Cheryl B. Engelhardt
2020 / Cheryl B. Engelhardt
Review by Kathy Parsons
No stranger to the music industry, Cheryl B. Engelhardt’s first album in the new age/ambient genre, Luminary, was originally created to “sonically solve a decade-long battle with anxiety once and for all.” The music was composed and recorded during a two-week residency on the island of Crete with thirteen other women artists (painters, sculptors and photographers), and while there, Engelhardt found a stillness she hadn’t experienced in years - if ever. The album is comprised of ten original tracks that are about six minutes each. “Applying my own production style to raw, live vocal and piano recordings, Luminary was my way of crafting a solution to stay present and focused. I sat down each day to write a different song based on a single theme: that of attracting something, like love or abundance, or releasing something, like anxiety or negativity…. I quickly realized this record wasn’t just for me, but a gift to others who needed a catalyst for finding peace.” The album debuted as the #1 Best Seller on both Amazon and iTunes in the “New Age” category, and has more than 14 million users through the Simple Habit and Insight Timer meditation apps.
Most of the sounds on the recording were generated at the piano - playing the keys, plucking or strumming the strings, etc. - but there are also Engelhardt’s wordless vocals and sounds of her breathing, light bells, and various ambient and electronic effects. The moods and expression vary from one track to the next, but the album plays as a smooth, continuous musical experience that would likely be the most effective for meditation, journaling, calming background music while working, or just trying to make sense of the chaos that has been plaguing most of the world this year. Listening to just one of the tracks could be soothing, but the experience deepens and the music is much more effective through the course of the hour of listening time. There are no melodic lines or rhythm tracks - this is ambient music from start to finish. Created as “functional” music and designed to calm as well as to reduce anxiety and panic attacks, you won’t find yourself humming these pieces - but that was never the intention anyway. The titles are non-specific enough that it would be simple to apply your own “meanings” to the music. A few examples are “Earthshine,” “Mortal Tides,” “Moon Harvest” and “Glisten Up.” I have listened to many ambient albums over the past several years, but Luminary is unique in both its sound and its intention.
Luminary is available from Amazon, iTunes/Apple Music, Spotify and many other online retail and streaming outlets. There are a number of items related to the album (as well as the album itself!) at https://www.iamaluminary.com/thestore.
September 16, 2020