The Journey

Anna Schaad

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The Journey Review

by William Ruhlmann

On her first two self-released albums, The Raven Project and Songspell, violist/violinist Anna Schaad explored a sort of Celtic crossover hybrid, mixing traditional Scottish/Irish themes with elements of folk, rock, blues, and jazz, abetted by guitarist David MacVittie, who brought in many of those elements and even earned a co-billing with Schaad on Songspell. The Journey, Schaad's third album, takes a different tack. MacVittie is missing, and with him the contemporary music styles. But the Celtic influence has also been put in the background somewhat, as Schaad, who has classical training, moves more toward new age, placing greater emphasis on her own instruments, with only percussionist Lauri Lyster a constant accompanist. Schaad appears on the album cover looking like a refugee from a Renaissance fair, wearing a flowing gown in a wooded setting, as if about to encounter a knight. In the extensive liner notes she has penned for the CD booklet, she describes a dream of traveling through a forest, on foot and on horseback. If she doesn't have as many adventures as Alice does in Wonderland, there is nevertheless a similarity in tone, and the fantasy informs the album's instrumental settings. Schaad plays over nature sounds, bringing in her Celtic and classical influences, but making an individual statement, notably in "Gratitude," the first unaccompanied violin solo she has committed to disc. She was always more than a Celtic musician, and here she has fully developed her own voice in contemporary instrumental music.

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