Friday, June 3, 2022

Album Review: Gone Beyond by Donna De Lory

Review by Lissette Cascante
Singer, songwriter, arranger, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Donna De Lory has established herself as a dominant, constantly evolving artist, whose extensive and varied musical portfolio includes such genres as pop, world, electronica, spiritual/devotional, and yoga/relaxation music. Growing up in a musical family, De Lory is a veteran of the music industry, having crisscrossed the globe many times between 1987 and 2006 as a touring back-up vocalist and dancer for Madonna. Her voice has been featured on countless recordings of renowned and award-winning artists.

It was her inner voice, however, that lead Donna to embrace a more spiritual side of music and to release numerous albums in the genre throughout the 2000s to critical acclaim. Being a follower and practitioner of Hindu traditions and drawing from the infinite supply of the divine for inspiration, Donna creates harmonic prayers, mantras and chants that resonate with hearts and souls around the world, promoting wellness, healing, mindfulness, peace, and tranquility. To quote the artist “Now, more than ever, I feel like we have to go within and find heaven inside ourselves, so that we have the peace and strength to stay positive, despite everything that’s going on in the world, and make a difference.“ Her most recent album, Gone Beyond, is her 17th solo recording. All songs on the album were written and produced by Donna De Lory and were inspired during pandemic isolation.

The first track, “So Hum/Breathing In” serves as a gentle guide into stress-relieving breathwork, ushering the listener to a place of calmness and focus. The phrase So Hum is a Hindu mantra which in Sanskrit literally means “I am that” implying our interconnectedness with all that is, or the Universe. Perfect for centering oneself; whether on a quick break in the middle of a busy day, or in a meditation or yoga practice. This sweet melody is comprised of repetitive mantras wrapped in Donna’s soothing layered vocal harmonies, accompanied by piano, Pedal Steel and electric guitars, and singing bowls.

“Ma Song” was inspired by Jennifer Berezen’s popular mantra/chant "Returning". An emotive call to our “mother”, the source of our being. This track features Donna De Lory’s vocals and harmonium, beautifully accompanied by Piano, Guitar, Strings, Tabla, Bass and Cello. “Forgiveness Prayer” is probably my favorite track on the album. A sense of being lifted up and floating to a higher place where walls of pride, bitterness and strife crumble and give way to refreshing waters of love, forgiveness and healing. The vocals are transporting and beyond sublime in this piece. The cello adds a melancholy tone and the electric guitar an ethereal, vibrational experience.

The continuous flow of each track on Gone Beyond makes this album a perfect companion for a meditation and/or yoga practice, regardless of your spiritual persuasion. “I wanted to make a record that would be good for so many different experiences,” says Donna. “Yoga class, standing on top of a mountain, sacred ceremonies, healing....” It’s an expansive listening experience which conveys a quiet, holistic wisdom uncommon in today’s chaotic culture. Calmness and centeredness are the intrinsic elements in each track which I found to elevate beyond the physical sphere, helping to bring the mind, body, and spirit into true alignment.

“Om Gate Gate Paragate” with apropos meaning of “Gone, Gone, Gone beyond Gone utterly beyond” is a powerful message and teaching in Hindu tradition. A sense of liberation and self-empowerment permeates this entrancing track. While “Mary Meditation” takes the listener into a sanctuary of sound, with high and deep vocals floating on a backdrop of shamanic-like drumming. Another favorite track of mine is “Where I Find You”. I love the piano in this track.

“Asatoma Sadgamaya” is based on a mantra to the Universe for enlightenment and freedom from fear. This mantra song is beautifully adorned in rich vocal harmonies, strings, bass, guitar, and drum. The final track “Unbreakable” really brings out the sublime beauty of Donna’s voice and her talent for creating gorgeous heavenly melodies and poignant lyrics. Indeed, Donna’s striking vocals, the music she intones, and her artistic creativity really shine throughout this album. We end our session with a fuller sense of being present, and better clarity of mind and purpose, but mostly grateful to be able to enjoy this otherworldly sensory experience.  

~Lissette Cascante for Auralscapes 

For more information please visit the artist's website. Gone Beyond is also available at Amazon, iTunes, and more. 

Album Review: Oracle of Delphi by Rusty Crutcher

Review by Candice Michelle

Composer and Multi-instrumentalist Rusty Crutcher has been producing and releasing music on his own artist-owned label, Emerald Green Sound Productions, since 1987. Having released seven albums in his historical/mythical-themed Sacred Sites Series, Oracle of Delphi is the latest installment inspired by Crutcher’s exciting travels to sacred sites throughout the world.

As the album title suggests, Oracle of Delphi takes the listener’s mind on a journey to a glorious mystical place in Greece’s ancient past – Delphi, a sacred precinct that served as the seat of the oracle, Pythia, who was consulted by people throughout the Mediterranean and beyond.

Comprised of ten compositions spanning just under an hour, the album seemingly guides us through shadowy portals and watery corridors that are perfectly illustrated by minimalist neoclassical and symphonic ambient vistas.

We sail away to an enchanted land with the dreamily foreboding opening piece, “Miriam’s Wish”, which is characterized by an understated orchestration of synths, strings, chimes and woodwinds.

The third track, “Aegean Reflections”, is one of my favorites, pleasantly recalling the album Journey to Atlantis by Llewellyn and Kevin Kendle. Here an ethereal coalescence of flowing strings, siren-like vocals and pulsating rhythmic undercurrent paint tranquil mental images of a mythical undersea kingdom.

The fifth track, “Apollo Awakens”, is another highlight that perhaps suggests a misty sea voyage amid towering mounting cliffs with its haunting duduk, eerie timbres and glistening bell tones conveying exploration and mystery.

The seventh track, “Pythia’s Trance”, is especially noteworthy for its earthy touch and hypnotic mood on which delicate panpipe and melodic percussion evoke veiled forest imagery.

If you enjoy fantasy film scores and video game soundtracks – and Greek mythology in particular – Oracle of Delphi provides a great musical companion for nighttime listening by candlelight or while reading an exciting novel.

~Candice Michelle for Auralscapes 

For more information please visit the artist's website. Oracle of Delphi is also available at Amazon, iTunes, and more.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Album Review: Reflection by Lynn Tredeau

Review by Marilyn Torres

The opening track for Lynn Tredeau’s latest solo piano album, Reflection, titled “Tide Pools”, swells with emotion as its repetitive cadence softly rises and levels off into the finale.

The second track, “Someday, Somehow”, along with other pieces like “The Passing of Time” and “The Road to There”, bring a clean and wishful air similar to the effect after a rain shower.

Tracks like “What the Rain Said” and “Washed Away” convey the overall perception of having traveled from the mountain top through woodland and into a waterway, while other pieces such as “Meandering” and “Nomad” are infused with the Erik Satie style as “droplets” of keys trickle down to cover musical ground.

Halfway through listening to the evocative “Dreaming Tree”, I realized it reminded me of the Jan A.P. Kaczmarek’s score for the film Unfaithful, with its melancholy and otherworldly quality. 

“Aspens of Targhee Mountain” pays homage to the album’s main title by offering the listener a slow and reflective melody that is both calm and full of possibility, while “Deep in the Forest” gives the sense of making one’s way through dense foliage at first slowly, but then picking up pace with determination and a steady stride.

The closing track, “Celebration”, paints a picture of happiness and movement with the piano keeping a steady, almost ballerina-step in major keys.

With this project, Tredeau has indeed captured the essence of reflection; reflecting on one's life, reflecting on a journey, or reflecting on what is yet to be discovered. As a prolific artist, she shows us how, in stillness and deep thought there is also forward movement and energy.     

~Marilyn Torres for Auralscapes 

For more information please visit the artist's website. Reflection is also available at Amazon, Bandcamp, and more.