The Review Zone – Jean Watson : Wonder @jean_watson12

jeanwatson-wonderwebJEAN WATSON : Wonder. (Shadowlands Music)

My introduction to Jean Watson’s music came when I positively reviewed her ‘Christmas … not the way it seems’ album for NFN back in 2014. Michigan-based but with strong connections with Ireland, this ten track album finds Jean’s lovely voice set against the usual excellent Celtic-influenced contemporary arrangements. Here however her Irish links are more strongly represented in the form of three Irish style folk instrumentals featuring her very capable violin playing. I have to say that this juxtaposition doesn’t really work for me – the upbeat ‘Cooley’s Reel’ for instance comes as a bit much of a contrast(!) and the high speed ‘Czardas’ which follows the beautifully delivered ‘It is well’ completely jars the senses! It is difficult to select one standout track – I found ‘Wonder’, ‘Blessed be your name’, Restless’ and (the already mentioned) ‘It is well’ equally enjoyable. ‘Everything can change’ from Jean’s 2009 album of that name is repeated here in the form of a piano and voice version that suffers from the lack of ‘build’ of the original. ‘Amazing grace’ brings nothing new to that well-loved hymn. I listened in CD quality via ‘Tidal’ and the sound really is very good – including lovely deep bass available for those whose speakers can reproduce it. A bit of a mixed bag, then. 7/10. Dave Deeks

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The Wonder of Jean Watson

Jean Watson

Internationally acclaimed recording artist JEAN WATSON is thrilled to announce the release of her highly anticipated new CD, WONDER. “The music on WONDER is the most authentically ‘me’ music I have ever recorded,” Watson says. “I believe the music is quite accessible to both the faith-based and general markets, and the opportunity to partner with Naxos to get the music into the hands of music lovers is huge. Naxos has great reach into the world music marketplace, so for the first time, my music has the possibility to be offered to audiences beyond the Christian market,” she continues. “How amazing to think that people may listen to this music because they love the sound and be drawn closer to God in the process!”   Jean Watson is excited to have Michael W. Smith as a special guest on her new CD, WONDER. Smith played piano for Watson’s recording of his song, “I Can Hear Your Voice.”Producer Billy Smiley, who has worked with Watson on her last two projects, suggested highlighting her Celtic-flavored songs and ethereal violin performances on the new CD and moving toward a more world music sound. In doing so, Watson discovered a glorious opportunity to simply be herself, both artistically and spiritually.

Sporting a world music sound that falls lithely between the ethereal, yearning Celtic sound of Maire Brennan and the graceful, poetic lyricism of Enya, Watson deftly tightwalks a line that stretches between ancient themes of grace and mercy, and is anchored by contemporary declarations of worship and adoration. In keeping with the world music direction of WONDER, Watson has enlisted the services of a number of musicians from around the globe, including South African John Ellis of Tree63 and former Newsboys drummer Peter Furler from Australia. Steve Hindalong from The Choir provides percussion, and as a special treat, Christian music legend Michael W. Smith appears as a guest accompanist as Watson performs Smith’s hit, “I Can Hear Your Voice.”

Worship Project for Jean Watson

Jean Watson

Internationally acclaimed singer, songwriter and classically trained violinist JEAN WATSON has been in the studio putting the finishing touches on her highly anticipated worship project. The as-yet-untitled project is slated for release in July 2016 through Shadowlands Music and New Day Distribution. “I’m incredibly excited about this new project,” declares Watson. “It’s the first time I’ve done a completely worship-focused project, and I believe it conveys the most authentic ‘Jean Watson’ sound I’ve ever created.” The project features the celebrated singer/songwriter’s signature Celtic-infused violin and haunting vocals, and producer Billy Smiley chose to emphasize Watson’s ethereal, World Music sound, truly capturing the soul of who she is as an artist.

Review Xtra – Jean Watson : Steady My Gaze @jean_watson12

Jean Watson Steady My GazeJEAN WATSON : Steady My Gaze. (Shadowlands Music)

This album has a kind of Celtic folky feel about it in general, despite the fact that a lot of the tracks are quite up tempo. The songs on this CD remind me a bit of Maria McKee, so if you are familiar with her music you’ll probably like this CD. The lyrics are well written, and seem to bring an encouraging theme about relationship with God. Phil Keaggy plays guitar on a couple of the tracks, “Speeding Train” has got his unmistakable style running all the way through it, while the final track “Overcome” is an acoustic version of the opening track, featuring some nice violin, and Phil Keaggy again, this time on acoustic guitar. There’s a nice version of “Be Thou My Vision” on this album too. Personally I wouldn’t have bothered with “Lord Of The Dance” though. It doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the album. However that song aside this is quite a nice CD to listen to. There is enough variation to keep you interested all the way through. Certainly worth a listen if you get the chance.   8/10   Andy Sayner.

The Review Zone – JEAN WATSON : Christmas… Not the Way it Seems.

JEAN WATSON Christmas Not the Way it Seems.JEAN WATSON : Christmas… Not the Way it Seems.   (Shadowlands : 8972)

Blessed with a beautifully pure singing voice as well as being a classically trained violinist, here we have the second Christmas album from Michigan-based Jean Watson. With more ‘upbeat’ content than the earlier ‘Christmas Presence’ release, ‘Christmas… not the way it seems’ again presents the listener with excellent arrangements, nicely played, with Jean’s voice appropriately spotlighted, and great sound quality. The mostly traditional songs are largely treated to sympathetic re-workings, many of which incorporate a sort of Celtic / contemporary folk feel (possibly influenced by Jean’s numerous trips to Ireland), and pretty well succeed in keeping the songs interesting by bringing sufficient freshness to the well-worn melodies. For me the least successful track is the slightly plodding ‘God rest ye merry gentlemen’. A stand-out for me however that especially shows off Jean’s voice is probably ‘O holy night’ (listen to her nail that high note near the end!). The band version closer ‘Do you hear what I hear?’ is another highlight. The only original song ‘Not the way it seems’ builds to a great climax, is written by Noel Regney and Jean, and explains the title of this cd/download. An enjoyable listen. 8/10. Dave Deeks

More News with United Pursuit, Clannad, Chris Tomlin, Sandi Patty and Jean Watson

United Pursuit Endless YearsELEVATION RELEASES….. ‘Endless Years’ comprises 15 tracks of fresh new worship from UNITED PURSUIT, a musical collective of friends bringing out a folky, gospel/soul sound for a new generation….. ‘Live at the Banks House’ is also released by UNITED PURSUIT. “When asked about how I write songs, I’ve always been quick to explain that I learned how to lead worship in a living room. And most of the songs I’ve written have come out of one living room in particular, a living room in a house we call the banks house. This album is an attempt at capturing our experiences the past three years learning how to seek God in the safety and stillness of our home.” We pray these songs awaken your soul to the love of God and cause you to begin to dream of what it means to pursue God and one another.” Will Reagan…..NEW WINE KIDS “Stand Together” features songs that worship leader, Neil Bennetts hopes will “spill into the everyday lives of children and local churches in this country”…..Meanwhile, from passionate, all consuming praise, to gentle intimacy where you can reach out and touch Jesus, NEW WINE KIDS “Get Up & Dance” features music to facilitate Spirit filled worship…..From the Keswick Convention comes ‘PRECIOUS MOMENTS 5 & 6’. Live inspirational worship to help reflect on our awesome God.

A CD & DVD filmed at the Royal Albert Hall, with the All Souls Orchestra has been released. ‘Prom Praise: Majesty’ includes guest appearances from Paul Baloche, Martin Smith and Graham Kendrick as well as soprano Helen-Jane Howells and violinist Rebecca Eves.

CLANNAD are undertaking an 18 date tour of the UK and Ireland in October/November. They will be touring with their full original line-up – siblings Moya, Ciarán and Pól Brennan and their twin uncles Noel and Pádraig Duggan. http://www.clannad.ie/news/article.html?id=69

The eagerly awaited new album by CHRIS TOMLIN will be released on 27th October. ‘Love Ran Red’ was produced by longtime friend and collaborator Ed Cash and features songs penned by Tomlin, Cash, Matt Redman, Jonah Myrin, Ben Glover, Jason Ingram and Ben Fielding. A special Deluxe Edition will feature the full-length studio album plus four additional tracks.

US inspirational star SANDI PATTY will release a Christmas album via Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Target. ‘Christmas Blessings’ features brand new recordings of Christmas classics and the original song, co-written by Patty, “The Little Things”

Jean WatsonGospel Music Hall of Famer and guitar virtuoso Phil Keaggy has joined Shadowlands recording artist JEAN WATSON on the Celtic-infused project, Christmas…Not The Way It Seems. Watson enlisted Keaggy’s talents on the lead single, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Keaggy also joined the classically trained singer/songwriter and violinist on the video for the single, which was directed by award-winning director and producer Ben Pearson (Blue Like Jazz). Christmas…Not The Way It Seems will be released October 14 through Shadowlands and Elevate Entertainment. Watson, the first artist signed to the indie Shadowlands label, brought in Grammy Award-nominated producer Billy Smiley to produce the 11-song collection of angelic Christmas favorites.