CD: Sanctuary ll: Earth
Artist: Sherry Finzer

The photo of Sherry with angel wings on the cover of her latest release is certainly appropriate, since the music contained within could well be described as “heavenly.” Entitled “Sanctuary ll: Earth” it marks the second in her series of new age relaxation music. I had the pleasure of reviewing the first release, “Sanctuary” here in Music and Media Focus, and I’m happy to spread the word about her latest offering. While there are some things in common with the original recording, there are also some differences. Sherry is well known for her talent and versatility on the flute and she plays a variety of them, both in her live performances with a number of different ensembles, as well as on her recordings. However on this album, it is the alto flute in particular that is heard on all the tracks.


The ambience of this CD is very meditative, almost Zen-like in its simplicity and spaciousness, and forgoes the rhythmic and ethnic elements that made occasional appearances on her previous release. The goal of the album is to provide a gentle soundtrack for relaxation, meditation, and yoga. In Sherry’s words: “This CD reaches deep into the soul to bring about an emotional release and healing.” With song titles like “Earth,” “Tranquil Waters,” “Woodlands,” “Dawn’s First Light,” and “Redwoods” it’s clear that the music is inspired by and reflects the beauty of the natural world.


Opening with the title song, Sherry is accompanied by Darin Mahoney on acoustic guitar played through a delay effect, which allows the notes to hang suspended in space momentarily before trailing off into the distance like echoes through a canyon. Long lingering flute phrases float gracefully over and in between the spaces. A music video of this song paired with beautiful nature photography can be seen at Sherry’s website. As the title of the second track, “Dream Flight” implies, the feeling of flying in a dream was the inspiration for this piece, which is the longest on the album at over nine and a half minutes. Taking wings over a subtle synthesizer soundscape, Sherry’s flute glides and soars on drifting musical air currents. Throughout the album I was aware of how delicate and supportive the accompanying instrumentation was, never drawing your attention away from the flute’s sweet song.


Spirits having flown, the sound of a babbling brook brings the listener back to earth as track three, “Tranquil Waters” begins to flow. The aforementioned understated keyboards provide a languid liquid undercurrent to the track which feature the alto flute enhanced with ethereal echo and reverb. Sounds of birds and crickets greet us as we depart the waters for “Woodlands” on the fourth track. A subdued electronic background blends interestingly as Sherry is joined once again by Darin Mahoney on acoustic guitar. The interplay is sublime and for me, conjured a picture of shafts of light filtering through the leaves onto lush ferns and moss on the forest floor.


“Dawn’s First Light” illuminates a more minimalistic yet expansive musical vision that is sculpted of equal parts space and sound… a peaceful portrayal of the early morning sky beginning to lighten as the rays of the sun, ascend over the horizon. Bringing the album to an appropriately majestic ending is “Redwoods,” which was composed and performed by Ric Flauding for Sherry’s Desert Journey CD, and has been specially remixed for “Sanctuary ll: Earth.”  It was a perfect artistic decision to save this one for last in that it has the most melodic and textural content, and features a bit more instrumental interplay with keyboard strings and choirs, acoustic guitar, and flute, exhibiting a sense of grandeur befitting its name.


Whether performing or recording as a solo artist on her own Phoenix-based Heart Dance Record label or playing with her two groups: Radiant Sky and dulce Vas, Sherry paints from an eclectic musical palette. In addition to being a Pearl Flute Performing Artist, and Grammy nominee, she travels nationally and internationally, to perform at diverse venues. They say that good things come in threes, so I’ll be looking forward to soul-soothing sounds of “Sanctuary lll” in the hopefully not too distant future.