I don't listen to music. Not the radio, not cd's. Nope. Nothing...........Except your CD! It's been in my CD player for weeks now and I enjoy it often, OFTEN!! The harmonies are so light and beautiful, and yet sometimes complex and surprising! There are SO many different instruments that delightfully peek in for cameo's. I just love each one! The lyrics are alternatively bouncy and fun ("Yak Butter Blues") and penetratingly thoughtful ("Land of My Tears" and "Will There Really be a Morning?”). You ladies have a vocal quality and blend that is rare! I am THOROUGHLY enjoying each song again and again!!!  ” - Evelyn Page, Page House Concerts, Liberty Hill, TX, and Trailside House Concerts, Round Rock, TX

— Suite Journey Email

Suite Journey - 'TIBET Land of My Tears' Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.   In this morning’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be shining our light on an act that’s rather peculiar, the collaboration of Billie Woods and Deborah Schmidt: Suite Journey. There’s an immense amount of creative energy and talent between the two, and their chemistry is only strengthened by a creative partnership that clearly extends into a deeply personal friendship. Their latest studio endeavor, ‘TIBET Land of My Tears,’ is a remarkably eccentric collection of songs inspired by the duo’s travels in Nepal and Tibet.     Throughout their journey, both Woods and Schmidt discovered a deep love and understanding of Tibetan culture, something that fostered a desire to make a difference in the only way they know how: through music. 50% of all sales of both the album and its corresponding merchandise are being donated to organizations that help preserve and support Tibetans in their country. It’s a labor of love, one that utilizes a genre-defying palette of sound to convey its passion. Let’s get into it.   Suite Journey describes ‘TIBET Land of My Tears’ as an ‘eclectic fusion of world music: from classical to Celtic to Native American.’ Each track is combined with a liner note-like story as to how the two came about the song. The easy-going, intensely enjoyable ‘Qomolangma (Everest)’ opens up the record with defiant prowess, exhibiting incredible talent between the two. Wood’s flute lead is accentuated beautifully by Schmidt’s classical guitar with a very sparse, but effective acoustic percussion backing. The song feels spiritual in nature, calling upon a variety of genres to evoke a hauntingly beautiful and uplifting soundscape.   ‘Yak Butter Blues,’ the second track in the collection, drastically shifts direction from the opening tune, showcasing an entirely new level of instrumental intrigue on behalf of Suite Journey. The two women harmonize with one another, with Woods providing some incredible lead vocals. It’s a jazzy tune, something that clarinetist Michael Austin truly brings to life. Of the myriad of factors that make ‘TIBET Land of My Tears’ a wonderful experience, the compositional variety is likely the most important. As soon as you hit the next track, ‘Terdan Nunnery,’ you’re revisited by that breathtaking flute. I’d go as far to argue that ‘Nunnery’ is one of the best songs on the album, embodying just about everything that makes Suite Journey so superb.   “The Tibetan way of life [is] harsh, yet simple and so beautiful,” Suite Journey pens on their website. The title track exudes the duo’s feelings about the country, as Woods croons over a remarkable piano piece accented by a fretless bass piece. The poignant piece is the emotional focal point of the experience, and everything around it seems to be continually energized by its presence. As is the case with ‘Trekking,’ the following track that returns to the pastures of that mesmerizing flute.     ‘INS [Inion Ni Scannlain]’ was the most special moment of my personal endeavor through Suite Journey’s new album. When I first listened to it, I was donning noise-cancelling, studio-grade headphones while gazing out a fast moving train window. The instrumentation has so much depth to it, so much meaning and poise. Even though I was just watching the Illinois countryside, I felt a sense of unique wonder and harmony. Considering the song was actually written about that feeling atop the Himalayas, I’d say Suite Journey captured that feeling in a bottle on this track.   ‘Will There Really Be a Morning?’ is a song that feels more like a lullaby than anything, once again proving that while Suite Journey’s strongest pursuits may be their introspective instrumentals, the vocal-laden tracks are intensely memorable as well. ‘Unknown Blessings’ is one of the best of those tracks, and its the first that Schmidt takes the vocal reins on. This track is nothing short of exceptional.   Harp is one of the most underrated instruments. It’s such a wonderful instrument and it never gets its fair share of use. Fortunately, Woods takes to the instrument on ‘SamTen’ to add the only factor that could make Schmidt’s flute even more beautiful. The combination of two and a guest cellist creates magic. ‘The Water Is Wide’ follows it up, the first duet on the album. I love hearing the duo share equal presence; they both possess such exciting voices and they harmonize fantastically.     ‘Windhorse’ is a fine instrumental to finish out the style’s presence on the record, one that continues to highlight the importance of the flute/classical guitar dance. Then, ‘Peace Peace Peace’ a hymn-like finale that sounds exactly as you’d expect, closes it all out. It’s a soft and tranquil ending that sounds like something the late George Harrison would have written.   Suite Journey is one of the most compelling and fascinating duos I’ve ever seen in independent music. They’re absolutely special, and so worth your time. Go listen to the album on their website!   http://suitejourney.com/index https://www.facebook.com/Suite-Journey-202093869864214/?ref=hl https://www.reverbnation.com/suitejourney https://twitter.com/SuiteJourney   ” - Brett Stewart

Independent Spotlight Blog -- Tilting Windmills Studio

SUITE JOURNEY – TIBET LAND OF MY TEARS Album Review   Jer@SBS   Suite Journey – TIBET Land Of My Tears – Album Review   Alright Suite Journey…I’ll be upfront and honest…I’m in a good mood & headspace writing this review…so I kinda figured I might have an easier time sliding into the fusion-music you make potentially as I started to listen…but I have to admit that the smile that came to my face soon afterwards was placed there solely by you and your music! There is not much about TIBET Land Of My Tears that is typically like much of anything I normally listen to…not out of any kind of objection…it’s just that music like this made in Suite Journey is a lot harder to find in our world. There’s not a single radio-hit on this entire album Suite Journey – are you trying to convince us all that maybe, just maybe, there might be several reasons we’d want to make, create and write music other than to become rich & famous?   Don’t get me wrong…that’s not an insult and I’m certainly not telling the members of the band anything they don’t already know. The purpose here is one of passion and genuine communication…to connect to you through their love of their craft and share their beautiful experiences and life-stories through songs both with & without lyrics. The instrumentation flexes its uniqueness straight-away with “Qomolangma (Everest)” and its exotic-sounds and textures creating an entire atmosphere that immediately takes you away from the hustle & grind of your busy work-week into somewhere entirely beautiful. Well…okay…not just somewhere…Everest presumably from the title…you get what I mean…   The album gets pretty specific, very quickly – but this is also where the smile instantly came to my face. Listening to “Yak Butter Blues” I was grinning from ear to ear…because of:   The concept alone…”Yak Butter” made me chuckle…and then the idea of it being paired with the “Blues” made me chuckle more. I was trying to picture any other mood that Yak Butter might be able to come along with…from the outside perspective, any day with Yak Butter on my toast might be a day full of the blues…or at least I would have assumed! Where is our Best New Sound of 2014, West My Friend? That indie-folk band that you voted-in as your favourite sound of last year would ABSOLUTELY LOVE this band…especially this song in particular! Known for their own quirky tunes & lyrical-twists like on “The Cat Lady Song” – this playful tune of “Yak Butter Blues” completely reminded me of the Vancouver Island-based band – and that always makes me smile.   So…I mean…it’s not what you might expect…but we all have to write about something right? I keep saying we’ve all had enough of chicks & cars – and well, Suite Journey definitely understand that apparently…it has been over twenty years since I heard a brand-new song dedicated to Yaks you know…not since “The Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen” – so I’m with this duo…it’s high-time we brought the Yak BACK! Oh! And it also has great harmonies on “Yak Butter Blues” and solid musicianship once again…sorry…I got caught-up in being a yakass and forgot to comment on the groove & rhythm in this song almost entirely!   What’s also really cool about Suite Journey is that the album itself can be interacted with in many ways aside from simply listening to it. On their official site you’ll often find the lyrics…you’ll find the stories behind the beautiful songs like “Terdan Nunnery” and what inspires them. You can find out all the different flutes, harps and various instrumentation they incorporate into their sound…they’ve really made it all into one sweet Suite Journey. “Terdan Nunnery” is a solid-example of a story that’s worth the reading…as much of this music is based on real-life experiences and the way they’ve described these events on the page gives a real authentic-feel to their music when you listen. Loved the flute in “Terdan Nunnery” – it might not be a mainstream-radio thing happening here, but you can’t deny a strong hook when you hear one.   “Land Of My Tears” is another song that really communicates the genuine emotions felt on their trip to Tibet. Led with a forlorn & melancholy sound to the piano…this song reflects the struggle between embracing the surrounding beauty in the atmosphere versus the brutal state of the social-climate in one of the world’s most gorgeous environments that has been consistently oppressed for decades. Billie sings sweetly over the piano and the harmonies laid underneath are equally fantastic…great melody to the song and it’s certainly convincing through the performance…you can hear she’s very connected to the emotion in these words.   What I really liked about this record was that the instrumentals were equally powerful and interesting to listen to. “Trekking” comes out sounding bold & bright with a flute-led song from Billie Woods sounding fantastic and the classical-guitar from Deborah perfectly complimenting the lead melody. Additional smooth-bass from the fretless coming courtesy of Jeff Stocki and truly inventive percussion via Jeffrey Glenn Tveraas all rounded this instrumental out to becoming one of my favourite tunes on this record. Overall, this entire album has really been an adventure and unique experience; one that really reflects the memories of the journeys, adventures and experiences that they’ve actually had in vivid detail, with or without words. The following tune, “INS (Inion Ni Scannlain)” is more than the proof you need of that statement – written from the perspective of soaring high above the clouds and seeing the peaks of the Himalayan mountains poke through in their majestic and awe-inspiring view. Another of my favourites from this record, providing a really strong mid-section to TIBET Land Of My Tears by coming directly after “Trekking.” The core-duo of Suite Journey in Deborah Schmidt and Billie Woods stand out beautifully here on “INS (Inion Ni Scannlain)” with a combination of guitar and piano that perfectly mirrors the view they describe in their story behind the song on their website.   “Will There Really Be A Morning?” definitely puts the harp in the spotlight for a moment as this sweet, longing-tune works its magic. This song deals with the difficult emotions in feeling the distance between being wanted and unwanted upon their journey as Westerners well-outside of their region. Places as sacred as Tibet aren’t exactly easy places for North Americans to just walk-around as you would at home – and I think they did a great job of translating that feeling of isolation in a beautiful place on “Will There Really Be A Morning?” It feels a little theatrical…a little more dramatic in the performance…but still completely heartfelt & sincere…and I dig that.   For myself personally…”Unknown Blessings” allowed us to hear the most confident-version of Deborah in her vocals – she is bold, bright and beautiful on this song. When she hits the top of her register, it sounds magical…she never misses and stays in perfect pitch and angelic-tones all throughout this song. I liked how when she’d drift-off from the chorus that Billie would take over with the Native American Flute sounding equally gorgeous as it takes on the main melody-line instrumentally. A song built on the best of intentions – Suite Journey sparkles with beauty & brilliance on “Unknown Blessings.”   Paying homage to their guide through Tibet, “SamTen” sounds as respectful as it’s intended to be. The story describes the tale of their stoic guide having a moment of sad-reflection as he watched the ignorance of their culture being flaunted before him. You can definitely tell from the tale just how much Suite Journey respected “SamTen” and how they felt what he felt that day…and through the music you can feel them communicating what they saw and felt through the emotion in the music. I gotta admit…I’m loving reading about these songs almost as much as hearing them – it really does put a sound/song like this into context for you and helps the brain understand the underlying subtext within the instrumentals.   “The Water Is Wide” takes the music back to a more serene, gentle-nature. Truly tender in its melody, vocal-flow and harp…the singing takes the spotlight throughout this sweet song. With both Billie and Deborah taking solid turns on the lead vocals of this traditional English folk-tune, it comes out sounding really unified as it builds upon itself to the end. It’s again, sincere, honestly-approached and innocent-sounding – they’ve nailed their harmonies and sound fantastic together.   Returning to the instrumental-side of Suite Journey for “Windhorse” – this track is completely groovy in its simplistic flute/guitar led melody. Great rhythm to it and a subtle-switch in the latter half that creates a smoothness to the sound – excellent progressions, instincts and choices in the last instrumental on the album before it heads into the final song “Peace Peace Peace.” And with grace, beauty and a summation of their experience and life-statement on display, Suite Journey put their most harmonious sound right here at the album’s end. The guitar is wonderfully-played…but the vocals truly step further and further into the light as the track plays on, gaining a more confident, rich & beautiful tone right to its final moments. TIBET Land Of My Tears was a beautifully unique and captivating experience, pleasant and inviting all the way through.   Find out more from their official page at: http://suitejourney.com       ” - Jer @ SBS

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