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Heart Song

Review of Heart Song
by Randy Wayne Belt
October 2019

It’s autumn now and the smell of burning wood is in the air accenting the slight nip of chill beginning to make itself known. The perfect background music for warming up or winding down in front of the fireplace has been located.

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After listening to this album by Lisa Mitts in a nice relaxed atmosphere with, yes a real fire in the background, I have determined that the album’s title Heart Song was truly the best title it could have been given. As the title suggests, we can hear the songs emanate from the heart itself with the musical sounds giving life to emotions and feelings that otherwise could not be more perfectly expressed.

I don’t generally do reviews of purely instrumental music but I have to make an exception. This album could also work great not only as a soundtrack, or devotional background music, but is quite a charming album to have on during the Christmas Season.

Lisa Mitts is a Christian singer/songwriter from Washington state with influences of r&b, pop, country, jazz and rock. Her passion is to bring joy, love, and healing through music to everyone who listens. With also a good sized collection of albums under her belt that are more of an indie Christian pop and rock sound it is refreshing to hear an artist take a breather and express his or herself without words as Lisa so effectively does with the
Heart Song album, a collection of 10 piano driven songs released in 2018.

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The opening track Abide in my Love starts the album off setting the pace as a gentle piano piece with string sections woven in and throughout.

Divine Breath is the second track which continues the rich and full piano sound that was recorded just perfectly. Pianos are sometimes tough to get to sound the way you want them, but this was perfectly captured. There is just the right warmth that was captured by the microphone and placement of the mic giving this whole album the feel of a warm analog recording.

Falling Into winter is the next track and the minor chords carrying the song give you that sense of winter coming. It has a certain bleakness to it that speak of the frigidness of winter. But with it a certain beautiful sadness that is best highlighted by the main piano riff that works as a chorus if this were a vocal piece.

The albums’ title track Heart Song appears as track 4 and takes a gentle but bright and uplifting turn from the wintry past and moves on and upward to a more delightful sound and tone and just a touch of flute makes sound as it could be a background music track for an episode of Downton Abbey or the background music for a part of Pride and Prejudice. It has a classical feel to it that takes you back there. This one is my favorite!

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Dancing in the Field is a roving piano tune with strings accompanied at times again. I could hear this for a soundtrack for a very deep movie. It has an edge of sadness to it despite being titled “Dancing in the Fields”.

Leading My Path comes in as track 6 and if words were written to this it could well be a hymn and does have hints of influence from the gentle sacred hymn As the Deer Panteth for the Water“, which again leads us back to the title of the album by mood and emotion. This was the longest track of the album clocking in at 5:42. You can get away with that on instrumentals and this one fills the time as if it is not passing at all.

Rushing River displays once again Lisa’s knack for melody and writing a catchy melodic phrase. In a bit more of a minor chord emphasis, this song also has a wintry feel of the icy cold water moving along and beginning to freeze as if in slow motion at your feet and backs up my claim that this could be a good Christmas Season album, well, as long as you are somewhere where it gets cold in winter!

Track 8 is titled Peaceful Wanderer and once again that knack for melody is on display and with the help of synthesizer strings in carefully selected spots of the song. The song and its chosen melodic phrasing does indeed give a sense of peace and a sense of wandering though not tooo far off.

Joy in the Morning begins to close the album and starts with yet another beautiful melody and structure and has a new twist with some double time melodic phrases thrown in giving the song a lot of added interest. The song explores more of the pianos range and does so effectively. It is a happy type of song just as the title suggests.

And finally, the closing track gives us the sense that the album is complete and is appropriately titled Soul Rest. It gives a sense of completeness and rest for the weary soul. You can hear on this song especially a sense of two different playing styles that I would guess were learned earlier then later and combined together to paint a picture of an accomplished pianist.

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As an accomplished singer, songwriter, performer, and pianist it is no surprise that Lisa is an ISSA (International Singer Songwriter Association) 2019 recipient of the Female Songwriter of The Year (Bronze) and was also nominated in 5 categories for the Josie Music Awards, the largest globally recognized music awards for Independent Artists. She is also a prolific performer and serves as a worship leader. She resides in Auburn, WA with her husband David. They have four children and three grandchildren.

Put this one on and relax at the end of a long day and sit in front of a nice warm fireplace. Or put on a pretend fireplace on your TV screen, have a beverage and chill.

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And what is coming next for Lisa Mitts? Well, she has a pre-release announcement for – yes – Heart Songs Vol. 2: Songs of Peace.

In her own words “I wrote each one of these 11 new soothing instrumental songs by inspiration of God’s love and healing, all of them spontaneously at my keyboard. You will also love the beautiful strings on a few of them added by Billboard producer & sound engineer Kenny Lewis of Mixedemt Emotions who did an outstanding job mixing and mastering.”

The album is anticipated to release on Spotify and on iTunes and all digital outlets by Oct. 25th, 2019. A very limited number of physical CD’s (just 50 copies) are also being made and will be available by the end of this month. You can place advance orders by emailing to lisa@lisamitts.com or calling 425-277-2775.
website: www.lisamitts.com

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/2pP7RonAsAN91ouZXLi5hC?si=vN3X0AxZSkO4-xTT2OT3vQ

iTunes: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/lisa-mitts/359488551

YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/lisamittsmusic

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Olivia Penalva | “Dream You Home” Single Review

by Randy Wayne Belt
Dec 23, 2017

(First published in Starlight Music Chronicles on Nov. 30, 2017)

I’ll admit I love the Hallmark Christmas movies.  There’s something about that time of year  that makes even the mediocre movies seem good or magical.  But the best ones always have great music behind them.  Olivia Penalva’s new Christmas song “Dream You Home” would fit well as a background track for one of the well produced Hallmark Christmas movies, or any other, for that matter. This song is far beyond medicocrity.

Olivia, who hails from Vernon, BC in Canada, has put together quite a gem with this new song.  It has that magical sparkle to it in the underlying arrangements.  It is not as much an in-your-face Christmas song as it is capturing the spirit behind the season, making it perfect for placement in any Christmas or Holiday movie.  The chorus of the song is very memorable and powerful and even having  this as a background track would make any movie even better. (Great tracks can MAKE a great movie)

Not only does the song have a great mix of sounds based around a sort of shuffle march type drum beat on the verses but the lyrics are well written and paint a perfect picture of what she is trying to convey.

My favorite lyric in “Dream You Home” is “The light in your soul shines brighter than gold in my heart – that’s where you are.”

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The images invoked by the song could be any number of situations. It could be a lost loved one or a significant other who is separated by distance or time, or even a soldier gone in a far away land during the Christmas Season and the song  is almost like the soldiers spouse singing to bring him home even if it’s only at home in the heart.

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The song does indeed grab your heart and imagination, which is, to me, the ultimate goal of a song – to speak to anyone or everyone in any situation.  This is one more thing that makes it an easy shoo in for anyone considering it for a spot in a Christmas movie.

Often, it is this time of year when many find themselves missing a loved one in some capacity, and it isn’t always the best time for many, but even still and even if you are not into Christmas or the spirit of it, and even if you are the Grinch himself, this song still weighs in on its own merit as a song with a powerful  chorus that demands attention and speaks to the soul.

This isn’t Olivia’s first Christmas song.  I reviewed “Christmas For Two” which was published in Starlight Music Chronicles’ December issue back in 2015

 

And also on my own blog: https://barleystation.wordpress.com/2015/12/19/review-of-christmas-for-two/

Since that time Olivia has progressed even further as an artist and has honed even further her vocal and songwriting skills. Recently reaching a million plays on Spotify, her newer music bears out how far she’s grown since then.

Her voice still has that same special warmth to it but with a sultry yet still innocent sound that will capture your ears, heart, and will leave a memorable impression when you hear it.  I compared her voice before, in a sense to that of Nora Jones, or Colbie Caillet.  In fact, since the last review, Olivia was able to be mentored by Colbie Caillet after winning teen artist of the year in the Starlight Music Chronicles “Artist of the Year Contest” in 2016.

As a winner, Olivia got to attend ArtistMax an Artist Development program in L.A. in March 2017. Artist Max was dreamed up by legendary producer and engineer Ken Caillet (Fleetwood Mac Rumours) and was mentored there by Ken and Colbie Caillet, and David Foster in L.A..

Link to Dream You Home on Spotify:
https://open.spotify.com/album/69E17KNMwKzhFSPRHKNHQU

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OliviaMusicLive/

Website: https://www.oliviamusiclive.com/

YouTube Lyrics Video: https://youtu.be/Fp6F0TAK1AI

Olivia Penalva SMC 2016 TEEN Artist of the Year

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/dream-you-home/1300720379?i=1300720661