Echoes of Love
2012 / Real Music
Review by Michael Debbage
Omar’s last two releases have been nothing short of impeccable that to expect our listening pleasures to be quenched a third time would be really pushing the expectation boundaries. Well, it appears that during the last three years Omar has propelled himself into the upper stratosphere of high creativity continuing to finalize his very unique musical voice. His effortlessly musical saga continues to integrate World Themes seamlessly with elements of Smooth Jazz and commercial New Age nuances that made the genre a success to begin with. Needless to say Echoes Of Love is a lush and vivid album that is without a doubt Omar’s most complete album to date.
The vast majority of the album is soaked in exotic ethnic instrumentation courtesy of Brian Kilogore as well as the Indian bongos called the Tabla courtesy of Melad Youssofi. Add Charlie Bisharat’s violin, Mark Hollingsworth’s flute as well as the gentle guitar work of Ramon Stagnaro then you have a true band to work with. Drench it in the songwriting and performance of Akram and producer/performer Gregg Karukas then you have all the ingredients of a slow low heat that ferments into a sweet intoxicating exotic musical escapade of romanticism.
The music is largely at a mid-tempo pace with no super stellar standouts like the prior album’s “Run Away With Me”. However there is absolutely no dip in quality throughout the entire album. Not one single second of the forty nine minutes is misused with every song hitting all of its cues that every distinct note appears to be perfectly placed. In fact the album’s closest musical cousin to the aforementioned comes courtesy of the lively and accessible “Free Spirit” which focuses on Akram’s piano that also flirts with Bisharat’s violin and Stagnaro’s smooth guitar. It is bookended by probably the album’s two mellowest compositions. On the front end there is the slow simmer of “Draw Me Close” while on the backend of “Free Spirit” you will find one the album’s more reflective moments found in the simple but elegant “My Hope Is You”. Here Akram’s graceful piano work with Bisharat’s more conservative violin performance makes for a match in musical heaven.
Closing out with the totally stripped down piano performance found on “Merry”, Echoes Of Love through its entire 49 minutes never lets you down as a listener. Simply put, Omar Akram has now made three albums in a row that are immaculate it is performance but never calculated, but by the contrary sensationally inspiring.
November 11, 2012