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“…..Island of Anywhere is an exceptional album which presents Mike Howe in all of his brilliance creating music that is filled with passion and that will tug on the strings of your heart resonating with your spirit”.
Island of Anywhere is the third solo acoustic guitar release from Welsh composer and ecologist Mike Howe. Howe’s first two albums with the Real Music label, Time Stands Still (2009) and Round River (2010), provide listeners with a peaceful respite from the hectic pace and harsh realities of everyday life, and Island of Anywhere picks up the thread where the other two albums left off. Most of the seventeen tracks are solo acoustic guitar and a few feature Howe on bass, keyboards, and percussion as well. For me, Howe’s music suggests images of walking in the country and happening by someone sitting against a tree playing his or her guitar, completely lost in the music. There is nothing fancy or showy about Howe’s music – it is gentle, honest, and from the heart, and those qualities can be breathtaking in their own right. Nothing will jump out at you and demand attention — this is more like an inviting patch of sunshine beckoning you to come and relax for a while. With all of the forces demanding our attention, this quiet approach is both much needed and welcome. Island of Anywhere opens with “Beyond the Mountains,” a gorgeous ballad that reminds me a bit of Sting’s “Fields of Gold.” Warm and flowing like a happy daydream, it’s a stellar beginning. “Flowers of Penberi” evokes images of wildflowers gently moving to the rhythm of a breeze. “Waves on the Shore” picks up the tempo a bit and changes to more of a folk song mode. Constantly moving but never in a rush, this is a favorite. “Stray Birds” has a melancholy feeling that is not without hope. Light percussion in the background adds a bit of emphasis to the beat — a nice contrast to the flowing quality of the guitar. The title track is pure musical sunshine — blissful and serene. The reflective “This Life” is wordlessly philosophical about simplicity and contentment. “Sorry For What I Said” conveys humility, sincerity, and regret — a heartfelt beauty. “Pale Blue Dot” is another stand-out. More ambient than melodic, washes of keyboard color add an ethereal feeling while the guitar plays a simple, uncomplicated melody that conveys a sense of wonder and openness. “Days Gone By” ends this lovely collection with peaceful, dreamy nostalgia that accepts the past rather than longing for it. With three incredible albums to his credit, Mike Howe has created a musical niche for himself that will be hard to top for peaceful solo guitar that evokes a sense of well-being and calm. Island of Anywhere will be released on October 25, 2011 and will be available wherever Real Music albums are sold. It is available for pre-release orders from Amazon and iTunes. Very highly recommended!
Mike Howe is a veteran in the music business, but I feel that he has continually kept his ear to the ground. This means that there is vibrancy to each of the tracks on Island of Anywhere that simply is not present on a release at another musician’s similar part of career. After the strains of “Beyond the Mountains” wrap up, listeners are provided with an emotionally affecting track that straddles the barrier between environment and civilization. Cutting off at the three and a half minute mark, “Flowers of Penberi’ represents the perfect microcosm of elements that are touched upon during Island of Anywhere’s run time. “Branches and Stars” is another peak for Howe; there is a substantially different feel for this effort than is heard on the remainder of the album. While the song is still tremendously emotive, I feel that there is a certain openness that really hammers home the environmental marker of the track’s title. “Never Far from You” is slightly slower in tempo than a “Big Sky,” but I believe that the tracks act well in establishing a foundation for the rest of Island of Anywhere’s tracks. By showcasing smart arrangements with talented playing, listeners will be firmly affixed to their chairs through the rest of the album. “Kayak Trip” touches upon the element of water on an album where a number of the tracks (“Top of the World,” “Branches and Stars,” “Sunset”) touch upon air; this keeps the album fresh while creating a better interpretation of the earth as well as the titular Island. By the time that “Days Gone By” closes up, listeners should know this already – Island of Anywhere is a must-buy album. Pick this up from the link above or from any number of online or brick and mortar stores. Top Tracks: Beyond the Mountains, Waves on the Shore. Rating: 8.4 out of 10
Bass, guitar and percussion in their simple acoustic form give the melodies prominence on this lovely new recording from Mike Howe. Island of Anywhere follows in the tradition of his previous two recordings on the Real Music label. The tunes are deeply relaxing, soothing and even catchy, though never overridingly so. Howe aims for an organic beauty, and his music is uniquely inspired by the fact that he resides in a National Forest. Listening to his recordings brings that environment home, even in the midst of a bustling city.