Beyond the Clearing included in Michael's Favorites of 2016.
Beyond the Clearing reached #2 on the Zone Music Reporter Top 100 Radio Airplay Chart for the month of February!
Beyond the Clearing reached #2 on the Zone Music Reporter Top 100 Radio Airplay Chart for the month of January!
Beyond the Clearing reached #21 on Best of Echoes Radio Top 25 for February 2016!
Beyond the Clearing reached #6 on the OWMR Top 100 Chart for February!
Beyond The Clearing Reviewed
Beyond The Clearing is Robert Linton’s third studio release. My introduction to Robert was the track “Aside the River Bed.” It was featured on our Rate The Tracks site. His delicate guitar playing led me along the river and I felt like I was there, one with nature.
If music moves you enough to be picturesque then it is doing what intends to. Instrumental tracks must create something other than an auditory experience for the listener. Without words there is no story right? This is not always the case when someone knows how to deliver a message with music alone. Mr. Linton accomplishes this with a flair and excellence on Beyond The Clearing.
“Lingering Rustle” certainly holds a meaning. It is a sound, perhaps a feeling one has, something is moving and trying to tell you something. That lingering could be a feeling you have internally, whether it’s an urging, a rumbling in the stomach or just a voice within giving you direction. That fact that it is lingering indicates that it will not go away unless addressed. This song is very gentle in its approach and Robert
paints the sky with the gentle pastels of his decisive guitar lines. Other instruments come into the picture and are then sprinkled in ever so slightly to accentuate the atmosphere and sincere feeling of the track.
As always I leave the interpretation of each song to each individuals own perception. I look at the CD cover, the title of the track and listen intently then put all of that together as each track develops and then I start feeling certain things and begin seeing a movie unfold in my mind’s eye. This can only happen with exceptional music and this album passed the test.
The title track is always significant and the artist holds up his end of that expectation with “Beyond The Clearing.” Once again gentle acoustic and melodic guitar lines whisper on the wind as it swirls around your being you begin to feel like you are melting into the scenery unfolding in your mind. It is the very essence of beauty and perfection much like the natural surroundings that Robert is standing in the middle of on the cover of this album. A man, his thoughts and his guitar take the barren hot desert and turn it into his own personal heaven. What was once looked at as a desolate and lonely place blooms into a haven of peace and solitude that a spiritual individual can appreciate and want to return to.
Beyond The Clearing is a work of art that an artist with a clear vision of what he wanted to present to a listening audience. The sheer beauty of one instrument leading you down the path of completion and satisfaction is what awaits you inside this music. The sounds and colors that paint this musical canvas are bright with life and the promise of a new day. What more could one ask from a recording?
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck- New Age Music Reviews Founder
January 20, 2016
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews
It was interesting to receive the new album by guitarist Robert Linton exactly on the fifth anniversary of my Music and Media Focus website, considering that his previous release, Throughout The Autumn Light was one of the first albums I had the pleasure to write about here. That release went on to do very well, garnering a number 2 spot on the ZMR Top 100 Radio Airplay charts, as well as a nomination for Best Instrumental Acoustic Album.
As I said of his playing on that album: “Robert Linton has the artistic acuity to convey a particular mood in a way that envelops the listener and draws them into his space for the duration of the recording. His guitar playing is sensitive, deft, and evocative, providing a gentle journey you’ll want to embark upon often. In fact, if you are looking for the perfect soundtrack for a mellow Sunday morning, you couldn’t do much better than this.” All of the wonderful qualities that made that album so likeable are found in abundance here on his new recording, Beyond The Clearing.
On this project, some previous musical relationships were renewed and some new one’s formed. Robert once again worked with well-known producer Corin Nelsen who mixed, mastered, and co-produced the album. Reprising their roles as accompanists are Jeff Oster (flugelhorn), Jill Haley (English horn), Jeff Pearce (Ebow guitar), and Stephen Katz (cello). Also joining Robert are Sara Milonovich (violin), Heidi Breyer (piano), Kitty Thompson (cello), and Adam Miller (guitar). Interestingly, each song on the album is a duet between Robert on guitar and one of the above-named accompanists. As I mentioned about his last album, Robert’s instrument of choice is the nylon string acoustic guitar, which he tends to pluck fingerstyle, rather than strum, providing a harp-like sonority, which I found quite heavenly and relaxing.
In my interview, I asked Robert how he would describe or classify his music, to which he replied: “As I’ve triedrobert linton to describe my music over the years I’ve settled with using simply instrumental guitar or New Age as the genre. New Age is familiar to most people yet I’ve wanted to define my music further into something more unique. As my music is being played, I would hope the people hearing it would take time to reflect on their own lives. I strive to evoke emotion with my music, providing a soundtrack to that moment. Taking these things into consideration I’ve mentioned my music as being ‘Reflective Instrumental’.”
So let’s reflect on the beautiful instrumental sounds found in Beyond the Clearing. The album opens with gentle grace on a track called “Aside the River Bend.” Robert’s peaceful flowing guitar, accompanied by violin creates the mood and sets the stage for the overall ambiance of the album. On the next track, “Gathering Over the Surface,” Robert is joined by one of my favorite pianists, Heidi Breyer, whose own music, I’ve always enjoyed listening to and writing about. Here, her contribution is both supportive and understated, allowing Robert’s guitar to be the primary voice. I particularly liked his chord progression on this piece and the dreamy atmosphere it creates.
Another of my favorite artists, Jeff Oster, is heard on track 3, “Lingering Rustle,” adding his trademark ambient horn playing. Jeff is a frequent collaborator with Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman and is a chart-topping artist in his own right, having worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry and garnered numerous accolades internationally. Here, his spacious and sweet horn lines drift peacefully over Robert’s pastoral melody. A more wistful air characterizes “Shadowing the Hillside” as Robert’s classically influenced guitar is accentuated by the soulful strains of cello.
While all of the songs on he album are exquisite, one that especially appealed to me as a guitarist was “A Distant Storm.” This track featured Robert in a duet with fellow acoustic guitarist Adam Miller, whose graceful lead lines intertwined so beautifully with Robert’s melody on this impressionistic composition. The piece also exhibited a perfect blend of sound and space. This balance is also maintained on the next song, the title track, which starts out as solo guitar for about the first third before being joined by the heartfelt violin playing of Sara Milonovich.
4-5-sunset-crescent-moonLong time Will Ackerman collaborator and studio musician Jill Haley adds her haunting English horn parts to the expansive “Stretching Across the Horizon.” A similar feel is evoked on “Amid the Stillness,” although this time in duet with cello played by Stephen Katz. However, the track I was most looking forward to was the final one. Entitled “Beneath the Cloudless Sky,” the piece features Robert’s duet with ambient guitarist Jeff Pearce, whose own highly regarded music I’ve had the pleasure of writing about. On this track, Jeff plays the electric guitar with an Ebow, which is a handheld electronic device that when held over the strings, makes them sustain as long as you want them to. While somewhat similar to the sound of a violin, with the addition of effects like reverb and digital delay, the effect is quite ethereal and made for an interesting contrast with the earthy sound of Roberts acoustic guitar.
Among the standout aspects of this album, as I’ve been mentioning, are Robert’s musical interactions with the various accompanists. I liked the way he chose just one musician to play with for each song. Each duet has its own unique characteristics, while maintaining the general tone and consistency of the album. I appreciate the subtlety and understatement in Robert’s songs, which are like pastel portraits in sound.
Music and Media Focus
January 14, 2016
I have much to thank Robert Linton for; his graceful release, Throughout the Autumn Light made my life easier to deal with in the latter half of 2013 and I always have very fond memories of that album. Now here we are two years later and once more I am sitting here bathed in late winter sun, listening to Robert and Beyond the Clearing.
As a guitarist I find it inspirational to hear a musician of such skill perform wonderfully emotive music. Take the opening track for instance, it’s called Aside the River Bend, it has vision, calmness and tenderness and one can easily imagine Linton performing out in nature as a slow and deep moving river drifts by.
Robert Linton is an artist of great accomplishment and can create such sensitive soundscapes by a simple heart felt desire to do so, listen to the peaceful vibes of Gathering Over the Surface, the additional piano is so respectfully played it adds to the dimensional quality of the track.
On Lingering Rustle a single leaf would be able to dance across the hedgerows to this delightfully sweet and delicate number. This arrangement, no doubt because of the additional horn used on it, gave me a feeling of a January sunset and as I watch the beautiful yellow orb outside my studio window creep below the horizon, I feel I am listening to the soundtrack of my moment, this is sheer bliss.
As a guitarist Linton is so careful and gentle and this can really be felt on the composition called Shadowing the Hillside. How redolent of now for me, as musical shadows pass through my mind and afternoon ones gather with a relish of nightfall outside, the attention to detail on this piece with the added inclusion of strings is amazing and has to be my favourite technically proficient track off the album, which even contains a hint of classical too, brilliantly arranged indeed.
There is nothing more exciting in nature than the impending atmosphere created by A Distant Storm and here on that very piece, Robert Linton manifests a sense of a strong and sullen storm brewing on the far off horizon, his stylish performance on this piece drives a very artistic narrative and we can almost see in music, a flash of lightning crackle over the hills, a gentle track, with an undercurrent of suspense, in a very stylishly creative performance.
We now move into the realm of the title track as Beyond the Clearing is upon us, the theme is piloted well by Linton and his gentle hand carries us along as he weaves an intricate path of quite sublime music. This seems to drift us back to and fro musically, in the same way a gentle summer tide would do on a deep blue ocean of acoustic sound. With the inclusion of the strings, this almost felt like a symphony all of its own and I found this one deeply moving.
The sun has now disappeared from my view and evening stretches its long arms around us and the deeper notes and chords of Linton’s guitar create a beautiful composition called Stretching Across the Horizon. This is an idyllic piece, Linton’s skills are so good, that they create a vista of loveliness right before our very eyes and one could easily be standing on some distant coastline watching the sun turn orange and drop into a sea filled horizon, this is simply stunning.
The penultimate track off the album is called Amid the Stillness, I wanted to be still to listen to this one, the fingers run over the fret with the skill of a master craftsman, the slow build and flow of this arrangement creates a stillness not only in music, but in our very souls as well.
Our last offering before we leave is called Beneath the Cloudless Sky, you will honestly not fail to be impressed by the mood on this piece, it has an Ariel essence to it, but remains rooted in nature. Robert Linton has created a vast soundscape here, but has made it so peaceful and safe to view from the sanctuary of his guitar.
Well two years may have passed, but Beyond the Clearing was well worth the wait to hear another Robert Linton album. I cannot recommend this album highly enough, listening to this with my guitarist hat on I feel inspired, as a music writer I feel fulfilled and very pleased, as a listener I feel incredibly peaceful and calm, so how many more reasons can I give you to suggest, you need to include this album in your collection?
One World Music
Beyond The Clearing provides a most peaceful and relaxing listening experience. The sound of Robert’s 15216_Cordoba_GK_Studio_1fingerstyle nylon string guitar exudes a softness and warmth that is different from the brighter tone of a steel string guitar. His compositions are visually and emotionally evocative, exhibiting enough diversity to keep it interesting, while maintaining the overall ambiance of the album. Robert’s deep affinity for musical expression comes through in his composing and playing, as well as in his words: “I love expressing myself through music and have a strong passion for playing yet one of the most fulfilling aspects of being a musician is hearing that my music has played a role in someone’s life. It means a lot to me that something I’ve created has had a profound effect on the listener.”
Beyond the Clearing is the fifth album from acoustic guitarist Robert Linton, following his critically-acclaimed 2011 release, Throughout the Autumn Light. Much like the earlier album, Beyond the Clearing is a collection of nine original pieces composed as duets for guitar and other instruments (piano, violin, flugelhorn, cello, English horn, a second guitar, and EBow guitar). The album features an impressive group of artists that includes Heidi Breyer, Jeff Oster, Jeff Pearce, and Jill Haley and was mixed and mastered by Corin Nelsen, one of the best in the biz. Linton’s finger-style nylon-string guitar playing is lyrical, melodic, and very relaxing. The quiet tone of the entire album makes it perfect for soothing background music, but give your ears a treat and listen it with full attention to savor the subtle nuances and gentle beauty of each piece. It is interesting to note that in 2012, Throughout the Autumn Light and Whisperings at Nightfall were added to the music library of The C.A.R.E. Channel, a program of Healing Healthcare Systems that is played in more than 700 leading hospitals around the country.
Beyond the Clearing begins with “Aside the River Bend,” a duet for guitar and violin (Sara Milonovich). Its peaceful, visual quality evokes images of a lazy river meandering through a quiet forest or rural setting - a lovely start! “Gathering Over the Surface” features one of my favorite pianists, Heidi Breyer, who adds tonal color and grace without calling much attention to herself - a gorgeous piece! “Lingering Rustle” is a duet with Jeff Oster on flugelhorn. Although the combination of instruments seems a little odd, the piece is warm and dreamy and works seamlessly. “Shadowing the Hillside,” a duet for guitar and cello (Kitty Thompson), is a favorite. Poignant and wistful, it suggests images in soft shades of gray. English horn virtuoso Jill Haley joins Linton on “Stretching Across the Horizon,” a piece that eloquently defines blissful tranquility without using a single word - a soothing mind massage and another favorite. “Beneath the Cloudless Sky” features another one of my favorite musicians, Jeff Pearce, playing EBow guitar. (The EBow is a hand-held electronic bow that replaces the pick, allowing the guitarist to mimic strings, horns, and woodwinds - Pearce is a master.) Ethereal and ambient, it’s a beautiful way to close this impressive album.
If you are looking for a great musical escape from the stresses of everyday life, Beyond the Clearing is an excellent choice! It is available from www.RobertLinton.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!