Randal L Meek
2022 / Randal L Meek
Review by Kathy Parsons
Technically, longings isn't Randal L Meek's first album, but it's his first major release. Recorded at Imaginary Road Studios and produced by Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton, this is the work of a seasoned artist at the top of his game. Although Randal had dreamed of becoming a professional musician from the time he was ten, the reality of the difficulties of a music career put those dreams on hold while he built a successful law practice. However, he never lost sight of his dreams and never stopped composing music or playing his guitars. As so often happens, turning 60 (in 2018) was a bit of a wake-up call, and Randal released his first album of songs and instrumentals called Life On the Deck that same year. 5 million streams on Spotify and a lot of positive feedback from fellow guitarists showed that there was, indeed, plenty of reason to go forward with a professional music career while continuing his law practice. Long story short, Randal submitted two YouTube videos to Will Ackerman, a longtime hero, who invited him to Imaginary Road to record an album once it was safe to travel. The recording happened in June 2021.
The thirteen original tracks on longings have a gentle, reflective flow that is both soothing and intensely personal. Most of the tracks include one or more of the musicians often featured in Ackerman/Eaton productions: Will Ackerman (lead guitar on four tracks), Tom Eaton (piano and bass), Charlie Bisharat (violin), Eugene Friesen (cello), and Noah Wilding (vocalizations). Splitting his time between Maui and Colorado, much of Randal's music was inspired by very different landscapes and wildlife. In his own words: "This album is about feelings, emotions and loss, but with hope of a life ahead always just around the corner." I've reviewed quite a few acoustic guitar albums lately, but this one is a favorite!
longings begins with "Waves of Makena," a piece composed on a lanai overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the beaches of Makena, Maui. The music emulates the sound of the waves as they rise and fall. Much of the piece is solo guitar, but Eaton's piano here and there is a wonderful addition - a very compelling start! Bisharat adds his beautifully soulful violin to the heartbreaking "Goodbye." "Mo'olio Place" includes Ackerman on lead guitar along with cello (Friesen) and bass (Eaton). This serene and soothing piece was composed the first night Meek spent in his new home on "Mo'olio Place" on Maui. A guitar solo, "Ice Tulip" was inspired by a solitary tulip standing in Meek's front yard in the snow. It was also the first piece Meek submitted to Will Ackerman. Composed while sitting on the edge of a red rock formation in Utah, "Desert Cathedrals" is a warm and peaceful guitar and violin duet - soothing and gently uplifting. The title track, for guitar and cello, expresses so much more than words ever could. Quoting the liner notes of the album: "What I wouldn't give for just one more day, one more smile, one more touch." Beautifully expressed, the cello adds its own special voice to the music. "Liliko'i" is a blissful acoustic guitar duet with Will Ackerman. The title refers to passion fruit, one of Randal's favorite finds on Maui for its "ultimate blend of sweet and tart!" and the music is smooth and relaxed, bringing this outstanding album to a close.
longings is a truly exceptional album and I'm so pleased that it is my first album to review in 2022! It is available to buy as a download or a CD on Randal L Meek's website and Amazon, to download or stream on Apple Music/iTunes, and to stream from Spotify and other sites. Very highly recommended!
January 4, 2022