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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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Songs For Luca 2 CD Cover
Image © Open Sky Records 2007

link to Songs For Luca artists
Moya Brennan
Dave Beegle
Joanne Hogg
Troy Donockley & Dave Bainbridge
Martyn Joseph
Soulful Terrain
Keith Baker
Phil Keaggy
Richard John Thompson
Debbie Bainbridge
Invisible Opera Company of Tibet
Nick Beggs
Chasing the Monsoon
Troy Donockley
Nick Fletcher
Rachel Taylor-Beales
Mostly Autumn
David Fitzgerald
Mae McKenna
Deborah Martin
Guillermo Cides & Emmett Chapman


(24 August 2008) The latest various artist project produced by Iona's Dave Bainbridge is a 30 track two-CD compilation entitled Songs For Luca 2 (Open Sky Records OPENVPCD998, 2008). As with Dave's earlier compilation Songs For Luca (review), proceeds from the album benefit The Son-Rise Program. The album again includes music by Iona, Joanne Hogg, Mae McKenna, Moya Brennan and members of the former Karnataka. It also introduces a series of exciting, and primarily female vocal fronted acts.

About The Son-Rise® Project, the Bainbridges say, "Imagine being in an environment where you feel completely safe and free to be yourself in a world where everywhere presents you with over-stimulation, endless confusing situations, body language, and speech - then imagine being totally accepted, respected and loved as you are now, having someone come into your world to expore with you."

They continue, "This is the amazing place and starting point that the Son-Rise® Program gives to Luca, along with strategies, tools for educating and inspiring. From this beautiful place we move on together exploring new things, always with Luca in control, at his pace. At last a place where he can begin to be inspired to have to reach out into our world (not to have to), to dare to try new things. A place where love is powerful and inspirational."

"The Son-Rise® Program we are using with Luca is parent-led and home-based in a special playroom. The money raised from the procdeeds of this album will go towards their invaluable support services, including home outreach visits, phone consulations, video feedback and their intensive week long course for all the family in the USA. Their approach is profoundly accepting and respectiful of Luca's dignity. It is gentle and non-judgemental, a world where having/serving children with special needs is an honour and a blessing," they conclude.

Songs For Luca 2 offers 140 minutes of highly varied music dominated by female vocalists and instrumental pieces. Accordingly it opens with a traditional Celtic ballad entitled "Eirigh Suas a Stoirin" sung by Moya Brennan, originally recorded by the artist with her own band. Dave Beegle follows with "Big Fish Rumba," an upbeat acoustic guitar instrumental from his album A Year Closer. Joanne Hogg's first lead vocal performance on the album is a stunning brand new version of "Journey into the Morn" featuring Roine Stolt (guitar), Heather Findlay (vocals), Dave Bainbridge (keyboard), Nick Beggs (bass), Frank van Essen (drums). Her vocal performance is perfectly complimented by robust progressive rock instrumental arrangements. Joanne also contributes a delightful new version of her Looking Into Light's (review) I Ask no Dream" which was originally recorded for a 2006 appearance on BBC's Songs Of Praise.

Troy Donockley and Dave Bainbridge contribute extensively to the album. Their first number is "A Stor Mo Chroi" ("Love Of My Heart"), a traditional air followed by some cracking dance tunes. Dave Bainbridge teams up with Phil Keaggy on a piece written and recorded especially for this album entitled "Across the Sea," in anticipation of their collaboration. Debbie Bainbridge plays a stunning solo piano piece in the melancholy instrumental ballad "In Your Arms."

Kenso's live rendition of "A Winter in Hokkaido" is an upbeat synth-based instrumental that serves as an excellent introduction to the Japanese progressive band for those that have not heard them before. The instrumental "Asilomar Sunrise" by Keith Baker features some great dulcimer and serves equally as an introduction to the artist.

The US/Indian band Aradhna provided a previously unreleased medidative track entitled "Rahim Dhaga." We especially enjoyed the piece by the German project Eureka entitled "Arabesque." With rich orchestral washes, it features a superb low whistle and the truly great guitar playing by Frank Bossert. The first CD concludes with with "Dreaming," a new age number by Invisible Opera Compnay of Tibet. Fabio Golfetti plays guitar using an unusual right hand slide technique that results in some beautiful, haunting sounds.

The second CD opens with Dave Bainbridge's stunning new rendition of Iona's "Bird of Heaven." A progressive masterwork complete with tempo and style changes, pulsing percussion and rich arrangements provide a perfect foundation for both instrumental solos and Joanne Hogg's evocative vocal parts. Nick Beggs follows with the upbeat instrumental rock track "Do Wot you Want." Troy Donockley returns with a revision to "Hymn to the Sea," originally recorded for the BBC series Timewatch. The theme is played on several instruments beginning with an incredibly played haunting low whistle. Nick Fletcher contributes a lovely classical guitar solo piece entitled "Silver Moon."

Chasing the Monsoon, an outgrowth of the former Karnataka, contribute their second outstanding single "Circles of Stone" featuring the ethereal voice of Lisa Fury. We were delighted with the acoustic mix of Mostly Autumn's "Winter Is A King" sung by Heather Findlay supported by Bryan Josh's guitar playing. Mixed by Ben Matthews (Thunder) exclusively for the album, the song also features Troy Donockley on whistle. Rachel Taylor-Beales' "Super Glue" is an excellent introduction to the folk artist. Lovely vocal harmonies are supported by light unplugged acoustic instrumentation.

Debbie Bainbridge plays piano and recorder in her meditative and haunting instrumental "Sacred Space" supported by low whistle by Troy Donockley and keyboard by Dave Bainbridge. David Fitzgerald's soprano saxophone and Dave Bainbridge's evocative orchestration are featured on the traditional "O Euchari." The ethereal sounds of "The Brilliance of the Stars" by Deborah Martin blend perfectly with the instrumental pieces of this album. Guillermo Cides and Emmett Chapman use exclusively the Chapman Stick to produce the brilliant and haunting instrumental "Out of the Ether."

We were especially delighted to hear a new track by Mae McKenna and Dave Bainbridge entitled "A Prayer." Mae wrote and recorded the beautiful melody and sings it in Scottish Gaelic especially for Luca 2. The 2006 Songs of Praise version Joanne Hogg's "Almighty Father who Dost Give" also originally from her solo album Looking into Light is a delightful ballad. Jo also plays piano and is supported by Dave, Troy and Frank from Iona. Theophonic Cloud--Dave and Colette Taylor, from Oregon, Montana and Alaska--perform the song "Luca." Piano and light guitar-based progressive arrangements provide an excellent backdrop for Colette's evocative vocal work. Her voice is similar to Joanne Hogg's in texture and range.

The album concludes with "Red Sun" performed by Nick Fletcher and Dave Bainbridge. It is rich, powerful, Ionaesque, instrumental with keyboard by Dave Bainbridge and guitar by Nick Fletcher. The two musicians recorded an improvised jam session which highlights Nick's rarely heard emotive electric guitar playing. Dave Bainbridge's second compilation is an incredible 140 minute collection of pieces featuring female vocals, international new age, progressive rock and Celtic instrumentals. Introductions to a great number of artists are perfectly balanced by those from the Iona clan. Bravo!

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