November 22, 2012

CD Review: Winthrop siblings make a worthy venture into New Age

Instrumental arrangements exquisitely tell the story of each song title.


New Age music's effect can be either a schmaltzy adventure or a true letting loose of spirit. Happily, Northern Sojourn resides in the latter category with its new self-titled CD.

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PRODUCED BY: Richard Blanchard

★★★ 1/2

Based on a four-star scale

Northern Sojourn is a musical group from Winthrop comprised of siblings Janet (piano and main composer), Richard and Daniel Blanchard (additional composition and arrangement, keyboards, voices and percussion), and guest violinist Josh Smith.

In true New Age style, none of the tracks feature a lead vocal, but none are needed, as instrumental arrangements exquisitely tell the story of each song title.

The lead-off track, "Reflections of Heaven," is a beautiful opener. The composition on the whole is not grandiose; instead it is a humble effort, and the piano melody is graceful and patient. The listener, no matter if they believe in a heaven or not, will understand the delight and passion the composer articulates.

"Lanterns of Light" makes a small turn into a playful, lively piano melody, revealing maybe a little bit of a mischievous spirit that's yet hopeful and introspective. The percussion keeps the listener tuned to an impending story -- maybe one of mystery and desire to go forward, to satisfy a thirst of the unknown. The lush voices, so subtlely tucked back in the mix, add a sense of peace and tranquility.

Transfixing beats and arousing piano highlight "Evoking the Goddess," with a slight turn into a Middle Eastern feel. "Forest Primeval" spotlights the bewitching interplay between violin and piano as each takes its turn to tell the story.

"Northern Sojourn" is an album intended to entice and seduce, to bring the listener on a journey. Yet, at the heart of it, a peace resides and envelops you like a blanket of warmth.

It is the best place in which to lose yourself, and then find yourself again.

Kristin DiCara-McClellan is a freelance writer.


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