Thursday, September 30, 2021

Album Review: The Winding Way by Peter Sterling

Review by Lissette Cascante 

The unique and calming sounds of the harp are again masterfully presented in acclaimed harpist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, visual artist, author, and producer Peter Sterling’s latest album The Winding Way. Peter began playing the piano at age 6. Life took Peter in many directions, distracting him from his authentic purpose, but eventually as he listened more closely to the yearnings of his heart, he was drawn to the Celtic harp and the healing arts. Peter embraced his true calling and in 1994, he released his first album Harp Magic with instant success. Since then, his music has garnered many accolades and awards, and spanned both the global plain as well as the “heavenly realms” through airplay on international platforms such as Pandora, SiriusXM and Soundscapes, and on major airlines. 

Composed & produced by Peter Sterling for Harp Magic Music (BMI), The Winding Way is the product of a year’s worth of work; isolated from the world during the lockdowns, Peter reached deep into his heart and soul to bring forth a loving and beautiful compilation of divinely inspired compositions designed to help bring peace and healing to a hurting world.

As we listen to his songs and learn about Peter’s amazing life journey, we can definitively conclude that the title of the album was consciously selected. For as Peter states, “life… is a meandering journey down the Winding Way with many unexpected twists and turns along the path to the destination of our hopes and dreams.”

The poignant titles and songs such as “Deep Dive”, “Calling Angels”, “Along the Way”, “Every Which Way”, “Hope for Tomorrow”, and “A Love That Lasts” seem to diffuse a sense of tranquility and a knowing for our life’s journey; evoking the calm assurance that no matter the outer circumstances, our innermost being can stand strong in the face of adversity on the foundations of love, hope and peace; the essence of who we are as spiritual beings having a human experience.

Ornamented with wordless, Enya-style vocals throughout, pieces like “Beauty Abounds”, “Clouds and Sky”, “Rose Petal Tea”, “The Noble Night”, and “The Elven Queen” take the listener through a rhapsody of the senses to a world of natural wonders and Celtic fantasia. 

Peter Plays a custom-made Lyon and Healy electric Troubadour Harp. Additionally, he plays keyboards, percussion, free-note chimes, and contributes vocals on the album, while G. Dov Gertzweig supports with violin, Richard Hardy on silver and bamboo flutes, and Hans Christian on the Cello. The album was mastered by Eric Boulanger at The Bakery Sony studios in Culver City.

If you like the ethereal timelessness of the late, great Hillary Stagg, as I do, you will find Peter’s angelic harp artistry similarly enthralling, transporting, and elevating. Plug it in to study by, or to meditate, sleep or just anytime to set the right ambience to recharge your reserves and refocus your energy. Empty your mind of all the clutter and let The Winding Way help guide you to that beautiful place of calm assurance.

~Lissette Cascante for Aural Awakenings 

For more information, please visit Peter Sterling's website. The Winding Way is also available at Amazon, Apple Music and more.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Aural Awakenings: Episode 48

A refreshing 2-hour blend of new age, world & contemporary instrumental music! (Photo credit: Tim Kuret Photography.)

0:00:00 / Shunia / Har Har Mukanday / Ascend
0:05:30 / Kelly Andrew / Humanity / Revelation
0:09:58 / Wouter Kellerman & David Arkenstone / A New World / Pangaea
0:14:07 / Peter Sterling / Beauty Abounds / The Winding Way
0:17:58 / Jill Haley / Vista at Valles Caldera / The Canyons and Mesas of Bandelier
0:23:32 / Carl Weingarten / What the Raindrop Saw / Ember Days
0:29:03 / Stephen Edwards / Midnight Fear “Jen’s Theme” / Piano Music from Movies You’ve Probably Never Seen
0:32:03 / Michael Whalen / Lights of Home / Future Shock
0:37:09 / AO Music / Little Watchers / Kutumba
0:47:33 / 2002 / Rainbow Cove / Hummingbird
0:47:05 / Bill Leslie / Golden Eagle / Celtic Peace
0:50:30 / Jeff Johnson & Phil Keaggy / Mosaic 1 / Ravenna
0:57:22 / Rick Sparks / Bella / Bella
1:01:29 / Darlene Koldenhoven / Delphi’s Dream / The Grand Piano Spa
1:05:36 / Album Spotlight: Heart Awakening by Shambhu
1:06:43 / Shambhu / Infinite Eyes / Heart Awakening
1:11:05 / Johannes Linstead / In the Stillness of Love / Bohemian Strings
1:15:15 / Mediaeval Baebes / Domine Lesu / Prayers of the Rosary
1:18:44 / Kristen Miller / Meeting God in Heavy Boots / Cello Journeys
1:22:08 / Josefine & Trine Opsahl / Picking Flowers / The Infinite Between Us
1:26:45 / Deuter / Evening Gratitude / Song of the Last Tree
1:34:27 / Dallas David Ochoa / Cliff House / If These Walls
1:37:34 / Ciro Hurtado / Camino / Luna
1:41:36 / Ann Sweeten / Turning the Page / Change is the Wind
1:45:50 / Holland Phillips / Lights Off / Eleven After Midnight
1:48:55 / Lia Scallon / Tibetan Skygods / Return of the Star Elders

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Album Review: Heart Awakening by Shambhu

Review by Abdul Yamani 

Acclaimed jazz guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, and composer Shambhu (pronounced 'SHOHM-boo') has an impressive background in diverse styles and genres, and an extensive list of big-name collaborations. He worked with Grammy winning record producer Will Ackerman on his 2010 debut album, Sacred Love, which topped New Age music charts, and has recorded with the likes of Carlos Santana, Jeff Oster, Whitney Houston, Paul McCandless, Michael Manring, Frank Martin, Premik Russell Tubbs, and Todd Boston, just to name a few.

Shambhu’s 5th album Heart Awakening (Soothing Guitar for a Peaceful World) released on his birthday anniversary, May 31st, 2021, in the New Age, Jazz and Contemporary Instrumental genres once again demonstrates his high level of skill, precision, smoothness and mastery of the guitar. The album’s easy flow comes from his desire as he puts it “to uplift, center, and ground” the listener with music which conveys a peace much needed in these uncertain times. With a unique and powerful method of combining music and the meditation practice, Shambhu mindfully allows his intuition to guide his musical creations. In past interviews Shambhu has shared that he visualizes beautiful places which he’s visited that have inspired him. He explains that when he closes his eyes, he tries to feel the essence of the spirit allowing it to flow through him so that he can pass that feeling on to his listeners and they too can visualize what those places felt like for him.

The title track opens the album with Shambhu’s tranquil acoustic guitar illuminating our way to a serene place within. Refreshingly rustic, I felt the calmness of the piece speaks to the listening heart encouraging the soul to awaken to new possibilities.

The second track “Infinite Eyes” features talented musicians Geoffrey Menin on piano, and Matteo Palmer on electric guitar with Shambhu playing both acoustic and electric guitars, bass, and e-sitar. It’s a vibrant musical symphony with variations of audible and visual interest which seem to effectively harmonize the mind, body, and spirit.

“Preparing for flight” takes on a jazzier style and tempo encouraging movement, playfulness, and soulful adventure. This piece features a variety of fun instruments such as marimba, flute, alto sax, teamed up with piano, guitars, drums, and percussion.

“Little B’s Poem” with its capturing piano-led melody complemented with Shambhu’s electric guitar and bass in a lovely sequence has a jazz flair that I really like.

Sax and acoustic guitar are paired exquisitely on the album’s last track, “Song for You”. Tubbs’ saxophone shines on this cheery duet for guitar and sax, a special gift to every listener in a gesture of friendship. This ingenious album provides an uplifting listening experience lighting a path to renewed hope and joy.

~Abdul Yamani for Aural Awakenings 

For more information, please visit Shambhu's website. Heart Awakening is also available at Amazon, Apple Music and more.