Wednesday, November 19, 2014

RECORD REVIEW: Tom Sharpe "Lifting the World"

Lifting the World
Marathon Records 

Blending a progressive 
rock sensibility with 
intricate percussion and 
an undeniable choral 
majesty, the latest from 
Tom Sharpe is a symphony 
of world music — truly 
a breath of "fresh aire."

Through his longtime work with the platinum-selling New Age ensemble Mannheim Steamroller and iconic former Styx frontman Dennis DeYoungTom Sharpe has earned an impeccable reputation over the years as an in-demand multi-instrumentalist and composer. In 2002, his debut solo record, Like Setting Myself on Fire, met with considerable critical acclaim. And in 2014, the award-winning Chicago-based musician returns with his sophomore effort.

"Music to me is pure 
passion and emotion."
-Tom Sharpe

Produced by Bryan Robb, Lifting the World is "lifting," indeed. Throughout the record, Sharpe's intricate drum and percussion work is at times reminiscent of Bill Bruford's with King Crimson major bonus points, for sure. Additionally, his piano and keyboard performances and arrangements are equally superb. Violinist Jennifer Page and cellist Amanda Nelson are also due huge kudos for their amazing and often chilling contributions  BRAVO!

Of its many highlights, certain selections pop out consistently with each listen. Possessing a distinctive tribal vibe, "World Speak" is an all-drum and percussion composition and makes for a perfect opening track.

"It seems that 
Lifting the World 
is reaching listeners 
right at their hearts, 
which is great to hear." 
-Tom Sharpe

"Lifting the World Pt. I" is a compelling eight-minute opus. The powerful drum work combined with mighty orchestral and choral arrangements makes for one of the record's most impressive highlights. In fact, I've personally chosen this particular composition as the official intro track for my own band's upcoming 30th anniversary concert run.

Multi-instrumentalist and 
composer, Tom Sharpe
Clocking in at seven minutes, "Three Stories" is a majestic aural roller coaster ride. The track opens with a delicate string and piano section, then transports listeners briefly to the Orient  only to build suddenly to a crashing orchestral crescendo. Then, with one's blood pumping and heart racing, Sharpe delivers the listener gently back to the beginning  amid an equally delicate piano outro.

Another of the record's brightest highlights, "The Cathedral Is Where You Are" delivers a brilliantly tear-jerking string intro that segues seamlessly into lush orchestration, peppered with epic Enigma-style vocals.

Organic, emotional and captivating, Lifting the World serves as a beautiful and engaging personal soundtrack to the listener's own private movie.

-Christopher Long
(November 2014)

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