This second CD by Woodlark was inspired by his former home in Albuquerque, NM, where he lived during his college years and after for over than a decade. The music reflects his experiences through those years.

Woodlark is a pianist who also plays percussion and guitar, and fills out the sound with synth horns, strings, and electronic keyboards. Guest musicians provide extra piano, cello and fiddle parts. This gives the music a nicely textured, rich ambience. There are twelve tracks on the album, and he sings on five of these. He has a pleasantly modulated, soft voice that shows to great advantage on Track 4: An Elephant’s Soul, a lovely ballad.

Piano takes the lead in most of songs, but there’s plenty of variety in tempo, texture, and compositional elements. Track 5: Legends of the Southwest leans toward a neo-classical piece with a distinctive string accompaniment that drives the song forward rhythmically. Track 7: Rainshine leans a bit toward space-ambient with a pulsing percussion and spacey synth in the background. Title Track 11: Mackland Ave is a pleasantly upbeat song that blends piano, New Age-type synth, and light background percussions. The final Track 12: Hey Vincent is a remix of Track 6 with piano rather than guitar accompaniment.

This is a sweet, easy-listening album that features a blend of instrumental and vocal pieces. The instrumental variety and layering provides sufficient variety to balance the ubiquitous piano. The piano is used as a harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic instrument, an important compositional detail showing that Woodlark has a good grasp of the range and potential of the instrument. This isn’t strictly a “New Age” album, per se, as it embodies lots of contemporary and emerging musical trends. It’s a successful album because Woodlark skillfully manages the varieties and textures presented through his compositions and the production values are excellent throughout the songs.

~Review by Elizabeth Hazel

Artist: Mike Woodlark
2019, 12 tracks
50:46 minutes, MP3 $9.49