This is the best new CD I’ve received for review this year. Speir’s music is classified as “acoustic-ambient,” but I’d rather think of it as neo-impressionism because it’s produced with acoustic instruments. Tones and chord clusters float peacefully through the arrangements and give a sense of inner solace.

The title is paraphrased from a line in a poem by Thomas Hardy, and some song titles were inspired by it.

The album begins with “Hued Embowment”, a piece that combines piano and strings. It evokes a sense of spaciousness like the inside of an empty, sunlit cathedral. Track 2 “As We Turn” combines guitar and piano in a more rhythmic and energetic combination. “Good Seasons” is another wonderful guitar track. In track 4 “A Taste of Solace” the piano leads with bits of tone and melody that are perfectly merged with the guitar. This song just floats. Track 5 “Open Ranges” includes a winsome duet between piano and harmonica.

Track 6 “Passing Charcoal Clouds” is a piano-string combination that expands and opens the mind. “Serenity in this House” is a delicate, lacy combination of tones and chord clusters produced with bells, piano, and guitar. Track 8 “Praxis” incorporates a nylon-string guitar with Native American wood flute. Light rhythms were created by gently striking the fretboard of a cello – a truly amazing effect.

The final two tracks are the longest, providing time for greater development of the sounds. “Familiar Orbits” combines piano with singing bowls, cello, and a synth string drone. “Breathing on the Shore” is performed with piano, strings, and singing bowls. Both songs evoke pastoral peace, a connection with nature, and s feeling of soul security.

The combination of instruments as well as the artful merging of tones, chords, and effects makes this a superb album for spiritual and healing purposes. The music is contemplative and uplifting, and helps the listener “feel more at one with things.” It really does! Superb - very highly recommended!

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Artist: Nathan Speir
Nathan Speir, 2017
10 tracks, 55 min.
MP3 download $9.49 (Amazon)

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