2015 / Silent Wing Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
Journey Home is the debut recording by solo acoustic guitarist Raphael Groten. Produced by Will Ackerman and recorded at Imaginary Road Studio on Ackerman’s own guitars, this gentle album was created as an offering to those who wish to “Journey Home” within. In Ackerman’s words: “Raphael Groten’s music is an exercise in grace and ease. He’s not out to impress you and he’s not in a hurry. His music beguiles. He creates spaces into which one falls fully and gratefully. Raphael paints pictures of peace and contemplation and creates musical worlds that one longs to visit.” I couldn’t have said it better! The fourteen tracks are spacious and heartfelt, soothing the mind and spirit with each stroke of the guitar strings. Beautifully engineered and mastered by Tom Eaton, the guitar sound is clear and clean, but never harsh. A guitarist for more than thirty years, Groten’s debut is impressive and masterful with the elegance and simplicity of a musician who is at one with his music. This is a wonderful album for relaxation and renewal, and also works well as background music in a quiet setting.
Journey Home begins with “Sweetness,” a lovely piece that says as much with the spaces between the notes as it does with the notes themselves. Relaxed and soft-spoken, it sets the mood for the album, which is consistently quiet and easy-going. “Black River” is also very smooth and calm with freely-changing tempos and a dreamy feel. “Journey Home Awakening” is sometimes melodic, but is mostly on the ambient side with graceful open spaces between many of the musical thoughts. If possible, “Journey Home Breath” is even more open, expressing musical thoughts freely and spontaneously - almost conversationally. “Journey Home Echoes” is one of the most subtle tracks of the album, perhaps expressing how a guitar whispers. “Journey Home Arrival" has the feeling of completion and resolution yet retains the quiet charm of the previous tracks. “Grandpa’s Hands,” while remaining in the quiet mode, tells a story that overflows with love and reflection. More melodic than the other tracks, it also has occasional “percussive” effects played on the body of the guitar. The gently-flowing “Be” spills over with warmth and encouragement, and is a bit livelier than most of the other tracks - a favorite. The album closes with a shorter reprise of the opening “Sweetness.”
Journey Home is a wonderful introduction to Raphael Groten and his music! The album is available from CD Baby and iTunes. Recommended!
December 8, 2015