More than a hue and a cry
I’ll admit it. I started coloring the minute I opened the package. Grammy Award Winner and three-time Grammy nominee Darlene Koldenhoven’s latest release, Color Me Home, has a coloring book that invites you to experience all the colors of her music. Page after page is chock full of notes, drawings and lyrics, but the unique packaging is nothing compared to this contemporary nightingale’s resplendent voice. Although she crosses over to multiple genres all the time, Koldenhoven has one of the purist tones in the New Age genre. Her accolades and awards are so many that it would take up the review, but let it be said that you have heard her voice without knowing it at least once in your life. Color Me Home has some exquisite vocals and some great music as well as the nature of a musical voyage around the planet and beyond. The songs have many complex qualities; relaxing, meditative and even healing in a sublime fashion.
Imagine if you will a morning with light that burns the sky with red and yellow. The fusion becomes pronounced orange at first, then coalesces into a kind of saffron firelight. Darlene’s opening number, First Light is the embodiment of that miraculous event. The sound of waves and avian songs mixes harmoniously with flute, oboe and piccolo. It is the earth taking her first deep breath of the day. Could there be a better beginning? It segues artfully into The Pleasure of the Mourning Dove. The woeful call becomes joyous as the doves make their home. The lyrics suggest that if the doves a build a life together in this challenging world, then so can you. The violin of Charlie Bisharat adds a dreamy ambiance to the song.
Kalahari Calls features the dynamic flute work of well-known South African flutist Wouter Kellerman. Strong ethnic melodies vie with sultry vocal. The heat of the day is gratefully followed by the cool of the evening as the night time energizes the spirit. The composition is mesmerizing. I could almost feel the cooling breezes and imagine as each star winked on in the desert sky and added their light to the glow of the fire.
One of the longest and best cuts on Color Me Home was Indian Summer. Gentle chant, lucid piano and John Sarantos’ Native American flute combined with the breathtaking voice of Koldenhoven reminds us of the echoes of every valley, the height of every mountain and the power of the all elements; water, wind, earth and fire. Sun and Moon dance in the sky, the rivers laugh and the Spider God looks down from the stars.
Embracing This Moment features a passionate canticle by Darlene in which her voice is clear and resonant. Yes, it’s a metaphor that reminds us to stop and smell the roses, but as Darlene voice soars over the trees, she never forgets to look down and appreciate the beauty of the earth below. Al Jewer adds his refined English horn to the mix while Lyn Bertles contributes stratospheric violin and viola.
Combining vocalese and flugelhorn by legendary sideman Jeff Oster, Open Skies is the clear winner for me. Darlene’s voice ascends to incredible heights on this uplifting piece. The combination of gossamer music gives one the feeling of liberty to pursue lofty daydreams and cloud cuddling fantasies. I played this one a lot.
Lastly, the title track Color Me Home with its opulent piano lead and gentle vocal closes the album. Darlene’s song of primary colors, the green, the red, and the blue represents the culmination of the wondrous musical journey, the destination is achieved and all is right with the world.
“Color me home, See a familiar face, share in a warm embrace, living a life with grace, Color me home.”
I found nothing lacking on this superb collection although I am always hopeful to hear more of Darlene’s voice. Color Me Home has everything I’ve ever wanted on a great album. Eleven tracks of enthralling New Age music, a wonderful cover on the album and a coloring book inside. These ethereal compositions will add color to anyone’s life. I’m going back to the coloring book now…