01 June 2019

Instrumental Acoustic Review: Raphael Groten-Star Lullaby

Release Date: June 1, 2019
Label: Indie

I first heard an album from Raphael Groten in 2015 covering Journey Home. So now with 4 years between albums, we have a double-disc set to make up for the lost time. The new release is titled Star Lullaby. 29 tracks comprise his latest recording. 

Star Lullaby on disc 1 is all original solo guitar music produced at Imaginary Road Studios with Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton. Disc 2 includes the same songs but with featured musicians Michael Manring, Eugene Friesen, Ron Korb, Charlie Bisharat, Jeff Haynes, Noah Wilding, and Will Ackerman.  This will provide each individual listener the opportunity to hear all tracks as they were meant to be heard with the guitar and then another opportunity to hear it all with instruments added. You will have the chance to compare and contrast each song, but most of all come to appreciate what a true artisan Raphael is with his six-string.

The picking and plucking of the acoustic guitar can create many soundscapes, textures, colors, and images. This is where the artist succeeds in seemingly effortless fashion. Certainly, it sounds very smooth as he transitions from one song to the next but surely this is not an easy thing to accomplish. Making your guitar the only instrument, then filling in all the spaces with the right tones and rhythms, must be a task. And then thinking of adding many other instruments and where to put them properly in a composition is another challenge. What you never have is a window into the process and obstacles one can run into on such an ambitious undertaking. That must have been more of a challenge from a production point than cutting the first disc with just guitar.

On the second disc, Raphael was very smart and made sure his guitar remained the main instrument. This does not take away from the added instrumentation. The artist commented: To be clear, the tracklist is the same for both discs, except Disc 2 which has a 15th track: “Star Lullaby” (vocals). (Which by the way, is very good).

Truly, my inspiration for the double CD came early on in production. As I began to overdub the featured musicians (which was thrilling!), I realized that while I expanded the sound for my fans, I also wanted to maintain their capacity to be able to listen to just the solo guitar

 I think that puts it all into proper perspective for the artist and for the listeners.

With that said, I found the additional instruments a benefit to the tracks, particularly with Michael Manring's distinctive bass style and tone.  The natural partnership of bass and six-string guitars are very evident when listening to these tracks. I also think because the guitar is acoustic, it allows the other instruments to shine and accompany Raphael in the most complimentary way possible. The beauty and simplicity of the first disc are very enjoyable and will be appreciated by guitar fans and those of easy listening or relaxation music. The same applies to the second disc but what you get is more layers of sound without any compromise from any one instrument, it all blends together beautifully.

There is just so much to enjoy on Star Lullaby that it would seem unfair to site any one track as a standout because they all are, it’s as simple as that. This is quite a treat for the ears and senses and the contrasts and variety are superb.


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
June 1, 2019

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Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:

Disc 1: Solo Guitar
 
1.  dawn
2.  waking
3.  mindfulness
4.  guidance
5.  levity
6.  star lullaby
7.  gratitude
8.  meditation
9.  compassion
10. opening
11. fledgling
12. eclipse
13. trust
14. prayer


Disc 2: Featured Musicians
 
1.  dawn
2.  waking
3.  mindfulness
4.  guidance
5.  levity
6.  star lullaby
7.  gratitude
8.  meditation
9.  compassion
10. opening
11. fledgling
12. eclipse
13. trust
14. prayer
15. star lullaby (vocals)


 

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