POSSIBILITY CD REVIEW by Judy Jennings
From Blogspot "Judy Jennings: Notes From Around Tucson"
“There were days I lost my way, and now I see
The way home revealed to me
In the Breath of Life, the Breath of Love
The breath we all breathe as One . . .
Where we are free, we are free”
What’s so unique about Amber Norgaard?
It’s no one thing in particular. It’s everything, together. While Norgaard is an accomplished songwriter, vocalist and pianist, the incredible magnetism of her music is to be found in the message it delivers. Norgaard is on a mission that’s “not about the money or the name,” and that “goes deeper than fame” (from “Alchemy”). Amber Norgaard’s mission is about using her musical talent as an instrument for healing on a mass level. “Possibility”, from its exuberant opening track to meditative outro, is a reflection of that intention.
“It feels like a communion with something bigger,” Norgaard says of “Possibility”, referring both to her message and to the spirit of collaboration that went into the making of the album. Co-produced by Norgaard and Steven Lee Tracy of Saint Cecilia Studios, “Possibility” is Norgaard’s most sophisticated effort to date. While four previous CDs provide an excellent platform for her uplifting lyrics and soaring vocals, “Possibility” marries that with powerful instrumentation and masterful studio mixing that lifts this album to another level.
As are most of Norgaard’s songs, “Possibility” is filled with metaphors based on the connection between human beings and the natural world. “Everything I experience goes into what I’m writing, from day to day interactions, to nature, to what’s going on in the world,” Norgaard says. “The life cycle continues on and on. A lot of that comes into my music.”
The title track is a celebration of spiritual and emotional release, symbolized by the hummingbird. Nick Coventry is uncanny in his channeling of the bird, with his swooping, insistent viola, vibrating against the soothing background of Michael G. Rondstadt’s cello. The bluesy breakdown in the middle of the song where the gospel choir comes in is one of the most fun parts of the album.
“Alchemy,” the first track, pays homage to Norgaard’s midwestern roots. In fact, the song is dedicated to her Dad, who’s still working the family farm in Iowa where she grew up. A rock and roll anthem about the power of the land and the power of choice, this song features Norgaard’s long-time band members Doug “Hurricane” Floyd wailing on guitar, Jay Trapp on bass, and Sabra Faulk on harmony vocals, along with Ralph Gilmore on drums and Steven Lee Tracy on the organ.
“Possibility” ranges from the intimate solo acoustics of “Made Of Light,” to Norgaard’s rewritten version of the classic “Morning Has Broken”, complete with a clapping, stomping choir finale, to the blue collar rock and roll of “Alchemy”.
One of the most powerful songs on the album, though, is a bluegrass-infused number that’s among Norgaard’s most recent songs.
When you think about it, Amber Norgaard has three fan bases; the folk-rock community, the spiritual community, and the community organizations with which she works. “Wide Open” is a song that plays to all three audiences. Big enough that anyone could read anything into it, this highly sing-able song might become a groovy hymn, or as Norgaard puts it, simply relate to a personal “journey of depth and resurrection.” Doug Floyd’s electric twang and the acoustic finger-picking of Joe Ferguson craft a joyful bluegrass sound through which Norgaard sings her way from darkness into light, and makes us believe we can do that, too.
“Possibility” is the result of a state of creative explosion that has consumed Amber Norgaard for the past year, a brilliant showcase for her evolving talent, and a promise that there’s more where that came from. Judging from Norgaard’s talent, dedication, and commitment to serving a higher purpose with her music, the possibilities seem limitless.
Used by permission. Copyright © 2015 by Judy Jennings.