Various Artists

State of Grace, Vol. 2: Turning to Peace

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Inspired by the most cherished sacred texts from his childhood religious traditions, composer/producer Paul Schwartz created a true musical phenomenon in 2000 with State of Grace, a magnificent collection that blended vocal, choral, and orchestral elements with his trademark affinity for seductive ambient grooves. State of Grace, Vol. 2: Turning to Peace plays something like Schwartz's further groove/orchestral-blended spiritual adventures, infused with the same sort of sweeping musical whimsy and once again the beautiful vocal additions of Lisbeth Scott on six tracks. Partially based on the Magnificat and the Stabat Mater, two Latin texts related to the emotional journey of the Virgin Mary, the collection also includes emotional performances by the Crouch End Festival Chorus and harpist Helen Tunstall, and a powerful guest appearance by legendary guitarist Carlos Santana, who used the popular State of Grace song "Miserere" as the basis of the crackling new tune "CuraciĆ³n (Sunlight on Water)." The collection begins majestically, with the Crouch End Festival Chorus emoting the "Magnificat" in Latin before segueing into an easy funk, trippy ambient groove realm; Schwartz then sweeps this fascinating mix of the ancient and modern into a powerful orchestral swirl. The title track then reintroduces the listener to the haunting, then soaring voice of Scott, singing images of a peaceful world over a groove that flows like a gentle heartbeat. Schwartz dubs the thoughtful, contemplative "Stabat Mater" the "tragic center of the record," and his artful blend of the harmonic textures of the choir with Scott's moving lead vocal takes the key track to truly transcendent places.

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