Towards New Beginnings 2: Songs of Healing
2021 / Narked Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
Towards New Beginnings 2: Songs of Healing is the second in a series of albums from composer/guitarist/producer Matthew Shell. Like 2020's Towards New Beginnings, this album features Shell on electric guitar, pianist Vahagn Stepanyan and lead guitarist Sami Turunen along with an impressive list of guest artists. The relaxed, easy-going pace of the album has its roots in both the jazz and new age genres, while beautifully expressing the freedom and immediacy of jazz. Very easy to get lost in, the eleven instrumental tracks can gently slip into the background to add warmth and a peaceful vibe to any activities, but do your ears, heart and soul a favor and let the music wash over you and take you to a place of healing, positivity and optimism. Some of the music is somewhat ambient while other pieces have a strong groove that just make you feel good. Works for me!
Towards New Beginnings 2 begins with "Drifting Through Dreams" which features Douglas Lira (flute), Commoninterest and Erik Fredriksen. Soulful flute, guitars, percussion, piano and wordless vocals create a dreamy atmosphere and a beautiful start to the album. "Tribute" is mostly an electric guitar and piano trio, adding a muted trumpet (Josue Garcia Garcia) here and there to great effect - very heartfelt and soothing. "Faithful Until the End" is bliss set to music. Soaring vocalizations as well as gentle sax (Marcus Mitchell) and percussion are blended with the guitars and piano for a sweet and tender love song. "Soar" successfully combines a driving beat with quiet instrumentation in a piece that defies genres. Like its title, "Patience" is easy and unhurried - everything in its own time. "Heart of Love" is a gently-swaying slow dance that creates a mood of pure magic. Muted trumpet (Garcia) blends beautifully with Turunen's soulful guitar. Douglas Lira and his flute return on "Kindness," a gentle massage for the mind and spirit. You may have noticed that I haven't pointed out any favorites so far, and that's because I love 'em all, but if I had to choose just one, it would be "Life's Journey," with its varied themes, easy spirit and driving beat. "Joy" can sometimes suggest a giddy feeling, but the piece that bears that title reflects on the deeper joy that warms the soul and creates a lasting happiness. The piano and guitars on "Peace From Within" are about as tranquil as it gets. "Song of Healing" picks up the tempo a bit, adding sax, flute, bass and percussion to the guitars and piano. Sultry and soulful, it's the perfect close to a great album!
Towards New Beginnings 2: Songs of Healing is available for streaming and/downloads from many sites including Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and Spotify.
February 25, 2021
with Vahagn Stepanyan