Listening to Jerry Rockwell’s new EP “Starlight Variations” is like opening a magic box. The gentle but sharp sound of the dulcimer, combined with heartfelt and unpretentious composition, makes this into something truly unique – even divine. If you are new to Jerry Rockwell’s music, “Starlight Variations” EP is a great place to start.
Today it takes a lot to stand out, to be different. Meditation and relaxation albums are released every day, and most of them sound just about the same. The reason is simple; 80-90 % is made with the same industry standard synths, instruments and studio gear. Jerry Rockwell, on the other hand, is armed with his electric and acoustic dulcimer – instruments he has built himself. His style is contemplative and simplistic. It is an honest, no-nonsense sound. You can’t help being impressed by its beauty. Close your eyes, and you will experience how meditative it is.
Light Always Comes
First track is called “Light Always Comes”. It is a positive and welcoming song, each note is like a ray of light. Even a grey and cold day will feel warm when listening to this piece. I love the ending; it is a bit abrupt, transporting us effortlessly to the next song; “A Bright Field of Stars”. The song is just over 2,5 minute long, and is like an intro to the title track, making sure that we have our mind-set on stars and space.
Jerry’s version of the “Star of the County Down” is a small masterpiece! Notice the almost inaudible synth in the intro. It is a wonderful song with intricate layers of sound and a cool, friendly atmosphere. I love how it is both traditional and futuristic at the same time.
On “Restful Mind” we are in a deep state of meditation. The reverb gives the dulcimer a rich, never-ending sound. It is beautiful beyond words. I’m sure an album only with this sound only would be very successful. “One Life, Radiant” is something entirely different; a contemplative yet positive piece, reflecting on life here and now. It could have been played on acoustic guitar, but the dulcimer gives it a special kind of intensity.
“Safe Passage Round” is a short but elegant tune. It is there, totally in focus, and suddenly gone – much like a safe passage. “Slow Decent” represents, as the title implies, a movement. There’s almost a surround effect here; you feel the sound coming from different places. It is a very nice use of stereo. In the end there’s a special feeling of harmony and oneness.
What is the soundtrack of dreams? “Glenn’s Dreamscape” is one answer to that question. The song takes us to a friendly and tranquil place. There’s a wonderful gentleness to it, like a lullaby perhaps.
In conclusion: Just like the dulcimer itself, Jerry has built these songs on “Starlight Variations” with love and the skill of a master craftsman. It marked as an EP, but it plays as a whole, complete album. The songs are simplistic, bare and genuine. There’s a lot of variation in sound and expression, so putting it on replay is not a problem – it is mandatory! “Starlight Variations” is perfect for relaxation, reading or creative work.
Score: 95/100 – See how I rate music here
You can sample the EP on Jerry’s Rockwell’s homepage