CD: The Maiden Of Stonehenge
Artist: Michael Brant DeMaria

With this being the fourth CD by Michael Brant DeMaria that I’ve had the pleasure to write about, the one thing I’ve learned to expect is the unexpected. Michael, who is an award winning composer/ instrumentalist and three time GRAMMY nominee is not an artist who is easily pigeon holed. His music can vary stylistically from one project to the next – each reflecting a different facet of his seemingly endless and diverse creativity.  From the earthy ambience of his Gaia CD to the ethereal electronic explorations of his recent album Bindu, Michael never fails to surprise and delight. His newest release, The Maiden of Stonehenge, follows a change of direction and charts a course for the Celtic Isles.


I’d been hearing for a while about a play by this same name produced last spring at a theatre in Florida by Michael and his co-creator. Stephen C. Lott, who “helped inspire the music and craft the story that gave birth to it” The show sounded intriguing and I wished I could have seen it. But The Maiden Of Stonehenge CD is the soundtrack from the play, so at least a taste of it is available to a wider audience. The liner notes also trace the story line for each song. It has been described as: “a moving musical odyssey that portrays the riveting story of a young girl coming of age in ancient Britain. In an adventure of self-discovery, young Teagan journeys across a mythic land full of wild and wondrous creatures. An abandoned orphan girl, left to fend for herself, learns the healing powers of nature, water and her own voice as she finds her way to the mysterious Circle of Stones.”


The theatrical production was four years in the making and marks a major accomplishment in Michael’s already successful musical career. The inspiration for the play came to him in 1997 while on a lofty spiritual retreat at 12,000 feet in San Miguel Mountains. As an instrumentalist, Michael is well known for his native flute and woodwind artistry. On this CD, he ventures into Celtic realms with the Low-D whistle and Hi-D whistle, as well as playing exotic wind instruments like the Fujara, Soljeflute, and Ultra Low G Drone flute. Michael also performs on various percussion, voice, piano, and synthesizers. Maggie Crain, a young vocalist with a hauntingly beautiful voice, provides a distinctive addition to Michael’s sound on two songs. She was also the lead in the play.


The curtain rises on “Lost Village,” in the days of yore where Teagan is feared and harshly treated by the locals for her strange powers. The music paints a misty portrait as a wistful flute melody hovers over a landscape of atmospheric synthesizer and a lute-like sound. I can imagine what a dramatic opening this must have been in the stage production with lighting and sets. The picture brightens on track 2 as a “Mysterious Stranger” rescues Teagan and takes her to the Circle Of Stones where she learns to use her power and is valued for it. The musical tone is light and airy with a minimalist feel that leaves room for the imagination to wander. Magic abounds in the “Enchanted Forest” where the sounds of nature blend with harp, flute, and synthesizers to cast their spell.


Maggie Crain makes her entry  on a song appropriately titled “Chantress.” Along with whispered words in an ancient tongue, her haunting voice evokes echoes of Enya. Michael’s free flowing piano melody sets the stage on “Moonlight Myst” as flute and airy choirs complete the picture. The energy shifts to an earthier vibe on “Trowie Mor” with deep drones, rattles, and drums. This feel extends into the next track, which kicks the rhythm up a notch. An interesting touch is the way Michael creates a kind of didgeridoo-like sound on a wooden flute. A song called “Natura” has an epic soundtrack ambience to it as it slowly builds in orchestration to a rousing climax before winding down at the end.


Having been a big fan of Michael’s Bindu CD, I particularly enjoyed track 10, “Spring Of Solace” which is a more celestial synthesizer soundscape that perfectly fits the song’s theme of spiritual rebirth. The album draws to a dramatic ending with “Stonehenge,” which is the second track spotlighting the sublime vocals of Maggie Crain. In this final scene, Teagan enters the Circle Of Stones and “taps into her inner well of strength and power and learns her true life’s purpose.” I found it heartening to discover a work of art such as this that provides inspiration in a world so full of superficial “entertainment.”  But its not surprising to come from someone like Michael who in addition to being a recording artist, is also a psychologist, author, and speaker who has devoted his life to the development of human potential. This latest release, and the play it is a soundtrack for, comprise yet another milestone in Michael’s DeMaria’s ever-evolving creative expression. Listeners will experience an uplifting fantasy journey in the melodic world of The Maiden Of Stonehenge.