The harp is seen as the national symbol of Ireland. It serves to represent the culture and heritage of the people of this great nation; however, as an instrument it is capable of so much more. Star Edwards and KingBeat’s latest album, “Sonic Travels”, showcases the versatility of this instrument in a beautifully crafted symphonic manner. The album title clearly expresses the concept they were trying to achieve as musically these musicians take the listener on a beautiful journey.
The opening track Barcelona Nights immediately makes one think of brightly colored dresses with young women dancing and old man picking out fantastic rhythms on guitars in the style of Flamenco Nuevo. This five-piece band orchestrates it so that this beat, the heart of Flamenco music, is ever present as the harp and guitar continuously trade back and forth taking the lead.
Next we are taken to Asia with the song appropriately titled, Chinese Farmers Tale. Once again, the rhythm of the piece and the staccato instrumentation immediately makes one think of that particular culture. In this piece, Kent Richardson uses the instrumentation of the group to really pull out some clear intonations to take us on this musical journey.
Following this, we have perhaps one of my favorite pieces, Waiting for Summer. It is upbeat and jazzy with a fun, almost swing, feel to it. I think of Ella Fitzgerald and kids playing on the sidewalk with water spraying from the fire hydrant. It still highlights the harp, but in a very unique and fun manner.
And the journey continues to St. Thomas, The Butterfly (a classic Irish tune), Cuando El Rey Nimrod, Jamaica Farewell and even in our dreams with Dream time Journeys. Through all of these pieces and more Star Edwards and KingBeat flaunt their incredible talent by capturing the listeners ear and taking them on an evocative journey. They call what they do World Harp Music, and they certainly don’t lie. While some may make this claim and only stick their toe off of the Emerald Isle, these musicians explore these other cultures deeply. This album is certainly worth the purchase.
Stephen Mc Sweeney is a High School English/Drama teacher. Besides writing for the Celtic Music Magazine, he enjoys acting, writing and playing Celtic music. He can be seen as one of the members of the band Terrible Musicians, where he plays percussion and mandolin.