Review by Lee Durbin

Lee Durbin –  tweets at http://twitter.com/lddurbin

Peace Sounds is a 12-track album recorded with the aim of raising funds for an upcoming event with Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen master whose works and words have influenced many of the artists lending their talents to this release. It is a predominantly acoustic affair, with vocals that celebrate many of the themes one might associate with a renowned Buddhist and peace activist: the natural world, the numinous, and simple human relations.

The dozen tracks included here showcase a variety of accomplished instrumentalists with striking vocal talents. James Wills’s opening piece overlays birdsong and ethereal backing hums on a plucked acoustic arrangement that culminates in a rumbling outro, over which he sings an ode to dawn. Jackie Oates, formerly of folk group Rachel Unthank and the Winterset, provides a soothing mix of violin, piano, and hushed acoustic guitar, as her graceful voice carries the piece along. Nathan Ball ups the tempo but retains the calm in “Footprints”, whilst Joe Reilly’s respiratory musings in “Tree Meditation” conclude the first half.

The album’s second half opens with Gavin Kaufman’s gentle minor chords on “Fall In”, followed by Manchester-based singer-songwriter Hilary Bichovsky’s meditative acoustic number, “Ohm Song”. The first and only purely instrumental track on Peace Sounds is Tom Manwell’s “Piano Peace”, which extends over nine minutes but never feels as though it’s outstayed its welcome. The album finishes in very much the same spirit as it began, with a trio of quiet acoustic numbers sharing equally positive titles (Chris Goodchild’s “Life is Beautiful”, Kim Mcmahon’s “I am a Cloud”, and Little Earth’s “Peacefully Free”).

Joyful, gentle, and barely an octave above a whisper, the dozen tracks on Peace Sounds certainly live up to the album’s title. Ostensibly a musical celebration of a visionary individual once nominated by Martin Luther King, Jr. for the Nobel Peace Prize, Peace Sounds is a fine collection in its own right for anyone seeking an hour’s escape from the sound and fury of the everyday rush.

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