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Album Review: Love, Light, and Water
Michael Stribling
Cover image of the album Love, Light, and Water by Michael Stribling
Love, Light, and Water
Michael Stribling
2008 / Leela Music
60 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Love, Light, and Water is Michael Stribling’s fifth CD to date, and I think it’s his best work yet. Leela (“divine play”) Music’s mission is “to help others in their journey toward wholeness through the gift of music, by creating works that inspire and uplift the human spirit.” Stribling is not unique in this musical quest to soothe and heal, but one of the things that sets him apart from many of the other composers in this genre is that his music is not all sunshine and puffy clouds - he allows some of the darker and more pensive aspects of life into his music, which is a more realistic picture of the human experience. The music on this album is divided into three suites that “celebrate the hope and promise of new love, the energizing beauty of light, and the sustaining power of water.” Although the music is often quite orchestrated, Stribling creates all of his music himself on keyboards. Some of it is quite melodic, and other pieces are more ambient and atmospheric - all of it is very beautiful.

The first of the three suites is “Love.” The five tracks are dreamy, warm, and ethereal, and convey feelings of joy and contentment. “Dream Frontiers” feels like floating in deep space, completely relaxed and absorbing the light of the twinkling stars. “Pleasant Journeys” has an Asian flavor in some of its themes and expresses joy and fun. “Light” is the second suite, and begins with the dawning of a new day. “Sunrise” is a perfect portrait of the slowly spreading light of dawn and the awe-inspiring colors of the morning sky. “Bright Silence, Quiet Light” is cinematic in the fullness of its sound and yet is so very peaceful and calm. Horns can be jarring, but here they are tranquil and restful. “Behind Every Cloud” is my favorite track. Guitar plays a gentle rhythm that gives the piece movement while the other instrumentation is more abstract, floating, and freeform. Love it! “Water” has four movements. The quiet guitar rhythm on “Prairie Rain” describes rain while keyboards create an ambient, serene atmosphere with just a touch of mystery. “River Canyon” is more majestic. “Dancing On the Water” sparkles and shimmers on the surface, but has a darker flow behind that - again very ambient and peaceful. The last two pieces on the CD are not part of the suites, but are in no way out of place. “Quiet Conversation” has piano in the lead with keyboard washes for additional color and depth. The piece itself feels like a very intimate and personal conversation with someone special. At about the halfway point in the piece, the “speaker” shifts to keyboard, and then the “speakers” alternate - a true dialog and another favorite. “At the Gates” ends the album with an ambient piece that is full of hope and warmth.

Love, Light, and Water is music to really listen to and savor. If you use it for background music, expect to stop what you’re doing from time to time to focus on what Michael Stribling is saying with his music. Inspiring! The CD is available from leela-music.com, cdbaby.com, amazon.com, iTunes, and Digistation.com. Recommended! If the CD isn’t yet available at your chosen retailer, please keep trying - it’s on its way!
June 1, 2008
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