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Jon Anderson

Angels Embrace

Review by Gary Hill

This 1995 release is an unusual one in Jon Anderson's solo catalog. Then again, he has never been one to shy away from stretching beyond expectations. I'd say that this qualifies as "new age" music, assuming that's a thing. It's a largely instrumental release with only a handful of the music having vocals. All the instrumention is mellow and keyboard oriented. It's quite a satisfying release, though. I'm not sure I'd include it under progressive rock if it were from another artist, but given the strength of Anderson's contributions to progressive rock, everything he does fits there for me. This album includes guest vocals by both of his daughters (Deborah on the title track and Jade on "Prayersong."). All in all, this might be unusual, but it's well worth having.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Myo Maya
This short introductory piece is made up of a sea of voices.
New Eire Land
Atmospheric keyboard sounds rise up to start this. It grows ever so gradually with the sounds of nature heard at times. This pretty and quite relaxing. This instrumental piece runs nearly 15-minutes.
Angels Embrace
The keyboards from the previous piece start this, but then drop away as the sounds of nature take over. Then we get a new keyboard element rising up. Vocals come in, delivered in pretty and compelling slow moving ways. This feels like something that would have fit in the Jon and Vangelis catalog. Nature sounds are heard at the end, along with a new keyboard part that segues into the next track.
Cloudsinging
Here we get another keyboard solo instrumental piece. This is lush, slow moving and pretty.
Prayersong
More of a song-based number, this pretty track feels more like what I expect from a Jon Anderson solo album. It's slow, lushly arranged and mellow. I really like the vocal melodies a lot, and a little chiming bell is a nice touch to the keyboard arrangement.
Naturemusic
This track is nearly 12-minutes long. That bell is heard prominently on the introduction to this number. There are some chimes and nature elements, too. That mix of sounds, with the nature elements quite high in the mix (you expect that given the title, right?) is the idea here. There are some chorale like vocals, but I think they are samples or synthesizer voicings.
Midnight Cello
The closing track is another mellow instrumental piece that has a lot of beauty built into it.
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