The Best of Diane Arkenstone
2005 / EverSound
Review by Michael Debbage
When you utter or whisper the name Arkenstone, musically the words synonymous with this name would be bold and beautiful. But one would normally associate this with the David of the Arkenstone clan. However, there is strong evidence here to suggest that Diane Arkenstone has already begun to create her own musical quest where synonyms such as bold and beautiful would not be out of place.
Apparently over the last few years Mrs. Arkenstone has been busy composing, performing and producing her own material. Her projects while closely tied to David have come under the project names of AhNeeMah, the Adventure Cargo series and even Diane’s own solo projects among other interesting endeavors. Her collaboration with EverSound attempts to bring all these under one roof and overall succeeds.
Intelligently, the album opens with the swirling and swooping synthesizers of “The Secret Garden” taken from her solo endeavor The Healing Spirit. The song is slow yet purposeful and includes a gorgeous seducing keyboard string arrangement with the emotive drums and percussion offering the composition its heartbeat. The cd booklet gives details of which album the songs were selected from and credits Diane as the composer of the music but there is no doubting David’s influence here. The same could be said for “The Grey Havens” pulled from the Middle Earth undertaking.
However, a more ethnic and worldly atmosphere can be heard on “Under The Blue Sky”, which brings to mind the bouncy Enya hit “Orinoco Flow”. The song also includes the vocals of Diane and while not quite as velvet as Enya, they do have a smooth calming effect upon the listener. This approach is revisited courtesy of her collaboration with EverSound’s John Adorney on “Om Shanti”. John reappears later on the elegant and graceful “All Is Bright” that is one of the albums many illuminating moments.
As for the AhNeeMah series, which explore Native American themes, they are well represented by the inclusion of several tracks. The most impressive one is “River Of Creation” captured from The Grand Circle album. This is a magnificent amalgamation of the native western world meeting the modern western world as flute and native drums convene with cinematic strings. Much the same can be said for the integrating themes found on “Precious Waters”.
Being bound so closely to the musical mastermind of David Arkenstone is probably both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that she has clearly inherited her husband’s musical ear. The curse is that she will ultimately be compared with her partner. Whether her licensing with EverSound was just a one shot deal is yet to be known, but it would behoove her to distance herself from David Arkenstone to show the world that she is a musical talent in her own right. Her collaborations with Adorney are even further indications that this has been a true statement for quite some time. Meanwhile, those of you that have not taken the opportunity to explore the music of Diane Arkenstone this is a great place to start.
May 5, 2005
with David Arkenstone
Review by Michael Debbage