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REVIEW: 'SOOTHE' by Shambhu

"Soothe" is the perfect title for a tranquil new album from new age guitarist Shambhu, aka Neil

Vineberg. The album's nine tracks, eight Shambhu originals and an imaginative cover of a George Gershwin tune, were recorded at Magic Cottage Studios in the bucolic San Geronimo Valley town of Lagunitas, California.

The opening track, "Knowingness," features Ravichandra Kulur on bamboo flute and a coda by Mother Nature herself - the gentle sound of rain captured outside the windows during recording. Shambhu, playing acoustic and electric guitars, six-string ukulele and electric marimba and sitar, assembled a stellar instrumental ensemble of new age and world music musicians, including bassist Michael Manring, keyboardist Frank Martin, Premik Russell Tubbs on soprano sax and wind synthesizer, percussionist Jeff Haynes and Gurumurthy V on tabla. Todd Boston, who co-produced "Soothe," Shambhu's third contemporary instrumental album, plays slide guitar on the meditative "Devotion Tears."

Paul McCandless, one of the founders of the pioneering acoustic jazz group Oregon, weaves lovely melody lines on soprano saxophone through the tapestry of Shambhu's guitar work on the beautifully-titled "Days Like Falling Stars" and the delightfully frenetic "Through New Eyes." Shambhu, a consummate guitarist who played on Whitney Houston's multiplatinum album "Whitney," co-wrote "Soothe's" first single, "Gaia Sweet Divine," with Kristin Hoffman, who celebrates the natural world on the tune, gently singing, "Nature's song dancing free/Lifting souls joyfully/Nature's song planting seeds/In our hearts/Love and peace." Saxophonist George Brooks is showcased on soprano sax on Gershwin's "Prelude 2," artfully arranged by Shambhu.

Shambhu recorded "Soothe" as a peaceful aural antidote to the anxiety he's felt among his friends and musician cohorts since the November election. "Who is not feeling uneasy about the election?" he asked in a recent interview with Vents magazine. "Almost everyone I know is freaked out ... Music is a universal language that connects us regardless of politics. If you're upset by the election, the music on 'Soothe' can be a calming friend."

- Paul Liberatore, The Marin Independent Journal

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