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Album Review: Traveling the Blissful Highway
Darlene Koldenhoven
Cover image of the album Traveling the Blissful Highway by Darlene Koldenhoven
Traveling the Blissful Highway
Darlene Koldenhoven
2022 / TimeArt Recordings
54 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
If ever there was a perfectly-titled album, Darlene Koldenhoven's Traveling the Blissful Highway is it! Darlene's previous two albums, The Grand Piano Spa and The Grand Piano Spa: Legacy, debuted on the Billboard Charts in the Top 10 (both were released in 2021). She has had several #1 albums on the Zone Music Reporter Worldwide Radio Charts, was given a Lifetime Achievement Award and is the first inductee into the Indie Music Hall of Fame. An award-winning composer/pianist/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist and so much more, Darlene is probably best-known for her soaring vocals on the Yanni, Live at the Acropolis PBS special, video and tour and as the tambourine-waving singing nun, music director and vocal coach in both of the Sister Act films with Whoopi Goldberg. On Traveling the Blissful Highway, Darlene composed, produced and engineered all of the music. She performs on keyboards, synth programming, background vocalese, spoken word, quartz singing bowls, rainstick, shaker, and native drum (not all at the same time!). Joining her are award-winning music luminaries that include Charlie Bisharat (violin), M.B. Gordy (percussion), Ron Korb (bansari, Irish, whistle and C flutes), and several others. The twelve tracks overflow with calming gentleness and warm optimism and are sure to brighten your spirit any time of day or night!

Traveling the Blissful Highway begins with the first single from the album, "Cheerful Mohana." Mohana is the name for the morning raga (or scale) in Indian culture and is known to to reduce anxiety, stabilize moods and blood pressure, and elevate a depressed state of mind. Bright and lively with an uplifting sparkle, the music features, keyboard, vocalese (no lyrics), flutes (Korb) and a variety of Indian instruments (Venugopala Raju). "Time Traveler" is much more ambient and was performed on synth and keyboards (Darlene). Very soothing and relaxing, it has an almost magical feeling sure to relieve stress and insomnia. "Jade Dreams" was inspired by a beautiful Japanese garden and features elegant flute and violin melodies played by Korb and Bisharat as well as gentle background vocalese. "Gentle Soul" is a wonderfully soothing trio for piano, violin and harp (Gayle Levant). I can actually feel stress leave my mind and body while listening to this one! I really like the title "Dot Calm"! This one features Darlene on keyboard, spoken word, quartz singing bowl and rainstick, and Joanne Lazzaro on flute and bass flute. Ambient and hypnotic, this one is also a real stress-reliever! "Tropical Chill" features Harry Kim on flugelhorn and Darlene on synth, keyboards and vocalese - warm, lazy and very inviting! "Osmium Glow" is a piece about transformation and refers specifically to Osmium crystals which are mined with platinum and transformed into gems that are harder and brighter than diamonds. This beautiful piece features Darlene on synth and keyboards as well as vocalese, Mike Miller (acoustic and electric guitars), Cathy Del Russo (oboe), Charlie Bisharat (violins) and M.B. Gordy (various percussion). The closing track, "Blissful Highway," is a soothing ambient piece that oozes sunshine and beautiful vistas - even if only in your mind! Darlene's keyboards create a warm and inviting duet with Mike Miller on electric guitar. What a great way to let go of all of the stress and chaos swirling all around us - even if only for an hour! It's a wonderful and healing escape!

Traveling the Blissful Highway is available from Amazon, Apple/iTunes and many streaming sites, including Spotify. You can CDs (a download is included!) on Bandcamp for just $5 until 10/20/22! Very highly recommended!
August 3, 2022
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