Reviews 09-08-2013

Music Reviews 



The Blue Rose

by Al Conti

Visit Al Conti's website

One of the first connections that I made at Ambient Visions was with a label that specialized in oriental music. Up until I listened to many of their albums I had only the vaguest sense of what I liked about eastern melodies and compositions but after hearing a few of their albums I walked away with a true love of the melodies and songs of the east. On The Blue Rose Al Conti manages to deliver a delightful set of songs with a thread of the orient running right through the heart of each and every song. The album is based upon an old Chinese legend, The Legend of the Blue Rose which has at its core a story of true love and of perseverance when it comes to getting what you want out of life instead of settling for something that is contrary to the very essence of who you are.

The Blue Rose consists of 10 songs that follow the story of this legend from the beginning starting with track one which is called The Princess and the Emperor and ending with true love found on track ten which is the title track of the album The Blue Rose. All the music on this album was composed, arranged and performed by Al Conti and the only other credited performances goes to Ann Licater who played flutes on Bamboo Night Garden and Hannah Beth Crary who played fiddles on the Painted Vase and Last Suitor. As you might expect the music has deep emotions running through all of the compositions as the songs and the story progresses from a feeling of despair to the triumph of a relationship based on truth as it emerges in the end. Alís keyboard work conveys these sensitive melodies with a light touch that adroitly communicates these emotions and leaves the listener truly feeling the story in their hearts as they are carried along from song to song. The sounds of the Erhu and the Pipa can be heard throughout this album and they lend an air of the orient whenever they manifest. The album notes do not specify as to whether these are the actual instruments played or whether they are electronically created but either way they fit seamlessly into the overall landscape that Al is painting musically on The Blue Rose so in the end it doesnít matter. They work.

It is obvious that Al is deeply passionate about the music on The Blue Rose and it shows in each and every composition on this release. His fascination with the music of the orient and with ancient legends has combined in this album to immerse the listener in lush soundscapes that offers up the inherent delicate beauty of the orient. The music allows the listener to be in a reflective mood for the journey ahead as they consider the story that is musically laid out before them. It is readily apparent that Al knows what he wants to communicate through his music and is more than capable in the studio to deliver a top notch album that takes what he feels in his heart and translates those emotions into the songs of The Blue Rose. The captivating flow of the music moves the narrative of the legend forward with each song building on the one before. Al was able to take his own love for the stories from faraway places and ancient times and create a deeply personal expression of them on this album. One of my favorite songs on this album was Heart In Bloom which was the beginning of the triumph of a deeper kind of love over the misleading loves that came before and the music is uplifting and inspiring albeit in a subdued kind of way but still the song leaves you with a feeling that everything will work out for the best in the end.

After listening to The Blue Rose several times I am left with a sense that life isnít so much about what happens to you through no choice of your own but rather how you choose to live your life in spite of circumstances that are beyond your control. The music of The Blue Rose takes the listener through a range of emotions during the course of the album all the while telling the story of the princess and her quest not to marry for any other reason than love. The listener will ultimately walk away from this journey satisfied for the time they have invested in Al Contiís musical vision of this ancient legend. The music is enchanting and stirring and sees the melding of eastern and western sensibilities in one album that is the best of both worlds. Of course the journey is never over with a good album because like a close friend you will always want to visit with them again and talk about what they have been up to lately. The Blue Rose is like that good friend and you will take the journey again and again with each time revealing the nuances that you might have missed the first time through. Good music can never be taken in with a single listen and The Blue Rose is good music. Shadowside Music. Enjoy.

Reviewed by Michael Foster editor Ambient Visions