Healing Music Volume 2
By Bill Binkelman for Zone Music Reporter
Valerie Romanoff is a musician with two personas, which she describes via her Valrock Music catalogue as STILL, CHILL, THRILL. The “thrill” aspect is addressed when she tours and plays live with her groove/dance-oriented band, SPIRIT JAM. The other two sides to her musical oeuvre are covered, and exemplified I might add, by the music on Healing Music Volume 2. There are some gentle, serene “still” pieces and also some more energetic but-not-overly-so “chill” tracks. Believe it or not, the mixture works, i.e. the transition from a still track to a chill one does not happen abruptly and, to be honest, I sometimes have to look at the CD digipack to see if I am in one “mode” or the other” (although as a chill track revs up, it becomes more apparent and obvious).
Romanoff plays guitar, piano and synth and is joined by Tom Rossi on flute, kora, and percussion and sitar maestro Stevin McNamara. If you surmised by the latter’s appearance that the music will have an Indian flair to it, pat yourself on the back. Some of the album does indeed have a strong Indian influence. Besides McNamara’s sitar, Rossi plays tamboura drone and tabla and his flute is, unless I am mistaken, bansuri. Yet, owing to Romanoff’s guitar, the sound is definitely more a fusion of Indian with new age/folk, a dash of blues, and even a bit of rock (not a lot of the latter and what is there is damned tasty!). The first two songs, “Pink Skies Over Still Water” and “Pink Skies Over Waves” feature a stronger Indian presence than some of the other remaining six tracks. However, even those two pieces, while starting off in a close-to-authentic world beat scenario do evolve as Romanoff intersperses her acoustic guitar runs (and she can surely play
The latter one, “Dawn of Tao” is flagged as both “still” and “chill,” and it does a lot of the latter. In fact, as I listened to it, I flashbacked to the late ’60s when bands from the San Francisco scene frequently (especially when playing live) featured extensive jams in the middle of songs. Back then, fans were divided in how they felt about these “jam sessions,” but I always liked them, and I like this one a lot. On this track, Romanoff takes out her electric guitar and “duets herself” on piano. The song starts off in a sedate vein and eventually starts to cook with some truly delicious guitar licks, settles back down, and then revs up again. Let me clarify though that “revving up” here is not “Stairway to Heaven” revving up, but it is more uptempo and “cheery” than the other music here. As I stated earlier, all eight tracks have a cohesion that makes the album “play through” with ease.
I loved delving deep into the heart of Healing Music Volume 2 and discovering that, as it unfolded through multiple playings, I kept hearing something new each and every time. Whether you want to be still or just chill, Valerie Romanoff has you covered.