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Album Review: Awakening
Stephen DeRuby
Cover image of the album Awakening by Stephen DeRuby
Stephen DeRuby
2013 / New Path Music
51 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Awakening is a warm, soothing collection of eleven original pieces by world flutist Stephen DeRuby. Influenced by a variety of musical cultures that include Asian and Middle Eastern genres, DeRuby performs on an assortment of his own hand-made flutes as well as guitar, Chinese harp, vocals, mandolin, keyboards, and kalimba. Several guest artists contribute sonic color and range on guitars, percussion, steel drum, dulcimer, vocals, and tabla. A certified Holistic Health Practitioner, DeRuby has dedicated his lifetime to music, the healing arts, and spiritual awareness. He has been practicing Yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, and Eastern philosophies since 1968 and has been playing various musical instruments since he was 13. Sometimes rhythmic and upbeat, sometimes more haunting and ethereal, everything about this music rings true, providing a 52-minute healing and relaxing respite from the hectic pace of everyday life.

Awakening begins with “Loving Kindness,” a hypnotic piece that features DeRuby on flute and guzheng (Chinese harp) and J. Arif Verner on guitar. Languid and free, it sets the tone of the album beautifully. “One With You” is quite different with vocals, flute, percussion, and guitar. Although not all of the lyrics are in English, it has an almost folksong feeling to it. The bright and lively “Pilgrimage” conveys movement and excitement - a favorite. “Body of Light” goes into a more Middle Eastern direction with strong but gentle rhythms that mesmerize as the flutes, guitar, mandolin, and viola cast their own magical spell. “Desert Star” continues the mystical enchantment, going a bit darker in tone as the rhythms hypnotize and soothe - also a favorite. The spirited “Freedom” captivates with an infectious energy and swirling motion. Flutes, guitar, percussion, and kalimba (an African instrument also known as the “thumb piano”) give this piece an earthy, joyous warmth. “Flow” moves slowly and freely without boundaries or restrictions. “Blessings,” a beautiful piece for flute, guitar, and percussion, closes the album. Smoothly flowing with a gentle, soothing touch, it’s a quiet ending to a very evocative musical exploration.

Awakening is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
June 24, 2013