Listening to Michael Whittaker's debut Earth Tones is a lot like glancing at postcards from a short but eventful trip around the globe, with each tune offering a different cultural vibe based on brief visits to Scotland, France, Asia, and Africa. The young but well traveled keyboardist/composer keeps the travelogue light and frisky, as if to say, my last stop was great, had fun, wish you were here, gotta go -- which is to say he only scratches the surface of world music but still engages us nonetheless. There are a few attempts at deeper explorations, most notably "Quench the Thirsting," whose Swahili chants encourage a singalong but speak of the tragic drought in Malawi, Africa. Combining Yanni's flair for symphony light with Jon Anderson's ethereal Irish flavors, Whittaker remembers a trip to the green fields of "Highland Air." Draws from other diverse influences throughout, including 70s wah-wah guitar driven soul ("Coffee of The Day") and Pat Metheny ("Write on Track"), Whittaker enjoys taking us on an upbeat search for his musical identity.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran