"Breath of Angels"
Way back in my day, while woking for a company in L.A., a manager gave me a book about angels, to inspire me in a special way. Between then, and now, I lost the book; however, her intention was fulfilled—the inspiration I received from that book was indelibly hard wired into my brain. Tonight, Amy Barbera’s “Breath of Angels” (BrOA) reminded me of that experience; and, like the book, it is a penetratingly inspiring album, with an enduring quality.
BrOA—I “acronymize” it that way to avoid unintentional free advertising for one of America’s 4 largest banks—is Amy’s best, and most daring, and inspiring, to date. Her intention was to present an album that promotes inner healing, and meditation, and every aspect of the album, from design to production, and performance, has been meticulously attended to, toward that end.
The spiritual energy imbued into its “skin”, hints of the care, love, and intense focus she has given this CD. Relative to design, the album is packaged in a three-panel card stock design, with 6 panels, each with an uplifting picture of Amy, (with, and without wings), as well as a 7th on the CD’s face. Granted, Amy has a knack for taking eye-capturing, and -holding pictures, but, the best thing about her choice of packaging is that it may give the listener a sense of being able to touch her. Clearly, this is more than a professional project; it’s personal, and very personable as well.
[Piloted by producer, Denny Tate], BrOA’s production standards are excellent; in fact, compared to her previous works, they are exceptional. Part of that quality may arise from its thematic orientation; it’s a concept album, rather than just a collection of tracks. As a certified sound healer, this author knows that the first step in opening someone’s microcosm [body, soul, and mind] to healing is to generate a relaxation response, and that is exactly how this album begins. From the jump, the title track has a major chill factor—in fact, it is so relaxing that I initially was going to title this review, “Caution: Listening To This Album While Operating Moving Vehicles May Cause You To Fall Asleep At The Wheel.” Definitely not a project that causes people to fall asleep from being boring, BrOA’s increasingly interesting melodies, arrangements, and production techniques make it a progressive journey from remarkable relaxation, to a genuinely elevated, and expanded spiritual awareness.
Breath of Angels
Throughout the album, there is an almost eery suspended quality; it does not seek to hypnotize through repetition, to entertain through vocal, and technical gimmickry, or to simply fill up your time with tracks that you won’t mind hearing, but that have no sense of progression, or of unfolding. After the opening track, her “Flying” gives a sense of rising up through the clouds, like an eagle, floating on the warmth of piano, and strings, up into a stillness that perhaps only himalayan hang gliders may viscerally understand. Flying’s lofty gentleness progresses into “Rest in the Lord”, which brings the listener into a state of rest that greatly facilitates mindfulness, and meditation. Then, just when you think you’ve got somewhat of a handle on where she is headed with this CD, Amy makes an unexpected turn.
Rest in the Lord
“Dreamworld” marks her diversion into very interesting harmonic, and rhythmic explorations; there, Amy genuinely begins to move into innovative territory. It’s best not to try to anticipate where this track is headed, and to just be present with it, just as you must be when higher dimensions of awareness begin to unfold when entering states of deep meditation. While also setting up the next song, Dreamworld’s balance of elevating harmonic, and grounding rhythmic explorations do well to encourage the listener just to let go, and flow. “Open Your Heart” seems to begin as a very floaty nod to the first two songs, which quickly becomes the culmination of everything that precedes it, with its steady, calmly driving rhythms, and sometimes quirky harmonies enabling the album to keep an anticipative grip on the listener. In “Love Yourself”, she shifts back to that suspended quality, gently lifting the listener into pondering self-care, and self-love, repeatedly urging the listener to fulfill the most important part of Jesus’ second commandment, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
Open Your Heart
Still coloring outside of the lines, Amy begins to turn this CD into a summation of her previous offerings, delivering a haunting, evocative rendition [officially, and aptly called, the “Meditative Mix”] of her song, “Make Me a Butterfly”. This is not just another “Let’s throw in a different version of…” move, (such as when someone releases a dance version of a ballad, or vice verse”); this is a totally new animal, so to speak. Rather than the flittering, fluttering, i.e. consistently active approach of her previously released versions of the song, this one is “out there”, rendered throughout in rubato, much like a butterfly floating on warm wind, wherever the wind takes it. In this case, the wind takes the listener into the CD’s apex; i.e. “Healing Song”’s message of hope, reminding him, or her of the Lord’s care, provision, healing, comfort, and Love in a way that kinda make you wanna just sit it It, and soak It up.
Make Me A Butterfly
The Healing Song
For this author, initially, the remainder of the CD seemed like simply icing on a cake that doesn’t really need it. “I Had a Dream” is a gentle song, and Amy’s intonation, and technique are top notch, but, I initially thought the spoken intro was somewhat detracting. Later, I understood that the person of the song, having been carried to Jesus by the harmonic winds, (so to speak), is having an intimate conversation with Him, expressing her dream of a Messianic world. The album ends strongly, with the Meditative Mix of “Paint Me a Rainbow”; its downtempo groove make it a very well chosen final track, alluding to the unexpected turns that the album has taken, while bringing her music full circle for her fans—bridging the past, while pioneering the present.
I Had A Dream
Paint Me A Rainbow
Her previous album, “Beautiful Flower of Life”, was aptly titled; in her current discography, it represents the flowering of a young artist. While clear, and inviting, her voice (on that album) still had an intermittent sense of delicateness, if not frailty. Breath of Angels represents the fruit of that flowering; it is much more substantial, and much more deeply fulfilling, and the Love expressed through her rich, strong voice is the spearhead of a CD that definitely hits its intended targets—the heart, and spirit. As such, Breath of Angels also represents the promise of an increasingly fruitful ministry, and career as Amy continues to tread her road less traveled, leading all her fans along it, into unforeseen inner reaches of reflection, of healing, and of Love.
This is the kind of album you put on when you wish to be in a high, and progressively more spiritual environment; whether for meditation, formal healing treatment, or just simply to chill, and to open oneself to Love’s healing Energy, so excellently embodied in Breath of Angels.
Rating: 5/5 stars.
Written by Alyras.
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