Various Artists

Sacred Ground: A Tribute to Mother Earth

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A tribute to Mother Earth might seem hokey under many circumstances, but when the tracks are all from Native American singers and songwriters, there's actually a sense of connection about the idea. Bill Miller starts things off with the lush, fully arranged "Sacred Ground," his mighty, dramatic voice (a little like Roy Orbison meets Chris Isaak) towering over the tune. "Can You Hear the Call," from Robert Mirabal, is eerily reminiscent of a chillout Enigma, and so it goes. There a prevalence of synthesizers and programmed beats, the tones and rhythms making it sound like the early '90s. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but it gives a generic feel to much of the disc that has little to give a particularly Native American feel to the disc (although some of the vocals on "Mountain Song" do reclaim the heritage somewhat). And that, ultimately, is the problem. Throughout, it could mostly be any new age/chillout compilation. It's pleasant, but unless you're a big fan of the artists concerned, hardly essential listening. The heart might well be in the right place, but the music has a disturbing blandness.

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