Purchased through Shira Kammen's Magnatune.com listing. Downloaded as a collection of oggs. First listen was burned to CD, and then taken on a walk. Second listen was via Amarok while reading at home.
When trying to think up pithy words to describe Shira Kammen's Music of Waters, some of the first terms that occurred to me were "RPG soundtrack", "for fans of fantasy", "Shire enactors", "relaxing about life while walking", "A soundtrack for enjoying nature", and even more complicated concepts like someone hanging out down by the river and pretending they are in a time in which things were much less complicated. Speaking of complicated, that sentence is too much so, because one of the main qualities I want to impress about this album is its quiet dignity and effective simplicity. This is an album about delightful and accessible musicianship.
It is subtitled, as "a celebration of the grand canyon and colorado river". According to a blurb on Kammen's homepage listing of her CDs, it was actually recorded in the Grand Canyon. The style, to my ears, is mostly Celtic with some other elements of folk added in here or there. Unlike some of the more, for lack of a better term, excited folk, the notes are given more time to breathe as opposed to tripping over one another. I am not complaining about songs that bounce one note off of the next, I am just saying that this album has notes that hold hands as opposed to slamming together.
I am unsure if the "celebration of the grand canyon" is in indication of any traditional American folk being used or not. If anything, the album seems to have more of an occasional Asian rather than American intonation, with some songs like "Frog Drums" and "Crotalus" maybe making me a liar. I am more of a appreciative fan than an analytical one, so rather than take my word for it, keep in mind the albums is 100% previewable over at the Music of Waters album page on Magnatune.
Now that my likely ineffective summation of the album is out of the way, I can bring up a few other details. It is largely an instrumental album with a few lyrical songs. The lyrical songs are pleasantly placed so that a single listen through you get one to help perk up the listening every quarter hour or so. Most of the songs are violin based, with easy saws and gentle rolls to help perk up the mood, but a few ("Deep Schist", with it's resonate drums, comes readily to mind) play off other instumentations for effect. Rarely does the album focus on more than maybe three instruments at once, allowing the musical character of each to stand out to the ear. It comes out to a little over 70 minutes, with an impressive 18 tracks. There is a lot of bang for this buck.
Again, this is a simple, effective album that makes for soul-lifting hour of music. Dedicated to water and open, quiet landscapes, it embraces the joy of these things in itself. It is cliche to describe such albums in such terms, sure, but what other terms are there for it? This is beautiful, relaxing music that makes me glad to have heard it. That is all I have.
My review for the album is Great. You can name your own price (half goes to the artist) at the aforementioned Magnatune page, download it for "free" as part of a Magnatune membership, or if you like physical disk in hand, you can buy it from CDBaby.com.
Written by W Doug Bolden
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