Review by Harold Wood
This album is billed as "Songs to help us remember our connection with nature.... given with joy to the earth and the awakening female energies within us all." To establish this connection, the artists rely largely on Native American imagery, including songs entitled "Flowering Earth," "Star Maiden," "Giveaway Song," and "Rainbow Woman."
I for one have become somewhat churlish about the over-reliance of whites using Native American imagery in attempts to re-connect ourselves with the Earth - it just doesn't ring true and smacks of "new age" nonsense. I admire and respect true Native American music, whether traditional or modern, as performed by Native American artists like Joanne Shenandoah or Jack Gladstone, but when whites act as if only persons born on the continent of their ancestors can learn to love the Earth, I resent the insinuation. But Ani Williams and Lisa Thiel have done an outstanding job here in using some Native American imagery, without sounding cheesy New Age at all, and their effort really works!
Ani's enchanting voice and harp alternates with instrumental pieces featuring native American flutes, percussion, ocarina, pan pipes, djenbe drums, and Lisa adds her own important musical dimensions. Melodic and rhythmic, this is music for meditation.
The teachers here are the animals and nature spirits - the jaguar, the blue heron, the owl, the bear, the dragonfly, the white deer, the swan, the whale, the hummingbird. In "Dream Maker," the jaguar teaches us "courage and will," the great bear teaches us the "Power to know shadows dreaming," t the white deer teches kindness, the swan teaches the "strength of woman," while
Whale people I hear your call,
Sacred Earth keepers of all.
Whale people I hear your call
You sing Her story for us all.
In "Flowering Earth," we are reminded that
... the flowers and the songs
They shall endure forever
The Earth is recognized also as encompassing the Sky. The "Star Maiden" beckons us to " look among the heavens/And remember my beginning there." In "Mother-of_All_That-is-Alive," the voices call upon the "Mother of Stars, Mother of Galaxies," recognizing that "Oh your children are remembering slowly/To honor all that is alive! Oh your children are remembering slowly/the oneness of all that is alive."
Another of my favorites is "In Peace and Beauty," taken from Lisa Thiel's earlier album, Songs of the Spirit:
In peace and beauty may I walk
In peace and beauty wander the heavens
In peace, in peace, may I wander
But the apex of achievement on this album, to my ear, is the song, "She," from Ani's prior album, Children of the Sun. Guitar, harmony vocals, hoop drum, and pan pipes accompany Ani's celestial voice, describing the feminine principle with devotion:
She stretched my heart, made it a drum
Keeping time with everyone...
Keeping time for dancing
with the moon and stars and sun...
With the rain, with the wind
In a circle of friends.
The chorus is in Greek Thracian, and can only be heard to be appreciated in its poetic triumph.
It is hard to describe the beauty of music in words, and it is especially challenging to attempt to do so for this album. But if you need some musical beauty and peace in your life, you will find this album inspirational and engaging.
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Last update: February 22, 1998