cadence of the day.
There is always a Time For Change, and on the track with that title, you can feel the honesty and integrity in the arrangement, a performance played from the heart to the heart, in a moment of solo piano that was deeply felt.
The short form piece Where We Are is now upon us, and carries on the tranquil and serene nature of this album with ease, one that allows us to drift perfectly into the following arrangement entitled Who’s There, which in fact has a layer of emotion in it that is very touching indeed, one played with such sensitivity and tenderness.
The depth of tone in this next offering is wonderful and again warm to hear and feel all around you and of course called Not Alone. In a similar way to the earlier I Am With You track, this mirrors the energy of that composition and delivers a piece of mutual musical kindness; I could also hear myself singing lyrics to this as well.
We are fast approaching the end of the album, and Searching For Answers is up now, the performance here is a little more up tempo and has an energy of the search perfectly, the faster pace allows for a little hint of apprehension as the seeking begins.
The penultimate piece on the album is up now, on this next song you will find a soothing layer of warmth; the track is called I Am With You. The performance here is so reassuring and resembles an arm around the shoulder, in the musical sense of things.
We finish though with a masterful composition called Who Will Go. Joseph Nimoh does himself proud here by leaving this splendid collection of solo piano works with the most confident and fluent composition off the release, one has to say what a stunningly fluent way to end the album with indeed.
Conversations On Piano by Joseph Nimoh, is an album that has all the tranquil and confident hallmarks of being a memorable solo piano album for decades. Nimoh’s masterful and proud performances will entertain you, sooth your day or maybe like me, make your afternoon a little brighter and fulfilled, it is an album that you will revel in and be able to ease back and float in the smoothness of each pristine performance with a sublime ease.
Rating: Excellent
Guide Me by Samer Fanek
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 2/6/2019
Something we can all relate to
Samer Fanek is back with a new album entitled Guide Me, hot on the heels of his amazing success of 2016 with the release of his debut album Wishful Thinking. Fanek is a consummate performer; his style on the keys has a certain dramatic flair that is really enjoyable, so let’s once more take a musical voyage with this new album.
So, how do you start an album of masterful piano with instrumentation? You start with a track that has passion, power and a sense of grandeur like the starting offering entitled Grand Opening, a composition that will have you wanting to stand and applaud at its conclusion.
Fanek also has a sensitive style to his performance structure as well; you can hear this on the composition called Long Time Ago. There is a soft but redolent charm about this one which is very appealing; it manifests a deep and reflective mood. Fanek has created a feeling of memory, a segway between a sad reflection of past happiness, which for some reason has now passed, but still creates a loving tone to his new creation.
There is a certain continuance of energy on this next piece called Newborn, but this is one to really pay attention to, while the start may sound tentative, the energy, build and construction continues to grow. Apart from his genius on piano, there is a soft and flowing backdrop of synths here to admire as well. This composition is very well named; one truly feels like they are sampling the essence of something new, fresh and very exhilarating.
Now You See Me is up next; here you will find a flowing narrative of piano that wends its way around the hall ways of our musical minds. There is a beautiful fluency about this piece that creates such a charming narrative of tone. The mixture of keyboards and piano work so well here and manifest an offering that flows so wonderfully, creating a tranquil yet driving energy, one that literally bursts into a crescendo of excitement three quarters into the arrangement.
This is the part of an album that I adore, it is the title track, and of course we are at the doorway marked Guide Me. Some have said that Fanek is one of the best young piano performers of his day, and here on this piece you will see why. Listen to his stunning performance on piano, the intensity of style here is truly dramatic and extremely powerful to witness, the continual onward energy just seems to increase, and the passion within the performance is so empowering.
We now drift over the half way line of the album and as we do so we come across a gentle offering entitled Guardian. Fanek has really taken his time with this one and manifested a piece that truly has a sense of confidence and security about its build and construction, but there is also a layer of sensitivity about this one that is deeply moving to listen to as well, this is a true feel good piece for us all to enjoy.
This is the time of day I used to rise and go to work in, as I had to start at 5am in the morning and Before Dawn, while those days are long gone, I still have fond memories from this truly beautiful moment of first light. Samer Fanek has set his goal here perhaps of creating a piece that is redolent of the subject matter and I’m glad to say he completely succeeds, that gentle and peaceful vibe is there that only early morning can give, but also a sense of reassurance that life is about to be lived all over again, and all is as it should be.
One of my personal favourites of this amazing new release would be this offering called Chasing Time, something that is impossible perhaps, but the artist has manifested a flair for the multi instrumental nature of performance and brings us a driven, powerful opus with percussion, piano and keyboards; contemporary instrumental music genre can only be a better place with compositions like this within it.
As we move into the deeper waters of the album we come across a real merge of styles, one that has a sense of the classical blended with the new age and the contemporary instrumental genre, all that and more can be found in the piece For Lila. One could think that Fanek is even treading into the world of movie sound track music with this fine offering.
It seems amazing that I now stand before the threshold of the penultimate track off the album; it is called Sense of Purpose. No matter how long you live, or how old you are, this is something we all need to have; this has to be one of the most driven pieces off the release, it has a beautifully exciting energy about its construction, one that will have you playing it over and again many, many times.
We now finish with the arrangement called Back to Hometown. I noticed that Fanek sites one of his inspirations as my neighbour David Lanz, here you can see why; there is an element of David’s energy on this piece, the fluency and soft approach, one that is stylishly confident and extremely professional. I loved this end offering and salute the artist for leaving a dramatic album with such style and class.
Guide Me is Samer Fanek’s second album, and in my view his best work so far, on this release the artist has clearly taken life’s best shots, and from these moments of growth, created something in music we can all relate to. Guide Me is an album rich in a dramatic style and ever abundant in the flair and passion department, however it also has some of the most charming and reflective compositions I have heard so far from the artist, and thus doing so, created a perfectly balance album for us all to revel in. This is an album I find easy to recommend.
Rating: Excellent
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