Reviews 11-28-2010

Music Reviews 




Many Paths

by Lorrie Sarafin

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Many Paths is Lorrie Sarafin's follow up to Second Wind and again I find that the music is every bit as good as Lorrie's last album and strives to take the listener to that next level through a blending of familiar elements with the addition of some innovative sounds that proves that Lorrie is not content to just make the same music over and over again. At times I felt like I was on a spiritual journey with Lorrie that ranged from the song Dreamtime which was influenced by the native peoples of Australia to Mountain Temple Mist which was inspired by the temples of the Himalayas. And of course the journey takes us to the Navajo reservations of Arizona. Lorrie lives just outside of metro Phoenix which allows her to visit these music inspiring sites on several reservations including Navajo, Hopi, and Pima-Maricopa on a regular basis. Lucky for her and lucky for us as we reap the benefit of the music that is born in those places. This wonderful mixing of a variety of cultures in one album is what makes this journey worthwhile for the attentive listener.

You might think that with such a diverse range of cultures that the music might be a bit schizophrenic as each culture tries to assert itself through the songs that Lorrie has chosen for this album but such is not the case. I won't deny that the songs do evoke different images as you move through the tracklist from beginning to end but the songs do seem to created a unified journey for the listener giving the traveler a variety of scenes to contemplate as the music washes over them. Heck, at times I even found myself thinking of some of Steve Roach and Byron Metcalf's more tribal oriented music as I explored the songs on this disc. A song that illustrates this style of music would be the remix that was done of the song The Last Buffalo which is track 12 on this collection. Take a listen and see if you don't agree.  

Of course this shows exactly what I was talking about earlier that Lorrie is not timid about exploring new ways to express her music that are not completely centered on her flute being the focus of each song. The flute is still there on many of the pieces but mixed or sampled in such a way that it complements the other instruments that are present on many of the songs. While Second Wind was mostly a solo effort Lorrie has enlisted keyboardists Rob Ibieta and Fiona Joy Hawkins as well as multi instrumentalist Susan Rivers to help realize the vision of her music that is Many Paths. The addition of these talented artists into the mix with Lorrie allows this album to offer to listeners a rich emotional landscape of songs that runs the gamut from tribal beats to the soothing sounds of her flute offering us refuge from the stress of the every day world that we all face.  

And when I say runs the gamut I do mean that literally. Check out the song Arrival which starts off simply enough with an acoustic guitar and Lorrie's flute being played hauntingly in the background and then sit in amazement as it shifts into a smooth jazz piece that doesn't lose the listener but pulls them along without missing a beat. A tricky move to be sure but Lorrie was able to pull it off and then continue right on into the next track without leaving the listener wondering what happened to the music that they were listening to at the start of the album. The only nit that I might pick with this song is that it ends rather abruptly almost like it was cut off a little too prematurely but a great song while it lasted.  

All in all I have no problem recommending this album if for no other reason than because of the musical ground that it covers in its 14 tracks. The running time is just shy of 60 minutes and allows the listener to spend some time getting to know Lorrie through the songs that she has chosen to share on this album. She has varied her sound palette with this album and has achieved some wonderful results by presenting her music in ways that won't be what the fans of Second Wind will expect. It is a refreshing approach to her signature Native American flute sound and through her skillful and imaginative handling of the songs she is able to express more of the emotions that live behind the songs that she composes. While not all of the songs are what I consider contemplative none of them wander too far from that mood to disturb those who might want to put this album on in the background as a way of relaxing at the end of a stressful day. Hats off to Lorrie for allowing her passions to lead her further down her chosen musical path and to share with us through Many Paths the excellent results of what she has discovered. Definitely recommended by AV.

Reviewed by Michael Foster editor of Ambient Visions