Have you noticed how a conversation between good friends has a certain sound? Listening to Brothers by Will Ackerman, Jeff Oster, and Tom Eaton, that unique sound is something that the listener can sense on each track. Even though they are not talking or singing, trust, love, and respect seem to hang in the studio air. Each track is an homage to their friendship and to the musical expression they share. Brothers is a touching and uplifting album, making the listener feel a deep sense of belonging. That is a rare quality!
Will Ackerman is a Grammy Award-winning acoustic guitar player and the founder of Windham Hill Records. He currently runs Imaginary Road Studio. Jeff Oster specializes in flugelhorn and trumpet. He is a three-time winner of the Independent Music Awards and a ten-time winner of the Zone Music Reporter Awards. Tom Eaton is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, and engineer. He is known as a co-producer with Will Ackerman at Imaginary Road Studio.
All three artists mentioned above can be heard on the albums by the group FLOW. Also, fans of Windham Hill Records will recognize the atmosphere in the cover artwork. The bare and open landscape, with the trees as a contrast – which somehow adds a human touch – has a 1980s charm, reminiscent of Ackerman’s Passage (1981) or Imaginary Roads (1988).
The album opener is called Wild Bird. It starts gently with Ackerman’s guitar, Oster’s flugelhorn, and then Eaton’s piano. The soundscape is delightfully acoustic, bare, and honest. It has a sound all fans of Windham Hill Records will recognize. Imaginary Road Studios does a fantastic job in developing this soundscape further. Wild Bird is a terrific opener!
The finest piece on the album is track number two, The Golden Hour. Oster’s flugelhorn shines like a red and soft sun, illuminating the listener with its brilliance. Ackerman and Eaton back the slow and contemplative melody nicely. The Golden Hour alone establishes Brothers both as an album – and as a band. Bravo!
While There’s Time
Next out is While There’s Time. The title aside, there is no sense of urgency here. If I were to define its atmosphere, I would use the word gratitude. The melody is warm, generous, and perhaps even playful. It describes a moment of total harmony. The same is true for Head For The Sky. The dreamy, high-flying piece gives the impression of flying. It is beautiful beyond words.
Three Trees takes the album in a new direction. It is a bit darker. I don’t know if the trees symbolize the three artists and “brothers,” but it does a fine job in describing something solid and lasting. The Confluence contains gorgeous Rhodes keys mixed with piano and guitar modulation and flugelhorn on top of that. It is incredibly relaxing.
Nearer the end, the deterministic It Had To Be Like That communicates a feeling of closure and peace – before You Make My Heart rounds off the album beautifully.
In conclusion: “We came into this world like brother and brother; And now, let’s go hand in hand, not one before another,” William Shakespeare said (No fear, Act 5, Scene 1.) The attitude of love and respect, translated into music, makes Brothers into a one-of-a-kind release. All three – Ackerman, Oster, and Eaton – are needed to create this sound. If one were away, it wouldn’t be the same. That is the definition of Brothers, both with a small and a capital B.
Above I wrote that conversations between friends have a certain sound. But, listening to Brothers, I’m tempted to say that a heart-to-heart talk between friends has a noticeable rhythm too – making it possible to pick up right where you left off, weeks, months, and sometimes years later. That rhythm, that dance between friends and like-minded souls, is easy to sense when listening to Eaton, Oster, and Ackerman.
Brothers is, in short, a phenomenal album! Pieces like The Golden Hour, The Confluence, and You Make My Heart will add a positive and warm atmosphere to any playlist. Its acoustic sound gives it broad appeal, far beyond the New Age music realm.
The album is available on Bandcamp.