11 Songs, 47 Minutes

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Ratings and Reviews

5.0 out of 5
2 Ratings

2 Ratings

BT Fasmer ,

One of Acoustic Ocean’s finest releases

Acoustic Ocean's new album “Blue Moon Rising” is about Remembrance, Gratitude and Renewal. It is from start to finish an incredibly rewarding listen.

Acoustic Ocean is the collaboration of two veteran musicians and recording artists Peggy Morgan and Bette Phelan. They debuted in 2009 with the album “Light Returning”. The title track from this album has been one of the most popular songs on New Age Stars Radio of all time. Their second album, “Reflections on Still Water”, was released in 2010. “Chimes of the Spirit” followed in 2013. Peggy Morgan died in 2016. The song “Love is a Force Field” on “Blue Moon Rising” was recorded before her passing.

Acoustic Ocean has always had a unique sound, and that is luckily intact on “Blue Moon Rising” as well. First song is called “A Hui Hou (Until We Meet Again)”. It has a wonderful flow with a nice touch of improvisation. The acoustic guitar is center stage. We immediately notice Acoustic Ocean’s wonderful use of space; it feels like a concert venue or hall. This gives the song a sense of depth.

From Acoustic Ocean’s homepage I learned that a Blue Moon is typically associated with women’s mysteries, intuition, and the divine aspects of the sacred feminine. Some modern magical traditions associate the Blue Moon with the growth of knowledge and wisdom within the phases of a woman’s life. The title track starts with the sound of crickets. Then – almost before we can adjust our ears – a duet between Bette Phelan on bowed dulcimer and Kay Aldrich on cello is heard. The melody has a celebratory feel. It is impossible not to feel happy and relaxed while listening to it. Next song, “Recalling Beauty”, is a more contemplative and thoughtful piece, featuring some gentle guitars.

I have always been fascinated by how refreshing and renewing Acoustic Ocean’s sound is. No other artist or band I know of has the same effect. Just listen to the song “Deep Grace / Scarborough Fair” and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Perhaps it is the sound of water and nature? Or is it the free-flowing style? At the same time Acoustic Ocean manages to keep the music interesting and engaging. The mentioned song is divided into two. The first is happy and positive, while part two makes you stop and think.

Talking about meditation music; the following songs “Spirit Awakening” and the beautifully named “Lotus Petals Falling On The Pacific” give time to relax, think and just breathe. Wonderful!

The song “Love is a Force Field,” features Peggy Morgan on harp and vocals. Its positive and warm atmosphere fills us with Gratitude. There’s so much love here; love for each other and love for music. The song itself is a force field and a lasting memory.

Acoustic Ocean’s music is never just easy listening. It has rich colors and many layers. “The Silent Storm” contains both light and darkness. Far in the background is something threatening, something to avoid. It is a song of hardship and emotional turmoil. If a song could be 3 dimensional, it would be like “The Silent Storm”. It truly is a work of art.

I very much enjoy the album’s overall design; notice how there’s one light and bright song, followed by a more dark and contemplative song – like a cycle. It makes the album very well-balanced. With “Sweet Mana From Heaven” it gets much lighter, then “Shadow Dancers”, with its duet of bowed dulcimer with cello, takes us into the darkness again. “All Things Made New” makes sure that the album ends on a high note – with the sound of water, of course.

In conclusion: Acoustic Ocean’s «Blue Moon Rising» is a very wise album. It really makes you appreciate the cleansing powers of music. Remembrance, Gratitude and Renewal are so powerful concepts, and they affect the album deeply. It is one of Acoustic Ocean’s finest releases, and that future of the band seems to be in the best of hands. If you are not already a fan, “Blue Moon Rising” will convince you to become one.

R J Lannan ,

Blue Moon Rising

Acoustic Ocean
Blue Moon Rising

Just once in a blue moon…

There are places on this earth that are way beyond special. Katmandu, Nepal. Sedona, Arizona. And many more, but my favorite is Kona, Hawaii. In every craggy green hill, every fragment of cold, gray lava, and in every sun-jeweled wave in its beryl-colored ocean there is magic. That magic can be coaxed, manipulated, and loved into art; paintings, poetry, and music. Acoustic Ocean has been tapping that particular source and creating some of the most enchanting music for a very long time. Blue Moon Rising is their fourth album to grace the spirit with Celtic, contemporary, and world music. The eleven tracks of music are well thought out, balancing melody and theme, creating an acoustic ambience that lends itself to living a life of balances and compromises with the earth, with others, and especially, with one’s self.
Acoustic Ocean was a rare and extraordinary partnership between musicians Bette Phelan and Peggy Morgan. This is the first CD that Phelan has offered since the passing of Morgan in 2016, but rest assured that her spirit is ensconced in every note of this recording. Love and Aloha is still strong.
A Hui Ho, Hawaiian for Until We Me Again, opens the album like a wordless prayer, but not one that lacks sentiment. Evocative guitar and somber cello combine in this tender, obvious farewell. It is a pas de deux of souls, intertwined, dancing to music that only the spirit can hear.
The title tune Blue Moon Rising sounded to me like an old Appalachian tune. Flutes and fiddles, strummed guitar and fretless bass, and staccato percussion come together to form a tune that would be comfortable in the misty hills and green valleys of your imagination. A welcomed visitor any time.
In Deep Grace/Scarborough Fair has Paul Simon’s theme barely heard in the middle of the piece, coming and going like a ghost. The music also has the sound of the ocean, the voices of guitar and flute, and the cello. It is a dream sequence where everything, including time, is slowed, heartbeats become the drumming, and thoughts become iridescent colors.
Love is a Force Field has what is probably Morgan’s last vocal and harp accompaniment. Ocean and birds, along with a joyful melody celebrates life and living. You can feel the sun on your face, you can taste the salty tang of the ocean, and you get the sense that all is good in the world if only for that moment. Aloha Peggy.
I loved every cut on Blue Moon Rising, but my overall favorite is The Silent Storm. It is a sad melody with a Spanish guitar motif and serious cello, but the combination makes for a piece that is pensive and emotionally-rich. It had a distinctive feeling of absence. The storm is within and the churning of emotions, the confusion, and the turmoil coalesces into a primordial state that may take another lifetime to quell.
Sweet Mana from Heaven is peudo-slack key guitar tune. In this particular case, “mana” is the Polynesian concept of spiritual force and it sometimes stands for the power of place, that magic I wrote about earlier. The tune opens with the Tibetan gong and the voice of the “pueo” the Hawaiian owl. You can feel the energy of black lava field and green forest, blue ocean and bluer sky all seeping deeply into your soul. I have felt the mana many times.
Shadow Dancers takes on the Appalachian theme once again in a ghostly gambol. The bowed dulcimer, a rare instrument to my hearing, but one with an organic sound, plays the lead in this tune. Haunting flute joins in with fretless bass as its side. Together they create an ethereal world, a place where the unexplained is normal and where reality takes the day off.
The other four tunes on Blue Moon Rising are just as exciting or listenable. Bette Phelan, the composer and main musician on a dozen instruments is joined by Kay Aldrich on cello and of course, Peggy Morgan on harp and vocals. When I first began listening to this music, I thought it was strictly organic, but upon further listening I realize that it is conceptual in many ways. There is an intangible quality that defies description. You’ll just have to listen. Highly recommended.
- R J Lannan, Artisan Music Reviews

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